This post is from Judy Resnick, author of I’m On My Own, and So Are You: Financial Security for Women, a book I plan to review on this blog in the next week or two.
While I love my husband and have great faith in him, I still feel better being the one handling the finances, and we both contribute income jointly to the household. I think all women would be wise to learn about money and how to handle it. In this post, Resnick explains why.
Let’s talk about risk.
In the financial world, you encounter risk the minute you take your money out of a bank — the world of guaranteed safety — and invest in other assets, such as bonds or stocks.
But trying to avoid risk entirely is a much bigger risk. Without risk, you simply can’t enjoy financial growth, and without growth, you’re at risk for the rest of your life.
Not all risk is equal. There is crazy risk, and there is calculated, educated risk. I only believe in the latter. And believe me, I’ve seen both.
So often women resist the idea of investing their money outside the safe world of Certificates of Deposit (CDs). And for a good reason: Historically, women haven’t been financial risk takers.
We’ve been gaining new earning power and controlling more assets, but many of us still tend to keep our money in the proverbial pillow case — that is, CDs and money market accounts — out of fear of losing that money.
Men, however, have always been willing to invest, which is why they’ve controlled most of the money. Their jobs have always put them out into the world, taking risks, while woman remained sheltered at home. It’s only since women have become commercial pilots, surgeons, army sergeants, or any other job once considered off-limits to females that they have learned about taking risks.
There is one financial risk that women have been taking for years: marriage.
That’s right. A husband has traditionally been a woman’s biggest risk.
You don’t think you’re taking a risk when you marry? You taking a huge risk when you say, “I’m not going to learn about money, I’m going to bet my entire financial life on this one guy.” As my gambling-loving father would have said, this is called placing all your chips on one number. Look at the odds — there’s a 50% divorce rate in our country.
Still, the risk that women normally tell me they fear most is taking their money from some safe place and putting it in the markets. It’s time to overcome this fear, just as women are overcoming their fear in so many other areas.
The willingness to take prudent risks is necessary to any investment strategy. So what if historically women haven’t been risk takers? History always changes. It’s changing right now.