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Wealth Virtues Journal: October 19, 2010

Women, Money, and Virtues: The New American Revolution

Filed under: Virtues in Practice — Tags: , , , , — James Ward @ 3:16 pm
© 2009 Poor Richard Web Press, LLC

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As a father of three wonderful, strong, intelligent daughters, the husband of a fiscally savvy woman, and the brother of a woman who started a multi-million dollar business from nothing, I can honestly say that I was influenced dramatically in the writing of WEALTH VIRTUES by seeing what my sister did, benefiting from what my wife does, and hoping for what my daughters will achieve. To that end, I also find it necessary to see why it is more important now more than ever to live in a society where women need to have a broader view of finances, from what they already master – the household finances, to a more long range view of financial security.

In May of 2010, Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth Duke briefed at the Financially Hers program in Philadelphia on “Challenging the Myths of Women and Money.” In her speech, she alluded to some stark facts:

  • Women are quite likely to be solely responsible for financial decision-making at some point in their lives. Indeed, as women age, the probability of living alone increases.
  • Women have lower average wages, lower lifetime earnings, and are less likely to be covered by a pension plan
  • Nearly two-thirds of U.S. women ages 40 to 79 have already dealt with a major financial “life crisis,” such as job loss, divorce, the death of a spouse, or serious illness

Now let’s see how one can go about changing those facts above to fiction.

My wife handles all the financial decisions related to running a home. That does not mean she has no idea about long term financial planning.  In fact, because of our shared decisions in long term financial goals, and because I use the tools and principles in WEALTH VIRTUES to make sound long term investment decisions, long term planning is easier to manage.  By handling details of the day-to-day finances, my wife’s use of Frugality, Moderation, and Resolution to keep us debt free, to save money, and to achieve short term goals, allows us to put the greatest amount possible into our long-term retirement savings.

The American WomanLower average wages and lower lifetime earnings by women is an unwritten financial rule that is being rewritten by more energized, and better educated women.  The gap is still there, but it is closing.  What skews the results is that women tend to be the caregiver and homemaker, regardless of whether they have an additional job or career outside of the home.  For younger women, I suggest using the tools and advice supported by the practice of Franklin’s virtues within WEALTH VIRTUES to build a base of long term savings.  In WEALTH VIRTUES, I talk about rules that people think they have to follow, but only because “everyone does it.” These rules are nothing more than notions that people follow because they fear to take risk.  I discuss the use of non-linear thinking as a means of breaking out of the norm and achieving the wealth you believe you require.

Avoiding financial “life crises” simply requires a bit of planning that you can start in any period of your life. Planning is a big part of the Cycle of Wealth, a cyclic decision tool described in WEALTH VIRTUES to use to ensure your financial decisions have an advantageous outcome. Another factor is health.  Though some circumstances are unavoidable, many health problems can be prevented through a consistent healthy diet and exercise regimen. Regardless of how you think you will receive your health care coverage, the fact is that baby-boomers will overwhelm the number of doctors in the next few decades leading to longer wait times or perhaps rationing. This is all the more reason for women to not only live an extraordinarily healthy lifestyle, but to encourage their spouse to do the same.

Benjamin Franklin realized in the 1770’s that even as loyal Britons, the American colonists were straining to break the bonds of a restrictive and pejorative king, to master their own financial destiny, and to determine their own secure financial future with the hope of maintaining a string relationship with the close relations across the Atlantic.  So too must my daughters seek to bypass unwritten financial rules and seek their “pursuit of happiness” with as much education and moral guidance both of their parents can provide.  If you read the Forward of Wealth Virtues (available as a “see inside” from Amazon), you will also see how my wife staged her own revolution, and won, to make us both stronger individually, and as a couple, much in the same way America and the United Kingdom remain allied in common principles, ethics, morals, and unwavering friendship.

WEALTH VIRTUES focuses on financial success for all individuals regardless of gender, race, religion, or nationality. But using the facts above presented by Fed Governor Duke, it is imperative that women take note that it is they who now have the greatest opportunity in history to shift the dynamics of financial success at the grass roots level to increase not only the security for their family, but to ensure the financial success of their children. I believe this will ultimately allow America to reemerge as the financial powerhouse envisioned by the founding fathers, steering away from the practice of failed socialist experiments and undeserved entitlements. Built with a foundation of virtue, this future will be one of mass achievement with a conscience that willingly and efficiently cares for those that still need help.

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