The (still) taboo conversation that every woman needs to have - Women's Agenda

The (still) taboo conversation that every woman needs to have

Women’s Agenda has added a new ‘Fin Hacks’ segment to its weekly podcast, bringing you the latest money stories and best tips to stay ahead. Thanks to Superhero for supporting this important endeavour.

In our lives and our careers, we expertly navigate all manner of conversations which are uncomfortable, but when it comes to freely talking about money, many of us still struggle.

There’s a good explanation: for decades, women have been told that their place is in the home while their husband’s place is in the office. They’ve been told to be the nurturers, while their husbands provide.

It’s a social and cultural expectation that’s persistently passed through generations and seen thousands of women relinquish their financial autonomy to the men they live with.

This of course leads to countless other issues. Retiring below the poverty line is a heartbreaking reality for millions of Australian women, especially those aged 55 and over who have faced a life unprotected from financial hardship.

While there are still significant barriers to overcome, (like the gender pay gap still sitting at 14.2%), younger generations of Australian women are calling time on an era of financial inequality.

They’re exploring new ways to invest, new opportunities to save and new approaches to get ahead over the long term. Superhero chief executive John Winters sees many young women and new investors choosing sustainable, diversified investing strategies instead of trying to make a quick buck.

But while these leaps forward are hugely encouraging, shifting the status quo doesn’t happen overnight. Attaining financial equality is dependent on a huge range of factors, and one of the biggest is our capacity to have free and open dialogue about our money goals with our employers, friends and partners.

Below are a few pointers on how to do just that.

Night out with friends? Start a conversation about investing.

We talk to our closest friends about everything from sex to politics but why is it still rare for us to talk about money? According to recent research from U.S Bank, 52% of women say they talk about money with friends, compared to 61% of men. It’s another one of those pesky gender gaps we need to work hard to close.

So, next time you’re out for dinner (or on a Zoom wine date), drop a question in to find out more about how your friends are managing their finances and where they’re investing their money.

Your friends could be the secret weapon you need to gain more financial control and set yourself up for the future.

“The only reason I ever started with a micro-investing app was because my friend opened up about hers a couple of years ago when we were having a drink together,” says Lana Baker*, a 31-year-old living in Sydney.

“I’d never thought of it before but seeing how easy it was for her to manage and talking to her about her experience and the benefits, compelled me to explore it further. Sitting together, she helped me set it up and showed me how to maximise my investments. It’s a nest egg that I would never have had otherwise,” she says.

Let your prospective partner know where you stand

When you’re in the early days of dating someone new, it’s critical that you start to gauge their relationship with money and whether there are gaps in your values that are too significant to overcome.

It’s understandable that you might be reluctant to broach the topic, as people’s attitudes to money are often heavily influenced by their experiences growing up, their background, or social expectations, and opening up this dialogue can place significant new pressures on a fledgling relationship. But these stresses will only increase if you move in together, get married, or start a family, so it’s best to bite the bullet.

Have a frank talk about what their goals are (both short and long-term), what they value in life, and how they manage their money now.

If you’re already in a long-term relationship and your partner is the one that manages the money, it’s time to talk to them about shifting and sharing this responsibility. Suggest talking to a financial planner together or setting some time aside to work through a budget and get on top of your finances. Reclaiming some autonomy will not only empower you, but also help to protect you from financial loss should your relationship ever break down.

Make your financial goals clear to your employer right now

In Women’s Agenda’s recent survey of 1400+ women, we discovered that the leading ambition for women in 2021 is to earn more money.

But telling our employers this can feel daunting. Many of us still avoid conversations about pay rises and working our way up the corporate ladder even while we’re working our butts off to make our mark. 

The truth is your employer wants you to be ambitious. They want you to commit yourself to your role and maximise your output, so they’ll understand when you come knocking for more money.

The best thing to do is to open a line of communication about this early on. Set up regular check-ins with your manager and let them know what your goals are and your plan for getting there. Ask them for advice and about the ways in which the business can support you.

Start building a business case of your achievements and don’t be scared to make noise about your wins. Find a senior sponsor in your organisation who you can relay this to, and who’ll vouch for you when it comes time to get a promotion.

Don’t hold back!

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