Published in the Spring 2006 issue • Features
Sure, saving your pennies is tougher than spending them. But when it comes to cash, it pays to be in control.
Love makes the world go ’round, right? Wrong. Sorry, lovelies. How I wish that love and friendship and climbing fences and skinny-dipping and paperback novels were all that mattered, and that our lives didn’t have to be encumbered by money, something so complicated and annoying and often-times difficult to understand. But money does rule the world. Economics and finance dictate everything from global politics and international conflict to transportation and education to what kind of coffee you drink. Money talks, baby.
Right now, money may play only a peripheral role in your life—you have enough for movies, art supplies, cute shoes, whatever you’re into. But maybe it’s more central—you think regularly about the cost of your education, whether your parents have enough to get by and how you can afford the things you need. Or you may be like me: obsessed with money and compelled by its constant presence in the world.
Weirdly, while money is always in your face, thinking about it can be totally boring and intimidating. Even some of the most “together” people have no idea how to keep their spending in control or how to plan for the future. A recent American study reported that teenagers feel they aren’t given adequate information about money and savings by their parents. Not surprising, since the financial industry is complicated and set up for insiders. But whatever your current take on the cheddar, the cheese, the bread, the green, you’ve gotta deal with it. Fear not: taking charge of your financial situation is not only worthwhile, it can also be fun and liberating.
Ladies and loot
The key to being smart with money is planning. Looking ahead is the only way to ensure a secure financial future, and starting to plan early will save your butt later. Here’s some appalling information:
- Women are still paid less than men. Way less. In the United States, men earn, on average, 24 percent more than their female counterparts. Canadian women earn 72 cents for every dollar men earn. This is true for most industries.
- Women still do the majority of unpaid housework and childcare, leaving less time and energy to advance in the labour market. This is often why women are concentrated in low-paying, part-time jobs.
- Female elementary and high school students in the U.S. anticipate that their future salaries will be less than those of their male peers.
- Approximately 25 percent of these girls believe it is at least “somewhat” important to marry someone wealthy in the interest of financial security.
Gross, right? Like math and science, financial planning is traditionally thought to confuse and threaten girls. I call bullshit on that. The number of women-owned small businesses is growing faster than the number owned by men, women usually make the majority of household purchases and, increasingly, women are putting in more hours at investment firms and in accounting departments. Women are buying property on their own and are doing so at a younger age than before. But the world is still out to short-change women, despite how kick-ass we are with the dollar bills. Sticking up for yourself financially is both a right and a responsibility.