Women & Money: Lessons From the Financially Independent

Living below your means is a tried and true method to gain�and keep�your wealth

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Financial independence can sometimes be an illusive concept. So I think it is always helpful to take a peek into the mindset of those who have achieved it. Take a look at these comments from a survey about two years ago by Wilmington Trust and Camden Research: “I live below my means. … I live very modestly”; “It’s the same house that I raised my children in since elementary school”;  “I live simply and really focus on saving.”

If these comments sound like something you might be aspiring to because of the recent recession, you might be surprised to know that the women who responded to this survey have a minimum net worth of $25 million, so they can well afford to live richly even during a recession.

But according to the study, there is a wealth paradigm shift going on and affluent women who once took on the traditional woman’s role are now taking control of their futures. The study concludes that they are “focused not on viewing their wealth as a measure of success but as a source of empowerment to achieve their goals and independence.” And this view was shared among women who worked for their money as well as those who inherited it.

Here are some other key findings of the study:

— Women are seeking a holistic approach to wealth management, which includes establishing family governance structures and fostering dialogue, particularly with their children, about wealth management.

— Even though the women surveyed said they were raised in households with traditional views of a woman’s role, they are emerging with a commitment to develop their professional skills and to be viewed in their families and communities as having equal opportunities and status as men.

— Women are stepping up to new levels of involvement in the management of their families’ wealth, with 88% of those in the study playing a high-to-moderate role in the management of family assets. They are meeting regularly with advisors, reading investment performance reports, and trying to compile a complete wealth picture.

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  • Lisa

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    • Financial Peace University

  • lzug

    I think the title of this article employs a very loose definition of the phrase “financially independent” since the majority of the women surveyed in the study either inherited their wealth from their families or married into their wealth. The last category in the study, “Wealth Creators” is dubious, because it seems to include women who run already-established and successful family businesses.

    Living below one’s means is an established mode of generating an sustaining wealth for first-generation, patriarchal families. However, that level of frugality has been shown to dissipate after that first generation. Sure enough, this survey seems to support the fact that the same rule applies for women — the Wealth Building category seems to be more frugal and have a better understanding of money as compared to women who inherit. The stand-out gender difference may well be what the survey describes as a commitment to philanthropy in subsequent generations, but I don’t know what those statistics are for men who inherit wealth.

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