Mother’s Day arrives this year amid mounting financial difficulties for women and girls. COVID-19 has driven millions of women, particularly mothers of young children (opens in new tab), out of the workforce, leading to disproportionate female wealth loss and some of the highest unemployment rates for women (opens in new tab) seen in the 21st century. I’ve seen this firsthand in my work helping young people at Albert (opens in new tab), a personal finance app whose customers (which skew 20-something and female) can text me and the other Geniuses for financial guidance. Since the pandemic started, I’ve gotten frequent messages from young women who are navigating unemployment or underemployment while simultaneously struggling with credit card debt, student loans and everyday costs, such as rent and groceries.
Mother figures are often our first teachers; they’re the ones who set us up for success in school, friendships and our professional lives. Because this is my first Mother’s Day as an expectant parent, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the many life lessons my mother taught my sister and me, especially when it came to saving, spending and budgeting.
While it’s important to teach all children about money, I believe it’s especially critical to give our daughters the money skills and know-how they’ll need to overcome financial obstacles later in life. For every person with a young female in their lives, here are five reasons to remind you why every teen and pre-teen girl should be taught about personal finance, paired with actionable strategies to set them up for a financially healthy adulthood.
To learn the value of money
Learning the value of money as early as possible can help make sure that girls are set up for healthy financial habits later in life. I started learning about personal finance when I was 10 years old, thanks to my parents, who were both immigrants and had to learn all about personal finance on their own. They took a hands-on, “real world” approach to teaching my sister and me about how to manage our money (allowance) from our jobs (chores).
Have your daughter leverage the math skills she’s learning in school to make a monthly budget based on allowances, part-time jobs and goal purchases. There are several apps out there now that help kids get engaged and learn about money management — a few popular ones are Busy Kid (opens in new tab) and Savings Spree (opens in new tab). Investing or savings challenges, such as Animal Crossing’s Stalk Market (opens in new tab), can be another efficient way to practice these skills. Real-world activities can help pique her interest in personal finance early in life.
To nurture her independence
The reality is that 56% of married women (opens in new tab) rely on their husbands and partners to make major financial decisions, which can hurt them financially in the long run. After almost a decade in asset management and entertainment finance, I began hosting one-on-one coaching sessions for women who were going through life transitions, such as getting married and switching jobs, to help them overcome money stress and become financially independent. I worked with several professional, savvy women who were worse-off financially than they should have been because they deferred to their spouses on money matters. I wish these women had had the confidence to assert their independence when it came to personal finance, but independence isn’t something that just pops up in adulthood — it’s a learned behavior.
How do we teach teen and pre-teen girls to value their financial independence?
- If you’re a mom or female relative of a young girl, make sure that she sees you taking an active role in family finances alongside the men in your household.
- Empower her now to understand that women shouldn’t sit on the sidelines in these matters.
- Talk openly about money so she does the same with her friends and partner in the future.
If you teach her to understand personal finance and make her own decisions, she’ll keep that independence and confidence in adulthood.
To boost her STEM confidence
Girls outperform boys in school (opens in new tab), but they haven’t historically been encouraged to pursue careers in math and science as adults. There are many reasons for this, including gender discrimination in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, a lack of female mentors and role models in these fields, and a misogynistic culture that portrays math and science as inherently male expertises.
Many educational experts believe that the key to recruiting and retaining women and other groups underrepresented in STEM is to provide them with practical, real-world applications for math and science skills while they’re still girls. What’s more practical than money? I know from my personal experience that getting teen and pre-teen girls genuinely excited about saving, budgeting and investing can also increase their engagement in math and economics coursework.
To spark her interest in financial services careers
Financial services has long been a male-dominated field, but it doesn’t have to stay that way! Your pre-teen daughter could grow up to be a fintech data scientist, a trader, an investment banker, a financial analyst, a CFP® or an economist. It’s essential to plant the seeds of interest now so that she’ll take AP Economics later.
The first way that I learned about and became interested in investing was through a stock market investing game planned by my dad. He told my sister and me to pick a company that we liked, and then he explained that we could have ownership in that company by purchasing a share of stock. I wasn’t even in high school yet, but I was fascinated by how the prices of stocks were constantly changing throughout the day. I’ve been lucky enough to work at some of the top financial services firms in the world, and my dad’s stock market game really piqued my interest in investing.
To avoid mistakes as an adult
One of the most common financial struggles I’ve noticed in the women I advise is credit card debt. And because there are so many factors that put women at a disadvantage when it comes to money — like the wage gap and the pink tax — it typically takes them longer to pay off this debt. It doesn’t help that women tend to earn less money than men, and that we often save less, because we tend to incur higher expenses, especially health care expenses (opens in new tab). The system is rigged against women building savings and paying off debt, which is why it’s essential to give your daughters the skills they need to thrive in a gender-biased economy.
This Mother’s Day is like no other, and I urge you to prioritize the financial education of your daughter at this time — it’ll bring you closer together, and one day, she’ll thank you for it!
Trina Patel is a Financial Advice Manager at Albert, an app that simplifies your finances and provides financial advice. She has over 10 years of experience in the financial industry, ranging from private banking to running her own financial coaching business, and she is passionate about helping individuals reach their financial goals.
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