Program Note: Tune in tonight to watch Suze Orman discuss women in the workplace. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
The Shriver Report
The Center for American Progress
We need to move money front and center in this conversation. Not later. Right now.
I am excited that “A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything” is bringing such formidable intellectual power to bear on the vitally important topic of how women’s evolving role in every facet of society can be better served by corporate and legislative policy. But all of our best efforts will be for naught if we don’t focus on the real catalyst for change—altering the dysfunctional relationship many women have with money, especially women who are struggling to survive in abusive relationships but also including those many women who are now coming to terms with the “power of the purse” as the new breadwinners in American society.
It starts with basic financial literacy. In the recent Prudential study “Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women,” less than 25 percent of the women surveyed said they are “very well prepared” to make financial decisions.1 Women are grappling with everyday spending, savings, and investment decisions, often after earning the lioness’ share of the family income, yet they feel overwhelmed and underqualified to put that hard-earned money to work. How can we expect women who cannot understand or manage their own family finances to climb the ladder at a Fortune 500 company?
Until women accept the need to make themselves a priority, they will continue to struggle to find their way in the new world order. Women need to feel great about using their hard-earned money to fund a Roth IRA rather than using the money to buy more things their already cared-for kids don’t really need. Women need to say no when asked to co-sign a loan because they know it may jeopardize their own credit score and financial security. To allay very real bag-lady fears,2 women must see the value of paying down their mortgage to ensure a secure retirement rather than sending that money to a grown child with a full-time job and ample income to help pay down student loan debt.
The money disconnect is just as pervasive for stay-at-home mothers. Please let’s not lose sight of this vitally important subset of our female population. I am talking about stay-at-home moms who come to me for advice on how to ask their partner for money since he is the one earning the money. I tell them: You don’t ask. You share. A woman needs to understand her equal value to her family. She needs to respect herself. She needs to not put herself on sale.
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