There’s been a lot published recently on the national trend of women taking the lead in making financial decisions for their households. It’s a trend that Debbie Yearing, Branch Manager, and Erin Walsh, Assistant Branch Manager, of the West Scranton Office of Fidelity Bank, see every day, and they say it’s a healthy one. This week, they share insight into how women can be more proactive in their financial futures (and, spoiler alert, these tips will work for men, too!)
The Benefits of Being Proactive
“Women are being more assertive and more proactive when it comes to their finances,” Debbie said. They’re taking charge of their finances, establishing goals, and making solid plans for the future. “They’re taking the bull by the horns, and doing their own thing,” Debbie said.
They’re also actively participating in financial conversations and decisions with their significant others in ways that previous generations may not have. “Many women don’t feel that one person must be in charge of everything in the household,” Erin said. “They see financial decisions as a joint effort with their significant other, and they want to take equal responsibility.”
Perhaps they learned from their own past experiences, or gained insight from family members, or maybe this shift is the result of societal changes. Many people remember a time when the traditional family structure included mothers who managed the day-to-day household duties, and fathers who worked full-time as the sole providers for the family, just as generations before them had done. Today, it is much more prevalent for both partners to be part of the workforce. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2013 and 2017, females accounted for 58% of the civilian labor force (age 16 and older) in Pennsylvania. Similar statistics are found in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, where the percentages are 54% and 57%, respectively.
Whatever the reason behind this evolving trend, both bankers view the trend of women taking bigger roles in their finances as a healthy step. Not only will it benefit their financial futures, it’s good for their relationships, too. “There is a side benefit of women taking more responsibility and working with their significant others in household finances,” Debbie said. “That kind of teamwork really improves the relationship between two people because they’re working together to achieve the same goals.”
The ‘What If?’ Factor
Taking charge of their finances means women are asking themselves some important, and often difficult, questions. “I think more women are being proactive about asking ‘What if’?” Debbie said. “If something happened (to my significant other), could I do this on my own? I need to provide for my children, and I need to keep my house and my car.’ They’re thinking about that, which is very smart, because tragedies happen and if one person is out of the picture, you need a plan. In the past, tragedy could leave a woman devastated, without knowing what to do. Now our young people are being a little bit more proactive, and that’s a good thing.”
Other common questions that Debbie and Erin field regularly focus on home ownership and credit card debt. “More and more, female clients are coming in and they ask about their credit: how do they build it? What matters’?” Debbie said. “Then they may ask, ‘Do you think I could buy a house on my own? That used to never happen. So we say, ‘Of course you can!” At that point, clients are referred to the mortgage department and they will walk them through the process from beginning to end.
5 Financial Steps Every Woman Should Take Now
So what can women do today to set themselves up for financial success and stability? Plenty! Here are 5 financial steps every woman should pursue:
Everyone needs to be conscious of their credit score because having no credit is almost as devastating as having bad credit. We advise clients on how to establish a credit score, how it can increase, and how important it is for the rest of their life.” If you need to establish credit, a great way to get started is to apply for a secured credit card with Fidelity Bank. “Start small and build your credit.”
Erin suggests visiting a reputable, secure, free site like creditkarma.com to check your credit score, and pick up a few strategies on building credit, too.
Lasting Words of Financial Wisdom
There are moments in life when people close to you offer valuable advice that stays with you forever. For Debbie, one of those moments included financial words of wisdom from her parents that she shares with her clients. “Live within your means,” she said. “They instilled that in me. It doesn’t matter what your neighbors are doing, or what kind of clothes or house your neighbors have. You need to live within your means because if you don’t, it’s going to catch up with you at some point.” This is savvy advice that will withstand the test of time because developing a healthy relationship with money will ultimately enhance your quality of life.
So will budgeting a little fun into your financial plan, as Erin’s husband’s grandmother suggested to her. “She told me to budget for a little fun so you can enjoy your life,” Erin said. “You can’t just work, eat, sleep and do it all over again. If you don’t budget for some fun, you’ll get into a rut.” This doesn’t necessarily mean saving for a trip to Disney World. Fun can come in the form of a trip to the ice cream shop with the kids, taking in a movie, or enjoying a slice of pizza with your significant other. “Little things are so important,” she said.
Let’s Keep the Conversation Going
Small, positive steps lead to great financial benefits. If you’re ready to start the conversation about your financial future, let’s talk! Contact a Fidelity banker for a free consultation today.
Fidelity Bank has multiple local branch offices throughout Lackawanna and Luzerne counties, and our full-service Customer Care Center is at your service 7 days a week. Call or visit your local branch office today.
Daniel J. Santaniello, President and CEO, of Fidelity Bank, publishes Financially Fit with Fidelity, your guide to financial well-being, every Thursday. If you’re interested in a financial topic we haven’t yet covered or want to subscribe to our emails, please feel free to drop us a line at blog at fddbank dot com. We would love to hear from you.