Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it. According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 Millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. Bustle's Get Money series gets real about what Millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your finances should feel empowering, not intimidating.
Being able to talk about money should be a basic part of any relationship, in part because it's a good indicator of your compatibility. “Talking about money is immensely important,” Priya Malani, co-founder of Stash Wealth tells Bustle. “Studies show that spending habits and money decisions are a very clear indicator of your values and priorities in life. So if you and your partner have vastly different spending habits and you don't have a system in place to manage the difference, it's likely there will be conflicts in other areas of life as well.”
But even more important is having an understanding of money for yourself— whether you're in a relationship or not. And even though someone might be financially savvy single, it doesn't mean they will be when they're dating. I've had a lot of female friends who worked effing hard to get good careers and a bit of savings under their belt, only to hand over some of their financial autonomy and independence when getting into a relationship. You need to keep your financial awareness even when you're with someone — and, in some cases, have even more because entangling your finances with someone else's can be a tricky business. You need to know how to balance your shared needs with your personal financial security.
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So here's what every woman in a relationship should know:
If you're in a different financial situation than your partner, it may be that you don't feel like you can start making steps to secure yourself — especially if you're a woman. But that's so not the case.
"... if there's one thing I'd like women in their 20s to know about money, it's that time's are changing and you can now find dedicated resources specifically targeted to women." Malani tells Bustle. "One such example is Ellevest, a fabulous company that caters toward helping women invest. While our firm, Stash Wealth, doesn't predominantly focus on women (we focus on young people in their 20s and 30s), the greater majority of our client base is women in their 20s. All of them are of a similar mindset — that they do not need to wait for their future partner to start planning for their future. "
Don't wait. If you're in a position to get your sh*t together, just do it.
Your career is just as important as anyone else's — and your finances should be treated accordingly. When looking at career paths, saving, and financial contributions, it should be based on a holistic assessment of where you both are. Not your genders.
"Everyone should at least have an emergency savings account," Maggie Germano, certified financial education instructor and financial coach for women, tells Bustle. "This account is there to protect you when an emergency arises, like losing your job, getting sick, etc. Experts say everyone should have three to 12 months' worth of expenses saved in their emergency savings account."
But they're also important if you're in a relationship, to keep you from becoming financially dependent and, ultimately, stuck in an unhappy relationship. That sounds extreme, right? But 19 percent of respondents in a UK study said they had stayed in a bad relationship because of money. Don't get yourself into that situation if you can help it.
Learn how to talk about it — and learn early. "Money is the number one thing that couples fight about," Emily Bouchard, a certified money coach, tells Bustle. If you can have an open dialogue about not just your financial situation, but your attitudes toward money, early in the relationship then it can prevent some big stresses later on. And at some point, like when it comes to discussing a prenup, it will be really, really important.
This is a big one. Between student loan debt, credit card debt, medical bills— there are a lot of debts that can come up. And you need to know what's going on before your tie yourself to someone financially. “Money is a major cause of anxiety in relationships,” New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. “People are not usually honest about money — until there is a problem. My partner and I have been very open about our respective student loan debts and repayment plans, to try to avoid any nasty surprises.
A lot of people think being in a relationship brings financial security, but actually, it can make things more complicated. You're responsible for your own financial autonomy and security, so make sure you're taking the necessary steps.
Check out the “Get Money” stream in the Bustle App for more tips and tricks on how to save and spend your money.