All this talk about women and their money is a big deal these days. Women do things with a rationality that may not necessarily always be clear to others. You may think someone who has her husband pay for everything and take care of her is a stupid person, because she isn’t financially independent, nor is she a ‘strong’ woman. On the contrary. I think these women are probably the smartest of all. Think about it — they get men to pay for everything, without having to work for the money, are kept, and if things don’t work out, they take them for half of what they’ve worked for!!!!! I think a lot of women probably made their millions by marrying and divorcing it. 😉 Tongue-in-cheek aside, for me, there are 5 broad categories of women in regards to their money:
- The Ostrich — Those who don’t care or want to know about their money AT ALL
- The Golddigger Princess — Those who actively seek out to be taken care of rather than working
- The Breadwinner — Those who bring home the bacon as the bigger earner of the partnership
- The Mommy — Those who baby their significant others and get frustrated in doing so
- The Independent — Those who want everything 50/50, no matter what
At some point in my life, I’m not afraid to admit that I have been all 5. Disclaimer: Obviously my interpretation of each category is my own (and my own bias), but I also acknowledge that there are good and bad sides to each. Oh, and don’t take this too seriously. It’s meant to be fun.
This woman is best represented by all women who have someone else to ‘take care of the money stuff’, and is probably in debt. They may also be extremely carefree with their money “it’s just money, right? Money comes and goes.” They usually don’t want to bother with paying the bills, worrying about saving and basically do whatever the other person/people tell her to do with her money. They’re scared of numbers, they think personal finance and budgeting is not only a kind of prison on their money, but they also think it’s way more complicated math-wise than some basic addition, division and subtraction.
Motto? Numbers give me a headache. Can’t you take care of it?
Until recently, my mother was a big-time Ostrich. She earned a lot of money, basically handed over whatever my father asked for “the bills” ($1000 for the gas? Yeah.. right.), and didn’t want to know or deal with what anything cost. If you told her there was no money for _______, she’d nod and make do without it. Even food. Personally, I was an Ostrich starting in college and ending about a few months after I graduated. I didn’t want to know about my money. As long as I wasn’t in credit card debt, I figured I was fine — it was just student loans for goodness sake! Money was just money. It went up, went down, and saving for retirement or to have a net worth never crossed my mind until I started budgeting, tracking my expenses and learning how to manage my money.
The Golddigger Princess
This woman is best represented by girls who go to college to get their MRS degree. What’s the MRS degree you ask? To become the Mrs. of a budding young lawyer, doctor and/or business tycoon by meeting them oh-so-innocently at their stalking spots — the library or in a dorm. They are smart enough to get into the right degrees to meet their future spouses, but aren’t really interested in using that degree when they graduate. They expect everyone around them to pay for them — parents, friends, boyfriend, siblings — and probably only work about 15 hours a week, if at all. Their money goes towards WANTS and savings are for losers. She’s also probably the definition of ‘high maintenance’, and you better know what you’re getting into when you start going out with her.
Motto? I deserve it it all and you better buy it for me. Or else.
I wasn’t a big-time Golddigger Princess mostly because people around me didn’t have money, however I did have one brief relationship in college where the guy basically paid for everything. I think I may have reached for my wallet once and he admonished me. I felt like a Golddigger Princess (which was actually kind of nice), but ultimately I couldn’t stay in the relationship because I felt like a child rather than an independent person. Plus, he had that traditional men+women belief system going on. No thank you. I wasn’t willing to give up my personal beliefs, views and independence just to have someone take care of me financially and buy me pretty things in exchange for a boring, opinion-less life. That’s not to say that women who are in this category are ‘weak’. They’re just seeking another lifestyle, and willing to give up what it takes to get it. They’re choosing in their own way.
This woman is best represented by any woman in a relationship who makes more than their spouse. Generally, this woman is not afraid to use that bigger income and rub it in their faces to justify spending what she spends. Secretly, she wishes she didn’t make more money so she could be taken care of, instead of being relied upon as the one who is in charge. Yes, she knows it’s silly to think that in this Age of Feminism (women’s rights and all that), but nevertheless, she resents her role. Just a little. Then again, not all Breadwinner Women are like this.
Motto? The one who earns the money, gets to decide.
