Save. Spend. Splurge.

Women are being taught to scrimp pennies not to make bank

Ever notice that the message being directed at women versus men are different in tone? I have. In the years from blogging about money, I still see that money talk directed towards women, has an emphasis on frugality and pinching pennies, not on increasing income.

In personal finance, women are taught to be frugal, do any of these sound familiar?

  • How to save money on groceries
  • How to use coupons and discounts to get the best sales
  • How to budget frugally for your family
  • How to stop wearing makeup / make natural makeup to save money
  • How to stop shopping
  • … and so on

In contrast, men are taught to increase their income, and invest it.

I am not saying that being frugal is a bad thing, in fact, it is half of the equation to getting rich.

If you do not save your money, and have an emergency fund, know how to budget/allocate your money (even if you don’t track it daily like I do because I am a money geek), then you are going to not have any resources for the other half, which is to invest it. All of it matters, but at the end of the day, you can only cut so much from spending and in your budget, whereas your income potential is less limiting.

So instead of being told to increase their income, or negotiate, women are told to focus on SAVING and CUTTING, it is because..

THESE are safe AND ACCEPTED METHODS to get more money that does not impact their expected role in society.

you will become a ‘career’ woman IF YOU DO

This is not a bad thing to me, and to many people out there, but in earlier generations, being seen as a “career woman” who would put her job and income over wanting to start a family, or to spend 24/7 with them, including giving up their career to become mothers, or go on extended maternity leave…. was a bad thing. In fact, women today are still being seen as being societally responsible for everything household + family related. If you choose any path, or variation of being a Mother Hen, you’re given the side eye.

Source: Sue Rynns

A high school friend once told me her father said to her bluntly: Why do you need more schooling and to graduate high school, let alone go to university? You’re smart enough already for a girl. .. So there’s also that. There’s an implication that women don’t need education or schooling because all they’re really good for, is childbearing and domestic duties – and what do they need education for?!

Women are expected to give up their jobs once they become mothers, and if they don’t, they’re barraged (as I was) with many inane questions like:

  • Who is watching the baby? … (Uhh.. his father? Daycare workers? No, I am such a terrible mother, I simply left him alone at home and hoped for the best. /sarcasm)
  • Oh don’t you want the best for your family? ... (Are you judging me and morally against my working outside of the home? Are you saying it is a bad thing for my family and ergo, I am somehow ruining my child because I have kept my job and did not dedicate my body and soul to them?)
  • You know that babies need their mothers ... (What’s his father? Dog meat?)

Why does nobody ever ask the father these stupid questions?

Again, if you choose to be a stay at home parent, for WHATEVER REASON (I do not care), as long as YOU CHOSE to be one, then it is the right choice, in the same way that if I CHOSE to be a parent who works outside of the home, it is also the right choice.

So no, no one is going to push the idea that you should as a woman, focus on your career and making bank because it means you will become so obsessed with your job and making money that you will forget your only acceptable societal duty on earth – bearing and raising children; then once you have said children, if you do not devote your life 100% to them and supporting the family (particularly the father) like an unpaid, unappreciated maid, you’re automatically a bad mother.

NEGOTIATING MEANS YOU ARE NO LONGER A “NICE” WOMAN

In the same vein, I got called ‘greedy’ for wanting more money. Not by the company, but by a colleague, when I asked for more money. Negotiating, is not something “nice women do”. Cue eyerolls.

All of this, I suspect, is a way to keep women on the payroll as the ones who work just as hard, if not harder (in my experience anyway), for a much lower pay. It all stems from the idea that a woman’s paycheque is ‘pin money’, deriving from the past when women got jobs as a side thing, a lark really… to earn money to buy pins for their hats.

Women didn’t really work to provide for the family. Women breadwinners did not exist until recently. It is even now, a new phenomenon that a woman would make more money for the family, therefore, when employers see women making money or in a salaried position, they do not automatically assume (as they do with men) that she needs that money to support her family. They assume it’s a throwaway job, and offer less, partly because they want to save money, but also because many simply value women less, and see them as lesser than men, even if it is wholly untrue.

(Oh the number of times I have indirectly heard men say that women just simply don’t understand the job or can’t do it…)

If you negotiate, you are going against the role of being a nice, sweet, eventual future Mother Hen. You are asking for more money, you greedy woman, when it should be a man that gets that extra money for his family! How dare you take money out of his pocket for his family!

