A divorce is final and a wife who always left the finances up to her husband is now left to fend for herself financially. A husband for thirty years suddenly passes away from a heart attack and his widow has no idea where to start to put her life back together financially because she always let him pay the bills and invest on their behalf. Both of these women and both of these situations I know personally. Both of these situations happen too often and women are always on the losing end! When I write it is usually to inform the reader about how to manage their money better so that in the future they will have wealth and not debt. Rarely do I write about subjects that are intense in nature, but as Women's history month is upon us I feel that I need to address an important issue that is affecting 4 in 10 households in the United States.
Women are the primary breadwinners in 4 out of 10 households in America which means it is more important than ever for women to know how to manage their finances. Not only for themselves, but also for the children they have or hope to have. Whether a woman is married or not she has to be in control of her money! Gone are the days where a husband or a father would handle the finances of a wife or daughter. Whenever this took place in the past, all it did was leave that women in a vulnerable position with her finances if that father or husband died. More commonly today women are finding themselves in a divorce and completely lost afterwards because they spent their entire marriage letting their husband control the bank account and other financial matters.
Today all of that CHANGES! No longer as women will we sit on the sideline and wish that our finances just fall into place. We will take the necessary steps needed to control our own money and stop letting our money control us! So what can we do? First, we decide what we want in life. What goals do we have for our household in the short term (6-12 months) the intermediate (1-3 years) and long-term (5-10 years). These goals which I like to call dreams are the fire to our match and they are going to get us to where we want to be financially. When my family was $48,000 in debt we created our own dreams and we wrote them down on a piece of paper and put it up on the refrigerator so that it could be seen each and every day. Believe it or not that sheet of paper full of our dreams kept us focused the 2 1/2 years it took to pay off all $48,000 because every time that we wanted to buy something we didn’t need we would look at that sheet and say we want that dream more! After women figure out what they want in their life going forward it is now time to take your head out the sand and figure out if you are in debt and if you are how much debt you are in. The only way that you can begin to become debt-free is to know who you owe money to and how much you owe them. Only then can you take action to pay off that debt!
Getting a spending plan (budget) down on paper is essential because you have to know how much money is coming in and going out each month so that you can start to make the needed adjustments. If a woman finds herself living paycheck to paycheck each month she can start her financial recovery by looking at her spending plan and seeing what she can cut out. Cutting out unnecessary expenses leaves money available in each paycheck to start paying off debt. If after cutting out all that you can in unnecessary expenses you still find yourself struggling financially then it is time to find extra income to pay off debt. That may mean adding extra job or selling anything that you can for the extra money. When we were getting out of debt we sold everything that we could. If people wanted to buy it, we would sell it to them! We also found out what we were good at which was tennis and basketball and started training kids in each sport for $25/ hour! Do whatever it takes to find the extra money to pay off what you owe!
Why is it important for ALL women to be debt-free and use their money to work for them and not someone else? The reason is that women on average make $.77 for every $1 a man makes, so we can’t afford not to be in control of our money! Even with the income disadvantage women can still come out on top by controlling their finances. The secret is to make it up in your mind that you deserve better and you are going to do whatever it takes to get to that better! No more spending money on stuff you don’t need! No more staying in debt because society said “that is how it will always be!” No more not having an emergency fund! No more letting someone else tell you what to do with your hard earned money! Today is the day you say “NO MORE!”