My mother is also a Breadwinner in addition to being an Ostrich. She brings home 100% of the income, pays for everything and doesn’t rub it into anyone’s faces. We’re all super proud of her, and she’s proud of herself, never having imagined a young country girl who was educated and grew up in the middle of nowhere could have made it to such success, even by North American standards. I too, was also the Breadwinner at one point. I made more money, I was proud that I did, but I definitely resented it, and I realized my resentment stemmed less from not being taken care of (Golddigger Princess), but more that I felt it was unfair that I had to work 100%, pay 100%, and be with a someone who couldn’t be bothered to hold down a job. That’s why I am the way I am about money today. (I do agree that the one who earns the money gets to decide what to do with it.) Men may be okay with taking care of other women as the sugardaddy, but I was not cool with that role. If you are in that relationship and it works for you — all the power to you!
This woman is best represented by all women who have significant others that are Ostriches of some sort. Those significant others may also be a bit lazy and smart enough to pretend like they’re an Ostrich, but in reality, know exactly what they are doing when they miss a bill payment and so they can let her take control instead. She may also be a bit controlling, demanding, and may care too much about getting things done right. Generally, she ends up handling all the bills, all the payments, and manages cashflow because she’s sick of nagging about incurring (unnecessary) bank fees or missing bill payments because it’s just stupid.
Motto: FINE. I’ll take care of it.
I was this at one point in my life (same relationship as the Breadwinner). Boy couldn’t make a student loan payment to save his life, and didn’t seem to care that his bills would go to collections, and it would frustrate me to the point where I basically handled all the money in the household. EVERYTHING. What tipped me over the edge was that he went out and blew $600 on booze on a credit card for ‘stocking the apartment’, when we had student debt to pay. Ridiculous.
This woman is best represented by someone who may or may not insist on every joint expense being 50/50. At the very least, it has to be FAIR for both people. Anything else aside from those shared bills, are for her to save in her own retirement account under her own name. She also handles her own debt without asking anyone to deal with it (if she got into the mess, she better damn well get out of it), and she knows how to run a basic budget, even if she blows it once in a while. Even if someone else handles her money for her for whatever reason, she’s on top of them to see where they’re investing it, saving it, and spending it.
Motto: It’s my life and my choice.
I reached this point more than a few years ago after college, and I hope everyone does at some point to see how it feels. What works for me is 50/50, because I am not interested in becoming the Mommy any more. I like things to be clear and extremely fair on both sides. I know how it feels on the other side and it SUCKS. I do understand however, that someones you love someone who makes 3X what you do. You can’t possibly afford their lifestyle, and they don’t expect you to, so they enjoy taking care of you and treating you once in a while. All fine and dandy. Just be sure that if you want to call yourself an Independent, you better be able to still be able to take care of your bills and yourself no matter what happens.
IS ANY CATEGORY BAD OR GOOD?
Sometimes you play both roles. You’re the Breadwinner and the Independent. Or an Ostrich and a Golddigger Princess, or a mix of other roles. Not all these roles can necessarily be pigeonholed as ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’. Even being Independent can backfire, as it may not be what your future partner wants. Maybe you have to scale it back a little from being so fiercely Independent (counting down to the penny), to being a bit of a Golddigger Princess so that the relationship works smoothly, and they don’t feel like you don’t need them at all. It’s a choice that is made, and a social contract created between partners. If you don’t accept the terms, change the contract or break it. Otherwise, it is going to stay the way it is until you decide.
SO WHAT SHOULD WOMEN DO THEN?
- What is my net income after taxes?
- How much should I save each month, if I wanted to save 10% of my net income?
- What am I spending each month?
- How many years before I retire?
Understand that your money is not going to run out and start multiplying if you don’t actively do anything with it. Letting your debt take a hold of you to the point where you are resigned to being in debt for the rest of your life is dumb. Letting your money sit and rot in your no-interest (or low-interest) bank account because you’re paralyzed with fear about learning about how to do something with it is dumb.
Saving is not a prison for your money, and where fun times go to die.
Saving is the key to your mental sanity and it will give you a confidence boost in yourself that you never knew existed. As an example, I saved. A lot. When I worked that is.
(By virtue of my great job and my low and conscious living expenses due to budgeting and tracking where my money goes.)
Now, I have fun times by doing what I want, like traveling around the world, taking long work breaks and being happy, all while being under 30. The key is to start somewhere. DO something. I suggest you start by:
- figuring out how much you earn (net) each paycheque after taxes are removed
- start tracking where you spend your money each month
- analyze those monthly numbers
- create a budget
- stick to the budget the next month, while tracking where your money goes
- set goals for your money and life
- wash, rinse, repeat until you have a surplus of savings and/or you are getting out of debt