TELL ME SOMETHING GIRL... ARE YOU HAPPY IN THIS MODERN FINANCE WORLD?
Guest article by Marie Mortimer, Managing Director of Loans.com.au
Finance sounds boring… I’ll put it out there, it isn’t a particularly sexy word.
The investorpedia.com definition of finance:
“Finance is a broad term that describes activities associated with banking, leverage or debt, credit, capital markets, money, and investments.
Basically, finance represents money management and the process of acquiring needed funds.”
Meh – boring! And I have a finance degree, I should know!
When you talk finance, it can always seem to be a very masculine word. You think of the powerhouse investment banks around the world with their men in suits on their flip phones buying and selling money. Furthermore, when it comes to the personal finances, historically in society it has always been the 'man’s job' to provide for his family, so finance was left to the man of the house to sort out.
So, as well as being ‘boring’ it’s historically always been a job for the boys, both at work and at home. But I’ll let you in on a secret...
Finance isn’t just for boys.
We live in a society where diversity has never been so important. Women are on the right track working towards parity in the workplace (albeit not quite there yet), but what about parity and equality when it comes to your relationship at home, and particularly your finances?
The knock-on effect of gender equality in the workforce has meant a typical household is now living off two incomes. We need those incomes to pay for our mortgages and provide for our family. This shift has led to parity when it comes to financial decisions at home.
In my company, loans.com.au, I had a chat to our awesome (and fearless woman) team leader Sam, to get a feel on who she is having the conversations with. “It used to be a lot more divided than it seems these days. That could be a result of changing times I'd like to think, compared to my broker days long ago. It used to be greater percentage of men calling about their home loan, these days I'd say greater towards the woman, though I’d suggest it’s pretty close 40/60.”
So, in the lending space, we are seeing a growing equal split of who applies for a loan – there are more and more women starting the conversation with us on behalf of their family. It isn’t just the male’s role to sort out the family finances anymore.
If you are in a relationship and are worried about your finances, I’ve put some tips together for how you can yourself up to speed, so you can be in a partnership when it comes to financial decisions.
Learn the Basics
You don’t have time to do a diploma in financial planning? No worries - Google it!
There is so much information online about personal finances and money, that if you are looking at how to save money or how to get a loan, you will find it. The Australian government has invested heavily in financial literacy programs online, and a good place to start is the Money Smart website by ASIC. There is a lot of information on there as well as plenty of handy calculators.
Likewise, there are plenty of books written about money that talks through all the jargon and tips and tricks for finance.
If you want to get more educated, why not look up an online course or try your local TAFE, there’s usually always a basic finance course available.
And I wasn’t joking about the Diploma in Financial Planning. If you are interested in finance, even if you don’t want a career in it, it doesn’t hurt to do the study, because who wouldn’t benefit from learning something new!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Don’t let people talk to you and jargon and get away with it!
If you are talking to a professional about finance, they can sometimes talk in jargon and acronyms - it’s a bad habit us finance types have! So, if you don’t know your LVR from your ROE, don’t stand there and smile politely. Ask and ask until it makes sense. By being inquisitive, the person explaining will quickly start talking to you like you are a human and not a robot.
Understand what you are signing
This is something that we see time and time again in the media – Headline: “Woman loses everything because she signed a legal agreement and didn’t know what it meant.” If you are given a big contract, don’t skim read it and sign at the bottom. You need to understand what you are signing and what your rights are if something goes wrong.
If a contract is all legal jargon for you and you are signing up to something like a loan for hundreds and thousands of dollars, speak to a professional and get advice. You need to know all about the legal agreement you are entering, the risks for you, and what can possibly happen if it all goes wrong. Don’t just sign something blindly because your partner tells you to do it. It could end in pain down the track, especially if something happens to your partner or the relationship breaks down.
Finally, make sure you talk to each other about money
You are in a relationship with somebody, don’t let money be a taboo subject. Some people get funny when they talk to their partner about their finances. As well as being in a romantic relationship, you are in a financial relationship, so don’t be afraid to be open to each other when it comes to the topic of money. If you are upfront with your goals and have a plan of how you will work together to get there, your relationship will be better for it.
Finance can be interesting once you learn more about it, and it is empowering for women to be making financial decisions for their household. It’s becoming more common for women to take the lead when it comes to money as we shift towards a more equal future.
Marie Mortimer, Managing Director of loans.com.au, one of Australia’s leading online non-bank lenders. Since launching loans.com.au in 2011, loans.com.au has grown to have $6 billion in home loans under management. Marie is extremely passionate about improving financial literacy for all Australians and hope to help minimise the financial impact that domestic and family violence can have on everyday families. When she isn’t at work, Marie loves to spend time with her husband and two young children.