Terry’s Columns Forget Flowers – Get Money Powers

Forget Flowers – Get Money Powers

By Terry Savage on February 13, 2024

Financial power is a far more valuable commodity than all the hearts and flowers sent on Valentine’s Day. Proof comes in the latest Allianz Life “Women, Money, and Power” study, an ongoing survey of women’s priorities and attitudes toward money and investing.

Long gone are the days when women were patronized with a “don’t worry your pretty little head about money, dear” attitude. Yes, that really was the norm a half century ago. But we’ve come a long way. The new Allianz study reveals that:

• More than half (51%) of women say they are more financially savvy than their spouse or partner –up from 46% in 2021, when the survey was last conducted.
• 49% of women consider themselves to be the Chief Financial Officer of their household – up from 41% in 2021.
• 42% of women say they are the primary breadwinner in their family, up from 34% in 2021, with more than half of millennials claiming that title.

Yes, the times are changing rapidly for women and money and power. And spreading the word about those changes should be an incentive for other women to take their own financial power for their own benefit. The financial services industry has long recognized the potent economic force women play in the economy.

Some of the most recent changes may have come about because of the pandemic. With two spouses often working in the home, there was more sharing of household duties and child rearing – along with financial planning. And some of the changes may come from demographics—with younger couples starting into marriage or life partnerships after having developed their own careers, and retirement plans, and financial abilities.

But far too many women in the boomer generation are still reliant on spouses, or patronizing financial advisors when it comes to money management and investment advice. Since women live longer on average (see last week’s column on longevity), it only stands to reason that women should immediately recognize the importance of seeking out education on those topics.

I receive so many posts on my AskTerry blog at TerrySavage.com from women of this generation who asking for advice because their late husband used to “take care of all that.” But it’s not just an age issue. Younger women raising children are often “too busy to handle those details.” Thus, when it comes to making a will or revocable living trust – an essential for young families – they are often reduced to “signing at the X” on documents they never fully read.

Yes, couples share responsibilities – and some are better at certain tasks. If your husband was a gourmet chef, the mealtime responsibilities would likely fall to him. But, you would still need to know the basics of cooking. Same thing with money. It might not be your “thing” –but you do need to know the basics of your financial situation!

So, while it’s nice to be wooed with hearts, flowers, and chocolate, remember that what you really need is to be financially empowered within any relationship you might have – -whether a spouse, partner or roommate. Ask yourself these questions:

• If my partner was in a coma from a tragic accident, would I know where all the financial accounts are? And, more importantly, do I have the written power to act if he/she cannot sign documents?
• If my partner were to die suddenly, do I know where his/her retirement accounts are – and importantly, am I named as the beneficiary?
• Do I own the life insurance policy on his/her life (as well as being the beneficiary) so changes cannot be made in beneficiary designation without my knowledge? (And, by the way, where IS that life insurance policy?)
• Have I checked my credit report at www.AnnualCreditReport.com – and do I have my own credit, instead of everything from mortgage payments to card ownership being reported in my partner’s name?
• Do I have my own retirement account. (Non-working spouses can have an IRA if they file a joint return and the spouse has earned income.)
• Have I met separately with our broker, financial advisor, tax-preparer, estate planning attorney – where I can ask questions freely and without intimidation?

If you don’t ask those questions now, you’ll be at the mercy of those advisors if and when you are suddenly forced into making important decisions. Helplessness is not a solution in that situation.
And that’s The Savage Truth.



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