"I truly believe that liberty for a woman comes from the ability to make financial decisions for her life."
– Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud.
This quote is by Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud, a member of the House of Saud and the 1st female envoy in Saudi Arabia's history as Ambassador to the United States.
Money isn't everything, but when it comes to freedom, money buys a lot. Personally, I have worked most of my life. I started my illustrious career at 13 years old with babysitting gigs, worked part-time at a notorious sex shop in Yorkville while in college (Get an online discount at Lovecraft) I then went on to my first full-time job as a registered nurse in 1989. I have crawled around the boiler of a nuclear reactor to do a radiation survey and taught others to protect themselves from that same radiation as a Health Physics Instructor at a large corporation. I am not afraid of work. Work pays.
What about when work doesn't pay, though?
When my 2 biological children were young, I removed myself from the workforce. We'd thought we had it all figured out: my husband was working full-time, I was job-sharing as a nurse, and we had a nanny living in a flat in our basement. Then a neighbour reported that our nanny was verbally abusing our son on the street. She was "fine" with the baby, but she was being vicious to our little boy. The nanny was fired, and I immediately quit my job and stayed home.
Of course, now, I know that I was emotionally triggered and that we could have come up with many possible solutions, but at the time, there were no options. That was that.
We went overnight from Yuppies to a one-income household, and that income was not mine. I started getting money from my husband on an "as needed" basis. If we needed groceries, I would ask for money and be given enough to cover them, for example. If I needed to get my hair cut, I would state my case and get a yay or a nay. All of our credit cards were in my husband's name, our bank account was in his name. I had become totally dependent financially on another person.
Even worse, to make our money stretch, I had sold my car. Before, when I was off work on maternity leave, for example, money was less, but I still had my own, and I still had the means to get to friends or family. Now, I had 2 children at home, no money and no vehicle. It was not a good scene. We moved to a new home away from the support system within walking distance and into the suburbs to cap things off.
I started to do home daycare around this time, which I enjoyed, and I would fight to keep this as my own pocket money. I could not decide about buying a pack of gum without my husband saying so during this time. I had to negotiate for every dollar and cent that I wanted to spend on myself or the children.
So, when I do a free 30-minute session now, I understand where you are coming from when you say, "I have to ask my husband" before we move on. Others might judge, but I have walked in those shoes, and I understand how disempowering it feels.
I don't walk in them now. I have been a certified Inner Workout Life Coach since 2009, and my soon to be husband and I are a team. We share our finances and help each other, and I support his ability to make his own decisions, and he supports mine. There is a plan in place, and we work within it.
I have learned a lot about what money isn't and what it is to me. It isn't just a means to buy material things. It represents personal power, self-control, or a lack of it, and yes, money is freedom.
November is Financial Literacy Month, so I'd like to look at what that means for women.
Financial literacy is a fancy way of saying, "do you know how to make your money work and last so you can live well for your whole life?"
Maybe like me, your circumstances changed suddenly, and you found yourself in an unexpected situation. Or perhaps money is something that you just have never given much thought to in the first place, but now you have some goals that you'd like to achieve and you require it.
Whatever the case, here are some basic principles that will help you become a financially literate woman:
Assess Your Relationship to Money.
Do you know where you stand? In every relationship, there comes a time when you need to have "the talk". This is that time. Sit down and have a good hard talk with yourself about what you are making and what you are spending. In other words, it is time to create a budget.
Allow for the reality that you should not be spending more than you are earning. A good ratio to allocate (after taxes) is:
50% Needs / 30% Wants / 20% Savings
Be clear about what you are classifying as a need versus a want. Is a cell phone actually a need? Many people survived quite nicely without them for hundreds of years. If you determine it is a need, then is the latest version really a need or would you be willing to consider that a want?
Love Yourself First = Pay Yourself First.
In the financial realm loving yourself first looks like not waiting until everything else is paid before you put a little somethin', somethin' in the piggy bank. Instead, set up a direct deposit to your savings account, or have your workplace direct a certain amount into an RRSP every pay.
You deserve to reward yourself with this commitment, so plan for it, and honour it.
Loving yourself first also means speaking up. Ask for what you are worth. Women typically ask less when they negotiate a starting wage and less often for promotion. There is already a well-documented society wage disparity. Women talk to your co-workers, read the financial reports at work, and familiarize yourself with the "right" range or amount for you to make in your job. If it doesn't seem right, then speak up. In financial education workshops, Saijal Patel addresses the, hopefully, eye-opening stat that:
"a 20 per cent wage gap can easily translate into a 40 per cent wealth gap over their lifetime, and how women are 80 per cent more likely than men to live in poverty during retirement."
Don't let it slide; you deserve to be compensated appropriately. If you don't have the confidence to know your worth or speak up for it, then work with someone like a life coach to help you find your voice.
Make Your Money Work For You
People automatically assume that buying property is the way to go however it isn't always. If all your money is going into a home that you are going to end up selling in a few years, paying moving fees, hook up fees, realtor fees, lawyer fees and taxes on and then buying another property, that eats up all of your profits you have gained zero on your investment.
Instead, it might be more profitable to put the same amount of money into a fund that grows while you rent an equally beautiful, comfortable home.
Here's a handy rent v buy calculator you can use to determine what makes sense for you:
Similarly, when you are considering other purchases think twice about whether you need to have the brand new version or if second hand, consignment, and used is a better option.
Cars depreciate as soon as you drive them off the lot. You may be getting more bang for your buck with a reliable, slightly older model. Many dealerships offer their testers at excellent prices and they typically have less than 10,000 km and full warranty.
Bridal consignment stores provide both new and used options at considerably reduced prices for a dress that you will only wear once. You can still get the look you want without breaking the bank.
Any time you are reusing and recycling you get an extra benefit of reducing your carbon footprint and doing something positive for the planet.
Don't Borrow It if You Can't Pay It Back
No, duh, right? But you might be surprised that you are already doing this. Apparently, the rule of thumb is (excluding your mortgage) don't carry more than 10% of your monthly income in debt.
So, if your monthly income is $5,000, you should have no more than $500 total debt/month. That includes car loans, trips, new shoes, take out etc. EVERYTHING. How are y'all doing with this?
It is crucial that you protect your credit score. If you find that you have racked up more than you should have, then don't stick your head in the sand and pretend it isn't happening. Deal with the issue directly. Phone up each of your creditors and be honest with them about your situation. Apprise them of what you can pay each month on time and then adhere to your agreement. Ask for a reduction in your interest amount. You might be surprised how willing they are to work with you when you show good faith.
Be Prepared For the Unexpected
Just like in my personal story, stuff happens when you least expect it. Even when you have a plan, things can go awry. Roofs leak, engines seize, kids need braces, relationships change, and you need to be prepared financially.
Have a portion of your budget essentials allotted as emergency funds and have insurance.
Yes, it is frustrating to pay for something you hopefully never need, yet that is precisely the point.
Make sure that you have rental insurance if you are a tenant, keep up your payments on all your health, car, and mortgage insurance.
Check your credit card and bank statements to ensure there are no fraudulent charges, and check your credit score from time to time.
The government of Canada is offering a free webinar this month on November 17 to encourage women's financial literacy. Register here for :
How Women Can Save More Money https://live.webcastplatform.com/webcast/registration/52a83997-65f9-4ffa-be0d-889c023fd3dc
If you are ready to live authentically then the very first step is to find a coach that you trust and that is a good fit. Click this link for a FREE 30-minute consultation and let's explore the possibilities together.