A man is not a financial solution

2012-02-18 12:45

Having spent a weekend speaking to more than 2 000 young women about their finances, the most tweeted comment was “a man is not a financial plan”.

This statement resonated not only with the young women in the audience, but with many of the men working at the event. The men were very excited to go back to their girlfriends or wives to tell them the “good news”.

Although the young women cheered and clapped, I suspect there were a few in the audience who still secretly believed that marrying a rich man would be the solution to all their financial worries.

This stems from a woman’s unconscious need to be taken care of, described by American psychologist Colette Dowling as the Cinderella Complex. It relates to the fairy tale in which a poor, dirty orphan is miraculously turned into a princess when the handsome prince falls in love with her. (Someone has got to name the complex that makes men unable to change a baby’s nappy without gagging.)

As liberated as many women believe they are, some still hold the belief that a man on a white horse will come and save them. Even if you are financially independent, do you sometimes secretly wish someone would come and take care of you?

Sadly, the prince on the horse (or in the Ferrari) is as far from reality as one can get. He belongs in fairy tales, where pumpkins turn into carriages and mice into footmen.

As so many women have discovered during retirement, for example, men are not actually better than women at managing money. Even divorced women are left with much less than half of the assets, yet carry the primary responsibility of childcare while rebuilding a career.

The question I asked the women was: “How do you know he is rich?” If he drives a fancy car, lives in a fancy house and drinks fancy whiskey, he may have very fancy debt. You may be marrying a financial disaster.

What many women (or men) may not realise is that if they marry in community of property, their partner’s debts become their debts. If your partner is living the high life without the income to match, his creditors can go after you, and your handsome prince suddenly turns into the ugly frog.

While a woman can be as financially self-sufficient as a man, this does change when she becomes a mother. She may want to take time off work and will often pass over promotions to spend time with her children.

When you decide to start a family, discuss the financial implications and make sure they are fairly distributed between you and your spouse. However, this does not mean you hand over financial responsibility. It is even more important than ever that you understand where your money is invested and that you have a proper financial
plan in place.

Because of motherhood, women need to take their finances far more seriously than men. In fact, women should be fully in control of the household finances and investments because it affects them most.

If you cannot understand investments as well as a man, don’t sweat. Research conducted by the CFA Institute in the US found that, on average, CFA Institute in the US found that, on average, investment clubs run by women were more successful than those run by men. T run by women were more successful than those run by men. This was attributed to the fact that women take more time to make decisions, they ask for help and they keep their investments for longer.

So to all our male readers, maybe you should hand over the finances to your partner. She may be the better financial plan!

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