It was International Women’s Day last week, so I’d like to talk to you about a Q&A session I’m doing next week at a high school with a bunch of teenagers.
I’ve done a lot of work in schools over the years, and here’s what I can tell you: if you push them for an answer, most teenage girls will tell you that they see themselves getting married, buying a house, and having kids.
Whether they’ve given it much thought is debatable: the fact is, that’s what society has taught them to expect. Then again, society has also taught them that boys are more financially valuable than them.
We all know that women get paid less than men.
And it starts early. Last week the Heritage Bank released a study saying that, when it comes to pocketmoney, girls get paid 26 per cent less than boys.
I have no idea. I’m tempted to write it off as a publicity play from a third-tier bank.
After all, it’s hard to imagine that parents would actually pay a girl less pocket money than her brother of the same age, right?
Then again, it’s hard to believe that adults in corporate Australia — with HR departments and remuneration consultants — would on average pay an educated, accomplished women 19 per cent less than a similarly qualified bloke.
All of this goes someway to explaining why a NAB Wellbeing study this week found that young women under the age of 30 are more likely to be stressed about their finances than the rest of us.
That being the case, here are three things that I say to teenage girls when I talk to them.
WOMEN ARE BETTER INVESTORS THAN MEN
THIS is, like, so not fair.
However, the truth is that you have a natural advantage over men when it comes to investing.
Repeated studies show that women are much better investors than men, because they think long term and don’t take unnecessary risks.
Women have less ego, and are more willing to reach out and follow professional advice.
US-based financial firm SigFig analysed 750,000 portfolio accounts and found that women outperformed men by 12 per cent a year.
ROMEO MAY ARRIVE IN A RENTED ALFA ROMEO
DO you want the good news or the bad news?
The good news is that you’ll find a partner (the maths majors at the ABS say so). And I predict (well, the ABS does) that you’ll be walking down the aisle when you’re 28.3 years old. And you will have been shacked up with him for a number of years.
I also predict (with a little more help from the ABS) you’ll have your first kid at 29. (Scandal! Yes that’s right, you’ll be pregnant on your wedding day!). And you’ll be done and dusted with kids by the age 34.
Okay, now the bad news.
Once the kids come along, you get to work around the clock … and not get paid!
Worse, your husband could decide that because he’s the only one earning a wage, it’s time to treat you like a teenager (again) and ration out the cash.
Relationships Australia suggests that you will fight about money. Now, if you married a jerk, it will take you 8.8 years to work it out, suggests the ABS.
(A quick recap for the cool kids in the back row: you get married at 28.3, you have your first child at 29, and you’re back on Tinder at 37 … as a single parent.
But let’s not be too negative.
There’s a good chance you’ll marry that hot guy and live happily ever after (actually it’s two in three, says the ABS).
Until he dies.
Yes, those guys at the ABS just do not let up! The statistics are again in your favour — chances are you’re going to outlive him by 4.2 years.
Here’s the thing: in my job I see a lot of older women who haven’t played to their natural strength in being a superior investor.
The upshot is they have no freaking idea of how to manage their money. They’re petrified, and that’s no way to live.
A MAN IS NOT A FINANCIAL PLAN
I’VE been having fun with the ABS statistics, but the truth is, you’re unique. I don’t know what’s going to happen with your life. And right now you don’t know either.
However, the one thing I do know is that right now you are more powerful than you know.
Seriously, right now you have the ability to lay down million-dollar habits.
Saving. Not getting sucked in by marketers who aim to make you feel incomplete, so you’ll buy their stuff. And, of course, trying out your God-given talent for investing.
The reason it’s critical that you start doing it now — even with just a few bucks — is that today you don’t have anyone telling you that you can’t do it.
But over the next 10 years, believe me, you will.
It could be your boyfriend. It could be your boss. It might even be yourself.
Ladies, quite simply, a man is not your financial plan.
Now don’t get me wrong. The aim of all this is not to become rich.
It‘s not about living a Kim Kardashian lifestyle.
It’s not about coming back all botoxed up to your 20-year high school reunion.
It’s about being in control. It’s about being able to stand up for yourself.
And it’s ultimately about being able to sidestep a lot of the crap that many other women have to deal with.
And if you meet a guy who is intimidated by your financial prowess, that’s cool too …
You’ve just saved yourself 8.8 years.
Tread Your Own Path!