Pay attention to your money

ImagesThere was an article in the Herald Tribune called "In marriage, the unseen bottom line" by Katrin Bennhold.  For all women, an article absolutely worth reading.  She writes about how many women, actually most, really don't pay attention their joint finances once they get married yet they certainly took care of their finances when they were single.  They are happy to put a small amount of money that their husband might not know about so they can treat themselves to a pair of killer shoes but don't really know the interest rate on their mortage. 

Here is the thing, unless you have an underlying desire to add up numbers most people, particularly women, find their finances boring even though they understand them.  I get it but at the end of the day if you don't pay attention to your finances then you don't know how your money is being spent and in essence you don't control your life. 

When my parents got divorced, my Mom rose to the occasion of dealing with the finances.  She had no choice but she made it very clear to me that I should always know where the cash is and where it is going.  It might not be fun but it is essential.  My guess and again and this is just a guess because I have seen it first hand particularly when I lived in the suburbs is that when women make a choice to stop working for awhile to raise the kids, they don't feel they are entitled to their love of hand bags and shoes because they aren't working.  BTW, that is utter bullshit because as I used to say to people when they asked me what I did when I wasn't working and my kids were young, I'd answer either "Superhero or something that I don't get paid for". So many women them hide what they purchase instead of being honest that we are 50/50 and I need to have these things on occasion.  How are we going to make it work so it works for the both of us just because I got off the train for awhile doesn't mean I shouldn't get my fair share of the salary.   

I've talked about this before.  Fred and I have pooled our finances from day one because we had so little when we began our careers post-college.  When I came home one day with a pair of shoes that were just so out of his realm, he freaked.  I get it.  He grew up with 3 boys in an Army house and had no idea that Jewish women needed to fill certain needs more often than most.  We sat down and we planned a budget.  He had one and I had one so neither of us cared what either of us bought as long as we stayed on budget.  It was heaven.  Every time I brought home something I loved, he loved it too because he knew I'd never go off budget. 

Bennhold writes that women control 70% of the consumer spending worldwide.  Wow.  Yet, we only account for 1/10th of the voting power on the worlds key interest rates and run only 18% of the Fortune 500 companies.  Those statistics alone should make all of us pay more attention to the money.  As she says, the family is the best place to start. I couldn't agree more.

Understanding money, budgets and finances is the best way to be in control of your destiny be it in the house or running a corporation.  It puts us in control of our life.  Agreed, it can be so boring but honestly isn't exercise too.  We exercise because we know we should and it makes us feel and look better.  We should feel the same way about our money…that means "our" if you are married. 

If you are at a total loss, then follow Dailyworth.  That is one of the reason I invested in Dailyworth, it teachies women to think about their finances every day.  A little shot in the arm makes you think intelligently about how to spend your money, how to invest your money and how to save your money everyday. 

It might not always be exciting but I know where the money is in our house and I know where it is spent and although I might not be the one balancing the check book or physically paying the bills, I know exactly what is going out and in…and that makes me feel empowered and I wouldn't want it any other way.  BTW, I am still on a budget and it still works.