All of this is outdated hogwash, as you know, but it is subconsciously what people think. Even women have internalized this misogyny and don’t want to ask for more money in fear of looking greedy, or being perceived as “tough” or “not nice”, all of which are things men revel in being.

SAVING NOT INVESTING IS THE STORY FED TO WOMEN

Saving your pennies. Cutting out coupons.

Women are also never taught to look at not only increasing their income, but to invest it.

Instead, it is about couponing. Cutting out luxuries like a haircut. No one tells women – Hey, save your money aside, great, and DO NOT FORGET TO INVEST IT.

Women are actually EXCELLENT savers. I have yet to come across a woman who was budgeting and into money, that did not know how to save and save well. The problem is the second part of that wealth equation which is to INVEST those savings. That is where most women falter and do not take the leap.

Source: Mona Chalabi

Women are told that MEN are the investors, and women are SAVERS, and they grow up with the notion that they can save their family and household money, but then where those savings go, are for the menfolk to decide because they know better because it is supposedly difficult, technical, complicated, and involves math.

This whole notion starts when you’re a little girl in school, being shamed out of wanting to excel at Math or Science, because it isn’t feminine. Or being in a class and being hassled by the boys in there, who seem overly confident in their answers but probably know less than you do. The Imposter Syndrome sets its claws in women at a very young age.

Just look at what items are targeted in stores to boys and girls. Boys get NASA tees, girls get tees about being cute. It’s so prevalent, and ingrained in everything you look at, watch, or buy once you start taking note of it and observing the message being sent to each gender.

So, it is no surprise to me at all, that if MATH is considered difficult, then Investing is on another planet. It sounds boring as well, to boot. It doesn’t sound that interesting to talk about stock markets and rates of returns, MERs, or dividends… but if it was packaged correctly to appeal to women in a way of “Hey, look at this financial security and solid, quiet wealth you can gain by investing”, rather than using the same approach to appeal to men (“Hey, look at all this money you can earn so you can become filthy rich and WIN at life”), more women would be interested.

They also like to throw out very technical terms without breaking them down for investors. I didn’t know what MER meant when I started, but I sure knew what “Income versus Expenses” meant when I was learning how to budget. It’s just easier to deal with budgeting and saving, than it is to take the next, advanced level step into investing.

Lastly, women aren’t as risky as men in their choices. Stability. Security. These are words that make us excited, not High Risk = High Returns, or anything about “winning” at life. The stock market is portrayed as a risky spot where you could LOSE ALL YOUR MONEY (yeah, maybe if you invest in meme stocks and high risk crypto), but no one ever talks about index ETFs, or investing in multiple companies at once rather than just one, to spread out your risk and diversity.

Women are great at saving but they shy away from investing, but it’s because it is partly not packaged in an appealing manner to women, and it takes a lot of unpacking of internalized misogyny and imposter syndrome from years of being told you aren’t enough.

WOMEN ARE SHAMED FOR THEIR WANTS

And of course, let’s not forget the perennial shame and guilt of spending on what the personal finance community as deemed as frivolous, which includes anything women could be interested in – home decoration, artwork, clothing, makeup, books, etc. If you don’t have money, it is because you must have blown it on these frivolous items that have zero value. /sarcasm

All of that is nonsense, frivolous, and you should be ashamed for wanting to wear eyeliner and buy a cute rug for your home. You should instead, save that money because your wants are not important, and actually, they’re useless wants. Who needs a nice leather designer bag when a plastic one would do just fine?

In contrast, buying a computer, a car, a drone – these are things that men budget for and are “useful”, and therefore, items that pass the personal finance test of being worthy of money.

Of course, not everything is as black and white as what I am stating, but that’s kind of the feeling I get. A lot of posts and talking about shaming women on getting their eyebrows microbladed, because it’s such a waste of money to feel great about looking great, when you should just be happy you have a face.

So.

Is it any wonder we make less money and have less even though we live much longer than our male counterparts?

(Oh I didn’t even get into how women are also expected on top of being the Mother Hen, to also be the Dutiful Daughter(In-Law), to take over all sorts of Elder Care from her side of the family and his as well, which also takes a hit to her career and ambitions, if she even really had one to begin with..)

So no. Women are not given the same start, education, message, expectations or ideas as men, and yet we somehow expect them to turn out differently.

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