In generations past, traditional gender roles often ruled when making financial decisions. Men managed the money, managed investments and savings, and held the credit. This may sound arcane by today’s standards, but a recent report released by UBS Global Wealth Management showed that more than half (56%) of all married women leave investments and financial decisions to their husbands. Why? The majority (a whopping 85%) “believe their husbands know more about financial matters and investment topics,” according to the UBS report entitle, “Own Your Worth”.
If you think these old-fashioned values belong to the Baby Boomer set, think again. In fact, millennials are the most willing to leave investing and financial planning decisions to their husbands, with 61% more likely to leave major financial decisions to their spouse, more than any previous generation. These numbers point to something deeper in our influences that dates back decades and is still being perpetuated today, according to the report.
Before handing over the checkbook to one’s husband, it might be wise to look for guidance from those who have found themselves suddenly single.
Among widows and divorcees, 59% regretted not being involved in long-term financial planning while married, and nearly all (97%) say they would encourage women to take steps to educate themselves about their finances now with 98% advising them to take an active role in their finances. These ladies take their own advice. Eight out of 10 women who remarry assume a more active role in financial decisions.
“The twin forces of longer life expectancies and high rates of divorce have produced a sobering likelihood, that more women will end up alone and solely responsible for their financial well-being,” said Paula Polito, Global Client Strategy Officer of UBS Global Wealth Management. “What’s most concerning is that women are more educated, successful and outspoken than ever, yet 60% continue to abdicate important financial decisions that affect their future.”
What can you do if you’re considering divorce and are in this majority of financially uninvolved spouses? Take steps to strengthen your financial muscles now. Seek the help of a professional financial planner who can walk you through the ins and outs of creating a budget, setting up retirement and other investment accounts, and planning long-term and short-term savings options. Financial advisors may also provide insight into purchasing specific insurance products, including life and long-term-care policies. Initial consultations are often free, and advisors tend to work either on a commission basis or for an annual fee, depending upon your income level and needs.
Not sure where to start? Ask trusted friends and family members for referrals and check reviews and the Better Business Bureau ratings. Disclosing your financial history can be an intimate process. Interview several candidates before choosing an advisor in whom you trust and feel comfortable confiding. A good financial planner should be interesting in helping you reach your goals. Armed with a plan of action, taking that first step into financial independence is empowering, and you don’t have to do it alone.