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Women And Money: The Road Back To Financial Independence

Women are the default partners who volunteer to take care of children when they are sick or just by default of having a child. They decide to stay at home which can have detrimental effects on their career when getting back into the workplace.

Sadly, the longer a woman stays out of work, the harder it is to get back into her field of choice. When deciding to have children, these are the issues that should be discussed ahead of time such that the proper planning is put in place to avoid issues when deciding to return to work.

We live longer, but those of us who stay at home with children to raise them ourselves also have the burden of sacrificing the time in our life during our highest earning potential.

One of the best parts about running a blog that discusses women and money is the interactions I have with women behind the scenes.  Readers, just like you who want answers to pressing money issues.  And, while I am not a financial advisor and articles written here or across other social networks and partner sites should never be construed as such, I am often able to give insight into issues that come up during our email exchanges.

A question often asked is:

how do I gain financial independence?   I want to learn how to stand on my own 2 feet”

Why This Is Important

I think this is an important issue for women as we should be able to stand on our own so that we’re prepared for whatever life brings our way.  Yes, this can be a touchy subject, depending on who you’re talking to but an important topic nonetheless as too many women find themselves without options once their partners are no longer in the equation for whatever the reason.

Huffington Post’s Jason Alderman also published an article which speaks to the importance of women learning how to gain financial Independence:

    • Women live longer than men but are much more likely to experience critical health problems that hamper their ability to work — and to pass up needed care due to cost.
    • Although the earnings gap between women and men continues to narrow, it’s still significant: Among full-time workers, women’s weekly earnings as a percentage of men’s have increased from 62 percent in 1979 to 80 percent in 2009. (Those numbers represent overall average earnings in all fields, not what men and women are paid for doing the same job — although such disparities likely still exist.)
    • More women than men now graduate high school and earn college degrees, but far fewer women earn degrees in engineering, computer sciences and other higher-paying fields, which likely contributes to the wage disparity.
    • Women increasingly are marrying later, having fewer children or remaining childless, yet they still are more likely to live in poverty than men, with single-mother families suffering the worst disparity.
    • Women are less likely than men to work outside the home (61 percent vs. 75 percent in 2009) and are much more likely to work part-time and to take time off to raise children or care for aging relatives.

What rubs me about the last statistic is that we are forced to make hard decisions like this, because let’s face it, we birth the children so by default we’re expected to take time off to raise them.  No bones to pick there but we have to plan in order to make it all work.

To that end, my comment on the Huffington Post article reads as follows:

“Women are the default partners who volunteer to take care of children when they are sick or just by default of having a child. They decide to stay at home which can have detrimental effects on their career when getting back into the workplace.

Sadly, the longer a woman stays out of work, the harder it is to get back into her field of choice. When deciding to have children, these are the issues that should be discussed ahead of time such that the proper planning is put in place to avoid issues when deciding to return to work.

We live longer, but those of us who stay at home with children to raise them ourselves also have the burden of sacrificing the time in our life during our highest earning potential.”

The Road Back To Independence

So, let’s discuss?  Whether you’re married, single or newly divorced and want to learn how to manage money properly, it’s best to start here:  21 Days To Rock Your Finances: Day 1- Create A 1 Year Financial Plan.

Understanding the minutia of money management is of utmost importance as we often think that if we make the money, the money management skills will just show up.  Not at all.  In fact, the opposite is true.  We must master before we make the moolah!  Teaching yourself these principles will give you the foundations needed to be successful.

Now let’s talk about you, the budding money making machine!

What Stops You From Being Financially Independent?

Looking at this closely will help you figure out why things are the way they are.

The replies I often get are:

“My husband manages all of it”

“I don’t know how to…I haven’t had a job in years..”

“I’ve been taking care of our kids so money was the last thing on my mind”

One of the best pieces of money advice my mom gave me years ago is that:

“Women often work hard at teaching their children the art of being independent while abdicating that responsibility to themselves”

Powerful right?

I think it’s great that we want to be there for our kids when they’re growing up but we often forget about who we will be once they are independent and don’t need us anymore.  It is often after the kids are in school or in the unfortunate event of a separation or divorce that some women think about returning to work or how they will support themselves.  And, this can be difficult.   Being out of the job market for years can hamper the job search process once they choose to return. This leads to issues around self-worth due to feeling that they aren’t able to stand on their own, financially.

If you’re planning to stay at home with the kids once you have them, create a plan that enables you to keep your resume fresh and skills updated while you do so.  There’s no reason to neglect your career during this time as one never knows what the future holds which may lead to you needing to re-enter the workforce hoping that someone will hire you once again.

Communication

Talk to your partner about allowing you to manage your money if you don’t have that arrangement in your relationship. At the very least, you should have a role in the money management aspect of your relationship.  Know where your accounts are stored, check your credit report as well as your partners and review the status of all accounts listed on the credit report to keep yourself abreast of everything going on financially.

