Last week, I had lunch with an old friend of mine named Jovan. I hadn’t seen her for a year since she suddenly married a man she had been dating for a while. I couldn’t help but wonder if this distance between us was because I had rained on her love-parade awhile back. When they were dating, there were many red flags about this man, and I felt her love was clouding her judgment. I’ve learned in life that part of being a good friend is to say things you really don’t want to say. It is an act of love to help people not make terrible mistakes.
The moment we sat down for lunch, Jovan told me that she just filed to annul her marriage because of fraud — something that was both heartbreaking and unsurprising to hear. In short, he had been taking advantage of her for the past three years and conned her out of about $20,000, including taking out loans in her name. In addition to this, he had a girlfriend and a baby who were in on it, too.
There were so many things that made my blood boil. Jovan is more generous than almost anyone I know, and it crushes me that anyone would take advantage of that. I could see how this con artist had reduced my friend to a puddle of insecurity. It seemed to be all a part of her “husband’s” manipulative plan: crush her spirit, then take her money. When I was writing this blog post about what women should be doing to ensure they are securing themselves financially, I had just learned about this situation with Jovan. In a sense, the accumulation and growth of wealth knows no gender, and while there is certainly income inequality, the principles are the same whether you are a man or a woman.
However, sometimes financial struggles can be psychological, emotional, or relational, and while these struggles are not gender-specific, I think that on average (in my experience), women tend to struggle more with insecurity. Insecurity can lead to terrible financial mistakes, possibly making you more susceptible to outside control. They may not be as dramatic as Jovan’s situation, but I’ve had clients whose husbands are major spenders, yet they themselves are very financially responsible. When you are married, it’s very easy to get tangled up in your spouse’s terrible decisions. I’ve had clients who are constantly bailing their spouse out financially or taking out loans because their spouse has terrible credit.
I know that these are tough situations to be in. You may have children, or it’s hard to say “no” to your spouse — many of us are wired to just “keep the peace.” However, to those who may be taking their finances seriously, but have a partner who is not on board with it, it will feel like treading water with a ball and chain around your ankle. My advice is this:
1. Own your own
Take heart that your own personal finances, apart from your partner’s, should be regarded as precious. Just like with my friend Jovan — I will be blunt in saying that someday, it’s possible that you could face loneliness, but the wealth you create between now and then could be yours and yours alone.
I’m not saying this is everyone, but between a divorce rate of 50% and the fact that 70% of wives outlive husbands (it would be 50% chance of outliving your spouse in a same-sex couple), we can estimate that around 80% of those reading this who aren’t alone financially will be at some point. You need to “own your own.” This means making solid financial decisions that will optimize your long-term wealth.
2. Save & invest as much as you can
The only way anyone ever saves up money is to actively choose not to spend it. Save up as much money as possible. Invest that money primarily in the stock market and never, ever sell it, particularly when the stock market goes into decline. This is the most important point I can make on this.
3. Work on improving your interpersonal strengths
It is important to not let your interpersonal insecurities cause financial insecurities. Your long-term financial strength depends on you finding the interpersonal strength today, and these would include working on how you communicate verbally and nonverbally, your assertiveness, how you listen, how you negotiate, as well as how you approach problems and decision-making.
These three pieces of advice will guide you as you work on eliminating your financial insecurities and focus on your financial success.
Chad Gordon is the founder and CEO of GreenStar Advisors and author of the book Wealth by Virtue. He advises individuals, couples, and families toward wealth-optimized decisions using holistic financial planning, disciplined investment strategies, and proactive personal service.
CleverGirlFinance.com is a financial education platform that provides women with financial guidance that will inspire them to pursue and achieve their dreams of financial independence.
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