“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” – Audre Lorde
So how can women’s financial empowerment keep sparks flying for lovers the world over? Fortunately, I have Anna Haotanto, Singapore-based CEO and Founder of The New Savvy, to help me count the ways. But first, let’s define what we mean by women’s financial empowerment.
Closing the gender pay gap and instituting better maternity (and paternity!) benefits are two big aspects. But we also mean things that don’t require larger policy changes, like boosting your financial literacy and sharing household financial decision-making with your significant other.
While personal finance doesn’t exactly evoke the warm-and-fuzzies, it does have a major impact on romantic relationships around the globe. In fact, money is the leading cause of stress in relationships. And multiple studies find that one-third of couples have serious recurring arguments about money-related issues. While these studies focus on American audiences, Anna finds these trends similar in Asia.
But what’s women’s financial empowerment got to do with it? Here are a few ways leveling the financial playing field in your relationship can extend benefits far beyond your bank account.
How Women’s Financial Empowerment Can Improve Your Love Life
- Fewer Arguments and Less Stress
In most societies, men are typically the breadwinners who manage family finances. In fact, one-third of married women in developing countries are powerless over household spending on major purchases. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the global population is considered financially illiterate. Evidently financial health is not guaranteed solely by making money. So why not let the ladies lend a hand?
Here’s what happens when money isn’t a taboo topic and couples work together as a team. They have equal access to household financial information. They educate themselves together on personal finance. And they make financial decisions jointly, particularly major ones. Considering nearly 80% of couples who talk about money at least once a week say they are happy, it sounds like it’s worth a try for lovers everywhere!
Anna suggests that greater balance of financial power can lessen resentment between partners when things go wrong. Also, stress is reduced when partners have a savvy confidant with whom to share decision-making and other financial responsibilities. And women often experience boosted self-esteem when they can earn money that contributes to family income.
- More Income to Support Your Desired Lifestyle
Some women may not want to or have to work. And that’s great. But for those who do, additional income for your relationship means greater financial security, and hopefully some discretionary funds for the fun stuff. More date nights. More traveling. Fancier clothes. Or whatever you desire.
While quality time with your significant other doesn’t have to cost a thing, sometimes those exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities come with a price tag. Money can be a double-edged sword, but the “good” edge can help prevent your relationship from going stale, or even toxic.
To borrow a quote from Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, “Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”
- Financial Security for Whatever Happens
In college, Anna volunteered with many women stuck in unhappy relationships because they couldn’t support themselves— not to mention their children—if they left their spouse. This experience motivated Anna to become financially independent so that she never ended up in the same situation.
Some relationships last forever. Some shouldn’t. And some don’t. So always be prepared to stand financially on your own two feet, both in your ability to generate sufficient income and to make good financial decisions with that income. If one relationship ends, keep your personal finances on point so you can experience all the blissful benefits of numbers 1 and 2!
How Women (and Anyone!) Can Achieve Financial Empowerment
While you help push for larger scale policy changes across the globe, Anna has plenty of other tips to strengthen your love life now, regardless of your gender!
She says read at least one finance or business article daily. Find resources that limit the use of confusing financial jargon, like The New Savvy. Also, make your money work for you. Learn to invest, or build a home-based business, particularly when you’re caring for young children.
Additionally, consider consulting a licensed financial professional. Sometimes we need a reality check to realize we’re in a bad situation. But shop around for a consultant whom you trust will identify proper solutions for your specific needs. According to Prudential, “Only one in five women feel the financial services industry truly understands their needs—the same percentage as men.”
Lastly, maintain an affordable lifestyle and start saving early. Estimate future income and expenses, like health care and insurance, and update your retirement plan accordingly.
Now the rest is up to you! Go spread the love!