If you’re already at this point, having stayed out of the work force for whatever the reason, then it’s time to plot your way back in.

How Do I Get Back And Stand On My Two Feet?

Go back to school.  Start there.  Did you finish college?  Do you want to go back to graduate school?  What are you passionate about that requires a degree or certificate?  Do you need to go back to school?  These are all questions that you have to ask yourself if your path to returning to the work force involves going back to school.

Start A Business.  Along the same lines of going back to school, what are you passionate about?  Do you see a need in the market that hasn’t been filled?  How can you work to fill that need while creating income for yourself?  This can include producing your own stuff to sell on Etsy or Ebay to heading a startup company.

Renew Or Update Your Skills.  If you’re in a field like myself, then you’ll need to make sure that applicable licenses or certifications are always up to date as allowing them to lapse costs more time and money.  Talk to the licensing or certification board within your field and find out what you need to do in order to maintain your skills in this area.  If you plan on applying to jobs that require a license or certification then you’ll need to make sure this is up to date.

Attend workshops and conferences in an effort to remain up to date with the current trends in your field as well.  This also gives you the opportunity to network with others which will discuss in a bit.

Volunteer or Intern Within Your Field

This continues to be my most successful piece of advice.  *pats self on back*  It has worked for me and countless others who needed a foot in the door.  Yes, this does mean sacrificing time and money but when you’re in the position of needing to prove yourself, then beggars can’t be choosers.  One of our administrative assistants did this prior to obtaining a paid position with us and it worked out nicely for her.  When the administrative assistant that she supported quit, she was able to move into her position with relative ease while collecting a new full time paycheck.

Network, Network, Network!  Did I Say Network?

I lied.  This too is a great way to land a position.  Network with others in your field.  Go to chapter meetings, join associations and go to the hosted happy hours.  Talk to others about your goals and learn to sell yourself.  Be willing to sacrifice and prove to them that you’re the woman for the job.  Talking to the right person means they can possibly put in a good word for you during the hiring process.

Find A Mentor IE Your Sisterhood of Success AKA “Personal Board Of Advisors”

Who supports you professionally when it’s time to make hard professional decisions?  Do you have a group of women or even one woman that you can turn to?  I take that back, it doesn’t have to be a woman.  Anyone who supports you and is able to provide professional guidance will do.  Women are more successful when they have mentors guiding them both personally and professionally.   Especially when when women mentor women.  Great things happen!

This starts with choosing your Personal Board of Advisors.  Some of you might refer to this as “Auntie/Big Sister in my Head”.  Personally, I have always imagined Oprah, Tyra, Beyonce and Michelle Obama as big sisters and aunties in my head, so you get my drift!

How do you choose your Personal Board of Advisors?  @ChiefHotMomma gives us some tips on getting started:

Visualize yourself in a room with all of the people who represent each place setting.  Who do you want in that spot supporting you throughout the years?

Once you’ve picked who you want in your Sisterhood of Success, chart a plan to connect with them.  This can be someone who is readily accessible or someone you’ve admired from a far.  In the latter case, do your home work and make the process easier for them.  Remember, flattery will get you what you need.  Let them know how much their work means to you and that will open the door to discussions around lending their time to help make you a success.

Once you have a plan stick to it!  Remember, consistency is key, once you’ve established the relationship with this person, keep the lines of communication open and be flexible.

 

 

What are your thoughts on women seeking advice on how to get back on their feet, financially?  What tips do you have?  Stories to share?  Any encouragement or advice is much appreciated!

 

  • Kimberly

    I think this post is so important. Women need to be active participants in financial planning, management and the goal of financial freedom.

    When women are returning to a highly competitive job market after taking time off to raise a family, they may find consulting with a career professional beneficial to assist with developing a focused job search position and strategy. Some people balk at the cost of hiring a career/interview coach or professional resume writer, but if the one time cost of working with a professional nets you the career and income you’re targeting, the investment is more than worth it. Also hiring the services of career professionals is tax deductible.

  • http://www.earnsavelive.com/ Earn Save Live

    Excellent advice! 

    It’s so important for women to fully know their family’s financial status, including where their accounts are, the current balances, their credit score, and their status with the IRS. Unfortunately, I’ve had three friends lately that trusted their spouses with this information and have found out (either during a divorce or during their spouse’s hospitalization) that they were deeply in debt, had many missed or late credit card payments, and owed money to the IRS.

    A key part of financial independence is taking ownership of your money, which can present a lot of different challenges!

    • http://www.girlsjustwannahaveufunds.com/ Ginger-GirlsJustWannaHaveFunds

      Thanks!  Yes, this is very important.  I remember an episode (which I should post ) from Greys Anatomy that addressed this very issue.  So scary.

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