In a recent survey conducted by St George Bank, 75%?of Aussie mum?s considered themselves to be the CFO of the household.
As CFO?s at home we are taking the reigns more and more when it comes to paying the bills, balancing the budget and general day to day management and spending of said money. Just another ?hat? we wear when we get 10 or so uninterrupted spare minutes to focus!
This hasn?t always been the case though. Even as little as 50 years ago, women had a greater financial dependency on others and traditionally, management of the family finances was reserved for the man of the house. Financial responsibility or the household and the associated money management skills are therefore a relatively new concerns for us.
Think beyond budgeting
For women, being smart with money has traditionally meant knowing how to stretch the family dollar further. Don?t get me wrong, I believe budgeting and saving are both very important parts of managing money well, and are essential in putting yourself in charge of your money fast. But the financial landscape is more complicated today.? We need to shift our focus from just cents saved here and there, to focusing on the bigger picture for our families.
Being intentional with money
Big picture thinking can be scary for all of us though. Bringing it front of mind makes our situation (good or bad) a reality.? Today, money is almost invisible. In a cashless economy where we can ?tap? to buy just about anything, we can go days without seeing our bank account balances.
For some of us, we won?t see our super account balances until they send us a statement at tax time every year. This invisibility means we have to be intentional about our finances. We have to bring it a little further forward in our minds so it is captured more frequently by the ?to do? list we run in our heads on a daily basis.
Covering all our bases
We need to broaden our fiscal interests to include big-picture financial planning. By this I mean educating ourselves on our insurances, investments, superannuation, and debts. After all, these are the things that allow us to take control of family finances over the longer term and research shows this is where we mums are the least confident in our abilities.
This doesn?t mean we all have to become financial advisers or investment analysts nor should we. By simply improving our knowledge in these areas we build our confidence and our capability as money managers at home.
Knowledge is power
Despite my studies and time spent in the industry, I still feel as though I never stop learning in this arena. The game is always changing, the advice is always changing and our circumstances are always changing, making it very difficult to stay on top of it all. But being money smart doesn?t mean having all the answers (no one does, not even the experts).
You don?t have to have a degree in finance to be able to make smarter decisions about your family?s finances. Here are three simple steps you can implement today to help build confidence in making these decisions:
- Every day read something about personal finance ? as a starting point, focus on the topics that elude you the most. If you?re a subscriber to my blog then you?re in luck. If not, there are plenty of personal finance news sites online to choose from.
- Take action on your own circumstances ? research that burning question you have, get around to working through that financial matter on your to do list, or pull out your last super statement and head over to SuperSavvy.com to decode it?s jargon. To do this, you will need to schedule some time each week for reviewing your financial matters so that you will stick to it. By learning in little chunks with a real example as a case study, you are more likely to commit what you?ve learnt to memory.
- Learn from the successes and failures of your family & friends ? people love talking about themselves, especially when they?ve had a win. There?s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to simple ideas that work (or don?t) when managing money. How often do you find yourself stop listening in a social setting when someone starts to talk about financial matters, quickly assuming or believing it?ll simply ?go over your head? anyway. You are likely surrounded by a wealth of knowledge & are simply unaware of it. By becoming a good listener and asking the right questions you can save yourself plenty of time. Even if you are only absorbing snippets here and there, like a jigsaw puzzle, you will start to see a bigger financial picture take shape that will eventually make sense.
Even the smartest money in the room started from nothing with their knowledge of money matters. Try to incorporate these simple behaviours into your everyday, consistently over the next month and see how your confidence and money management skills improve!