If We Don't Have These Conversations, Who Will?
We visited a long-time friend of mine in Chapel Hill. It's the kind of friendship where we may go without talking for a year or two and when we do, we just pick right back up where we left off. We reconnected 4 years ago after a lengthy time apart, and it had been at least 16 years since we last saw it each other. It was so good to see her!
While on the east coast, we had to go to the ocean. My daughter and I spent 2 days at Carolina Beach, which was absolutely wonderful! It as very long overdue beach vacation for me. We then spent the rest of the week visiting my son, daughter-in-law and my two granddaughters, one of which is a newborn and it was a blast spending time with them.
It was the most relaxed I’ve felt in years. While I live in Colorado, a beautiful state, I'm really a beach gal. Growing up on Long Island, I spent high school summers at Jones Beach. My family had a house in Eaton's Neck on the north shore, literally a stone's throw from Northport Bay.
For me, there's nothing more relaxing than standing on the edge of the shore at sunrise, with eyes closed, listening to the waves come up on shore. It was the first time I've been truly unplugged in a really long time. You know you're on vacation when you know the day of the week, but don't know the date. Yes, it was that good!
The Talk Every Mother Should Have With Her DaughterMy daughter and I had some amazing talks on that trip; talks about college, her future, careers and money. Not just about budgeting and the how-to of money, but real in-depth and raw conversations about all the emotions that come along with some money decisions and topics like this, "Mom, what if I meet a guy someday and what if he wants to handle all the finances?"
Honestly? I think this talk is just as important as the sex talk, if not more important. Seriously, I do.
This leads me to my point of talking with you today. It really got me thinking about the conversations that are happening, and not happening, in financial circles when it comes to women, money, midlife and transitions.
It seems everywhere I turn, the talk is about the mechanics of money; budgeting, spend less, save more, retire at 65, pay off debt, yada, yada, yada. Yes, we know. And while these are important, and I teach these too, they are merely the mechanics of money.
I’ve been in this industry a long time, since the late 1980’s, and while the conversations are getting slightly better because of social media and the internet, and some women who are starting to speak out, we have so very far to go.
We Have to Dig DeeperWe have to talk about the woman who recently turned 50 and was a stay at home mom for 20 years only to find out her husband is filing for divorce. She has kids getting ready for college, she’s been blind-sided and now has no idea how to move forward, especially since it's been nearly 2 decades since she's been in workforce and put her career on hold all those years.
How do we help her feel like all is not lost? How do we guide her back on track to a life that is not just stable, but thriving? And, how do we help her feel comfortable talking about it so that she gets the emotional and financial support she needs without feeling judged?
Or how about the woman whose husband unexpectedly passed away only to find out that he left her with no life insurance and $100K in debt. It’s enough to deal with the emotions of a lifelong partner who has passed away, much less the unbearable stress of trying to figure out how to dig out of $100K of debt. She’s smart, she’s educated and she just trusted that he would take care of the finances, so she didn’t get involved.
How do we help her not feel ashamed for not knowing? And yes, I know it goes the other way, too. The reality, though, is that the issue mostly affects women.
If you’re thinking, “Patty, this is really a question for the financial community,” yes, you’re right. It is, and I can tell you that there are very few who are going to address it.
So, I’m asking you. If you are in a transition or you know of a woman who is, how can I help you or her feel comfortable talking about these issues that mainstream financial services won’t?
Because if we don’t have these conversations, then who will? Please comment below with your thoughts.
Until next time,
Patty Gale is a Financial Therapist and the Founder of Fear.less Girl Financial. She believes money stories are not taboo and is passionate about changing the narrative and removing the stigma.