Women are at a sea change moment in American society. Currently, we control 51.3% of all private wealth in the United States, which will amount to almost $12.5 trillion dollars in 2012. More and more women are the primary breadwinner in their household (almost 40%) and we account for 85% of the household spending decisions. In the past ten years, the number of women holding management positions in the United States has doubled. For the first time in history, we hold an unprecedented power when it comes to spending and earning money.
As Simone De Beauvoir said, “civil liberties are theoretical if they are not accompanied by economic freedom.” Although she spoke to women at an earlier time in history, her quote still rings true today. We may be making more money, and spending it more freely, but women are still behind the curve when it comes to financial literacy. Compared to men, fewer of us pay our credit cards back in full. We are far less comfortable with the stock market. Fewer than half of us are able to answer basic financial literacy questions when surveyed.
We still don’t know how to prepare ourselves for our financial futures, which would give us power as we work through the inevitable hardships that define human life.
My sister, brother and I were raised in a traditional, “happy” home. Our type-A dad built his own business and worked 24/7. Our mom was amazingly kind, patient, nurturing and a traditional stay at home parent.
I began working at Ann Taylor my junior year in high school. Although I was raised in a suburb on Long Island, I quickly realized as a teenager that earning “my own” stash offered the ability to make choices with the money I earned. And even though my parents paid for my college education, I found a job selling advertising space for the University of Michigan newspaper during my sophomore year. I always loved receiving my paycheck even if it was only a few dollars and I have not stopped working since then.
As a mother, I have had to make many difficult decisions regarding my career. When we, as women, choose to leave our earning power behind we lose a piece of independence and our ability to make choices. Balancing children and the demands of our work life is never easy. Corporate America is not yet comfortable with the reality of how the ability to control our time in life changes once women have children. I still struggle to reconcile with that today, although my career is established, and my children have gotten older.
Our goal at GoGirl Finance is to empower and encourage women, to not feel alone in the paths we’ve chosen, no matter what they are. We can all learn from each other so share your stories — we want to hear from you.