Scared to Manage Your Own Finances? Many Women Feel the Same.


My latest addiction is the television show Black-ish. I love how the program manages to discuss race, gender, class and other potentially sensitive topics in such clever and humorous ways. I was especially struck by the second season’s third episode, “Keeping up with the Johnsons.” In the episode, Dre and Bow (the show’s two central characters, played by Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross) discuss their spending habits and recognize that they weren’t exactly raised by the best financial role models. This leads to an interesting conversation between Bow and her mother, who confess that they are afraid to talk about financial issues because they struggle to understand them, and it makes them feel stupid.

This really hit home for me as I too have struggled with the financial part of my life – often relegating it to others to manage. And I am not alone. Too many women leave it to their spouses or other family members to care for their money. But why do we do this? According to a study conducted by Fidelity Investments, a lack of confidence, as Bow expressed, and concerns about privacy are big factors. Emily Guy Birken further analyzed the study’s results in PT Money, writing,

That confidence gap can feel like a Catch-22: you feel foolish for not knowing things, but asking questions feels too intimidating. So you continue worrying in silence and assuming you don’t know enough to talk intelligently.

While it has been known for some time that women are not compensated equally for the same work, we can’t easily make progress on that inequity until we are more comfortable talking about money. The confidence gap that often holds us back in many professional and personal ways is also costing us cash when we let our fears of money-talk get in our way. Encouragingly, the Fidelity study found that most women, like Bow in Black-ish, do want to learn more about managing their finances – a full 83% of respondents. “The good news is that women are poised to take charge of their financial lives,” Birken writes. We just need to educate ourselves, and find the confidence to take the reins.

Photo: Kelsey McNeal/ABC

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