Part Two: Motherhood and Aging Parents
This is Part Two in our two-part series. Click here to jump to Part One: Childhood Through the Workplace.
Some girls and women are still getting the message that if they just find the “right” man, their financial worries will go “poof!” This stunts ambition and wage growth while fostering damaging notions of inequality and dependency. Since women earn less than men we’ve fallen into the mental habit of being grateful for what we’ve been offered. Some of us have even still been taught to find a man to take care of our needs and problems.
This kind of thinking becomes an expensive self-fulfilling prophecy. Women who think they “need a man” often spend a lot of energy and resources in pursuit of attracting a male partner.
Create or transform your career in a way that ensures your financial independence. Eliminate all your consumer debt, save at least 6 months of your income in a savings account, and start investing. Your “need” for a partner will transform into a want. You’ll become pickier and allow higher-quality men into your life!
It’s wonderful to want a man but even better when you know you don’t “need” one to survive financially.
In addition to all of the above-mentioned hurdles, women are expected to take care of children, aging parents and the household. Despite any progress we’ve made in the workforce, we’re still expected to carry the majority of child- and elder-care responsibilities. This has taken an especially sharp toll during the pandemic when many parents have had to do in-homeschooling.
The average caregiver is a 49 year old woman who works outside the home and provides 20 hours per week of unpaid care to her mother.*
Society expects women to work AND care for our loved ones. Women often sacrifice promotions or career moves that would benefit them (and their families) financially in order to care for their family. While noble and honorable work, this can lead to resentment and future financial loss if not managed well.
If you’re young in a relationship, take your time to think through your choices about if and when to get married and/or have kids. Openly discuss the expectations and roles for having children and how responsibilities will be shared. Man work and woman stay at home is rarely the case anymore
The same is true with aging parents. Speak with them about their needs and wants for long-term care and your role in these future scenarios. If they don’t have the financial resources to care for themselves, you may need or want to support them. Get a full picture of this expense and begin to build it into your financial plan. If you have siblings, discuss the physical, emotional, and financial cost of caring for your aging parents. You don’t need to do this alone just because you’re a woman.
U.S. health-care costs are out of control across the board. But women have even greater expenses than men largely because of our reproductive health needs. OB/GYN health places an additional layer of health care on top of what men need to pay for. Unfortunately, male counterparts and/or employers don’t always take these differences into account. Research by the Kaiser Foundation and the American Medical Association reveal the stark contrast .
Women also generally outlive their male partners so the cost of healthcare is higher due to the sheer fact that we live longer!
Make self-care and preventive medicine a top priority. Budget for it. Schedule regular check-ups. The “baked in” additional healthcare expenses facing women should be reduced as much as possible. Access to affordable women’s health clinics is vital.
The deck may not be stacked in our favor. However, proactive strategies can bring us a long way toward evening that deck.
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