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4 Money Tips for Women to Take a More Active Role in Their Finances

UBS Global Wealth Management’s Own Your Worth Report Reveals Married Women Are Often in the Dark About Their Long-Term Finances
Photo: Shutterstock

Although women are certainly as capable as men of managing their finances, many still let their spouses take the lead when it comes to long-term financial planning. According to research from UBS Global Wealth Management’s Own Your Worth report, most women in the U.S. (eight in 10) will end up solely responsible for their finances one day. This isn’t all that surprising when you consider women have a longer lifespan. The report revealed that 50 percent of women encounter a financial surprise when their spouse passes away or they experience a divorce. One of the women interviewed shared that upon her husband’s passing, she discovered he had set up 29 separate accounts, none to which she had access.

Wanting to know why so many women abdicate their long-term financial decisions to the men in their lives, UBS spoke with Baby Boomer, Gen Z, and Millennial investors as part of a new video series, “Real Life, Real Stories.” In the first video, women shared feelings of anxiety when it came to handling personal finances. They also discussed how the division of labor in their households didn’t include them getting involved. Considering that women today contribute substantially to a family’s overall income, this lack of involvement and knowledge needs to change as the negative consequences for not participating can be devastating.

Here, financial advisors Gloria Dios, CSRIC, and Rosemarie Dios, CFP, CIMA, and CSRIC, of The Dios Katz Group at UBS Wealth Management USA share money tips for women to help them get an equal seat at the table.

  1. Start a money conversation with your partner. Having an open dialogue with your spouse or partner to get aligned on finances is a critical first step to ensuring women are more involved in the financial decision-making process. You can start with simple, easy-to-talk-about stuff by discussing mutual values or asking about your partner’s most important goals. Once the line of conversation is open, you can branch into more specifics like monthly budgeting, investing, and long-term savings priorities. Plan on having bi-monthly discussions with your partner to go through numbers, update plans or ask questions, and start putting things in writing so you know where to go for information should something unexpected happen to your partner. Have confidence in your abilities and trust your financial instincts. We usually recommend when women enter a marriage, they maintain a separate account with the assets they bring into the relationship. We have a client who has an agreement with her spouse that they will talk to each other before they spend more than $500. This fosters honesty and open communication in their relationship.
  2. Set up a meeting with a financial advisor, and ask your partner to attend the next meeting with you. Whether you have an established relationship with a financial advisor or professional already, or this will be your first-time meeting with someone to discuss money, work with a trusted source to develop a financial plan that will achieve long-term goals and ensures both you and your partner have a seat at the table. If your partner typically handles these types of meetings without you, proactively share your interest in attending the next meeting and schedule a time on the calendar that works for both of you. During the meeting, ask the advisor questions and ensure you are looking at near-term liquidity needs, as well as longer-term needs like retirement plans and legacy goals. 
  3. Set aside time to learn and build your financial knowledge. According to UBS’s Own Your Worth report, 82 percent of women surveyed say a primary reason they defer financial decisions to their husbands is because they think their spouse knows more about the topic. Women can empower themselves by taking initiative and setting aside time to not only get more involved in finances but also to increase their comfort levels and build knowledge in the space. Take initiative and talk about budgeting with a close friend, ask an expert a question about retirement needs, or review available resources and educational materials to learn about investing. Follow a financial blogger, read a book about money, or even listen to a podcast to start building your knowledge base and get more comfortable talking about finances.  
  4. Don’t wait until you are in a relationship to invest in yourself. It’s never too early to sit down with your financial advisor and create a financial plan, we’ve seen many young clients in their 20s and 30s gain confidence and relief when they look at their savings and debt and realize they are on track to achieve their goals. For example, we had a young 30-year-old female client who saw her friends in long-term marital relationships buying homes and felt she was missing out on the tax advantages and potential growth of owning real estate. We encouraged her to buy a home with her friend so that she could use the mortgage deduction and participate in real estate as an investment. 

To change the way you think about money, check out our piece on How to Shift from a Scarcity to an Abundance Mindset.

About The Author
Heather-Mikesell-author-1

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent, abcnews.com, jetsetter.com, outside.com, and wellandgood.com, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.