Money-Smart Kids/Don't neglect your daughter
Don't give me that dirty look. Statistics say you are neglecting your daughter. You're a bad parent!
Now that I've got your attention, let me tell you why many parents are missing the financial literacy boat with their daughters.
For over a year, I've been worrying about my daughter Samantha; she hasn't been interested in having conversations concerning money when I've tried to broach the topic. I know this shouldn't be a shock to me, as she's only 5 years old. But the other day, she finally asked for a piggy bank -- which I jumped at the opportunity to do for her. I've been eager for her to show even the slightest interest in learning about money because there are many issues I'm concerned about when it comes to educating her about money.
Every study I've recently come across shows a disparity between men and women on the subject of financial literacy. Just this week, another study hit my inbox, "The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy for 2012." The research report showed that women continue to trail behind men in several crucial areas of financial education, including basic money management and investing knowledge and confidence.
If you couple the results of this study with a few other real-life facts, you'll see why I'm concerned for Samantha. Think about these life realities:
Women live, on average, five years longer than men.
The National Center for Women and Retirement Research reported that nine out of 10 women will be solely responsible for their finances
at some point of their adult life.
Death of a spouse and divorce weigh heavily into this statistic.
Women generally make less throughout their lifetimes. Of course, Samantha won't fall into this category, but that is certainly the delusional parent coming out in me.
Social Security payments are generally lower for women.
Health-care costs are typically higher for women.
Now, I don't have a theory as to why this gap exists; I'll leave that to the educational experts to ponder. I also don't think developing money smarts is any more important for women than men. It's important for everyone to develop a strong foundation of financial knowledge. And while I share my position on this topic, the fact remains that the gap exists. Bringing that fact to the front of your mind must certainly be part of the solution. Clearly knowing about the gap won't hurt.
I can tell you I'm a bit surprised, as the majority of couples who come in to see me for financial planning, more often than not, are led by the female. That's right, in my professional experience, the wife is leading the financial-planning charge and in most cases seems to have a greater interest in the process than the husband.
At the end of the day, the financial literacy gap is closed by those who helped create it: we the parents. What have you done the first half of this year to be proactive in teaching your daughter about money? Really nothing? If that's the case, go back up and look over the bullet points to see what the unintended consequences might be if you're not prioritizing education in your household.
Tom Henske is a Westport resident and partner with Lenox Advisors, a wealth- management firm with offices in New York and Stamford. His "Money-Smart Kids" appears every other Wednesday. He can be reached at email@example.com.