THE BLOG

Women Need to Learn About Finance

09/09/2013 12:39 EDT | Updated 11/09/2013 05:12 EST

Have your childhood experiences with money impacted your relationship with it later in life? If you answered "yes", you would be falling in line with some recent research from Australia where they found that these factors underpin or influence how women make decisions about money.

Now I grew up in the UK, where money was a taboo subject. It just wasn't polite or acceptable to talk about money, how you made it or spent it. And generationally, I grew up at a time when women were expecting their knight in shining armour to come and take care of them. Now I still have my knight, but with divorce rates at an all-time high, many women don't.

And nor should we expect someone else to provide for us. Younger women appear to have got that, and are working hard on their careers, rather than dreaming of weddings and babies.

In the research they found that most of women's financial decisions were based on what was best for the family, but as the researchers pointed out, when they retire so many women are living on just over half of what men had socked away, which flags the need for women to be planning for themselves, not just for their family.

Too often it was found that the women would allow the big financial decisions to be made by their partner or spouse, which could put them at a disadvantage, especially if their partner's investments went sour.

Given this hot topic, I was recently interviewed by Global TV on women and money, and based on my experiences in working with women business owners, I shared that a lack of financial literacy was an issue, one that held women back from achieving more financial success in their business.

Yet, it is hard to get women out to learn how to read a financial statement, make a budget or develop a monthly cash flow statement. At Company of Women, we've tried to offer such programs in the past but to no avail.

The only time we managed to get a decent number of women together was when we marketed the workshop as "How to Grow your Business." And much of the focus, unbeknownst to them was to be on the finances, because until you get a handle on where the money goes and how it comes in, it is hard to grow your business, because you don't really know what is working best for you.

One of the questions I was asked by the reporter related back to the family and how we educate our children on money - - was this the responsibility of the school or parents she asked? My response was both.

Introducing real-life situations and teaching money management in the school system makes sense. Years ago I used to work with teen mothers and we would make them work on their tax returns as part of their math credit. They appreciated the opportunity to put their math skills to some practical use.

On the home front, we gave our daughters an allowance from an early age on, which they had to manage, and when they were teenagers, it went on clothes so did not always spread as far as they liked.

One of the girls was into riding and wanted to compete in certain horse shows. Now as any parent who has a horse-loving child will tell you, this is an expensive pastime -- a true money pit. So my husband made her do almost a business case, in which she had to work out how much it would cost to trailer the horse, the competing fees, etc...To me this was a lifelong skill that she learned because as we all know as adults, we can't always afford to do what we want, when we want it, sometimes we just have to save up and wait.

But what you don't want to wait on is getting a handle on your finances. These days with the high divorce rates, early demise of partners, it behooves women to invest in themselves, to take charge of their money, so that their financial future is protected.