When I started my first post-college job, I had to look up how much money I should be making. Never mind that I had a flock of friends who were all accepting their first job offers, too. While we celebrated each other’s new careers, we never once discussed how much we were each making, or even how much we wished we were making. Salary discussions were strictly off-limits.
Lately, though, I’ve noticed a shift. After I made the jump to freelance life a year ago, former coworkers kept coming out of the woodwork to tell me how much I should be charging for different projects. When I flirted with the idea of taking another full-time job, no fewer than three people advised me on what I should expect for a salary offer. And once I dropped the news that I’d be going back to school to get my master’s degree next fall, it was as if I’d turned on the tap: in came advice on opening 529 accounts, how to manage new student loans, and the best ways to save up for my no-income years.
Chalk it up to the overshare culture or the hastened fight to smash the patriarchy: Women are talking about money like never before. In a new research survey commissioned by Visa and conducted by Trendera, nearly one in two millennial women say they enjoy offering up money advice or helping their friends with finances, as mine have with me. It's an exciting departure from silent days of yore, though it’s not the only shift. Women are talking more frankly than ever about money, but still bumping up against a culture that hasn’t quite caught up.
To keep tabs on the shifting money mindset, Bustle took a closer look at Visa's commissioned research to explore how millennial women think and talk about money — and how it relates to society’s expectations. Here’s the state of the union.
Women Are Setting Goals — Then Sharing Them
Making money moves starts with talking about them, and that’s what women are doing. Visa’s research reports that 61 percent of millennial women surveyed plan to or have discussed their financial goals with their partners before getting married or having kids, while only 52 percent of millennial men do the same. It’s a promising stat, since verbalizing next steps can lead to making a plan and, ultimately, achieving those dreams.
They’re Keeping Their Own Money, Thank You Very Much
Women may combine friend groups and closets with their significant others, but not finances: Nearly two-thirds of millennial women in relationships surveyed say that keeping a separate bank account helps them to feel independent from their partner. It’s an obvious improvement from the days when women had limited access to their own money, but it’s also a sign that millennial women are getting more comfortable wielding their money as a source of power.
Women’s Demands Have Changed, But They Worry About What Their Bosses Are Saying
For years, women were told that they need to speak up for themselves and ask for raises. It turns out they were already doing that — they just weren’t getting what they asked for. Those rejections have left women afraid to speak up: Three in five millennial women fear backlash when asking for a raise, Visa's commissioned research found, and three in five millennial women surveyed worry they’ll be seen as difficult when asking for a salary bump. (For good reason: An astounding 84 percent of millennial women say their fellow females are negatively judged for negotiating a salary.) With women aboard the asking-for-more train, it’s work culture that needs an adjustment.
They’re Planning Ahead — With Or Without A Partner
No more waiting around for Prince Charming. Only two in five millennial women surveyed are married, but three in four are saving for the future, 62 percent are either buying a home now or plan on doing so in the next 3 years or later in life, and 31 percent already own a house. That’s good news for all involved: Women are forging ahead independently, and if and when they do get married, both partners can enter the union on equal footing.
Women Are Still Rewriting The Rules
We’re at a weird point in our financial culture. Women are raring to earn what they’re worth, but certain societal expectations are stuck in the past: Visa's commissioned researched found that 72 percent of millennial women — and a whopping 80 percent of millennial guys — still expect men to be the breadwinner. Those mixed signals can be exhausting, but the tension is also a sign of change.
The stats paint a promising picture. Sure, these days women are still hitting glass ceilings, but they're armed with more information and determination than ever. The money conversations they're having — with friends, bosses, partners and themselves — are moving the needle, and the more we talk about the kinds of money changes we'd like to see in our personal and professional lives, the more realistic they become.
This post is sponsored by Visa.
Millennial Research Study 2019, conducted by Trendera, commissioned by Visa.