Wednesday, 2 June 2010

why a man is not a financial plan

from monday's waikato times, this interview with the author of "why a man is not a financial plan", joan baker:

For those women banking on a marriage to see them through, financial adviser Joan Baker, author of Why a man is not a financial plan, and Smart Women delivers her killer question.

"Whatever your age or stage you should ask yourself: what would be mine or what would be my circumstance if he died, or left or whatever?"

However unsettling, she says, this mental exercise is critically important. The calculations, stripped of alimony fantasies and factoring in pay expectations and childcare costs, if relevant, can be revealing. By some estimates, a woman's standard of living drops an average of 73 per cent in the first year after divorce. The future doesn't get any brighter.

Of the elderly living in poverty, three out of four are said to be women and 80 per cent of them were not poor when they were partnered. Overall, nearly seven out of 10 women are projected to live in poverty some time in their lives.

Given the depressingly high divorce rate that forecasts a 50 per cent chance of marital success, there is reason to worry and even better reason to plan.

all of this basically ties into the point i was making in my last paragraph here. it's all very well to raise the issue, but the more important question is how to make that money and keep yourself financially secure. ms baker deals with unequal pay and discrimination in the workplace, issues which we have dealt with at length here. she also talks about self-employment and the difficulties with that. i also thought this bit was interesting:

"Obviously it isn't universally true but the bias is in that direction," says Baker. Those who would argue otherwise just need to look at the spending differences between men and women, she argues. "If you look generally at how women spend their wages or salary, a huge amount of that money goes into presenting well and looking good, whereas men's money will generally speaking be more likely go into what turns out to be good assets as opposed to handbags and shoes."

well yes, a little bit of a generalisation there, but the underlying point that women are under a lot of pressure to spend their money on their appearance is a valid one. it's a pressure that's constant and pretty hard to resist.

the piece (and possibly the book?) is aimed at professional women. but there are so many who are dealing with poverty and struggling at day-to-day living. they are just as much in need of financial planning and societal solutions around better pay and conditions. a pity that this wasn't covered as well.

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