There’s good reason to believe women are bearing the greater share of health burdens, too because so many have taken the lead in managing household finances.
Although women have always controlled aspects of family finances, they are forefront more than ever before. Women are also earning more, holding an increasing share of jobs and living longer. This relatively “new” reality brings to light some fundamental differences in the approaches men and women take to financial adversity.
Women and men are simply different, from their brains to their emotions to why and how they relate. For women, financial planning is inclusive, focused on building and maintaining the family, community and even beyond, well into the future. Men, meanwhile, tend to focus less on relationships and more on shorter-term transactions.
In the face of considerable stress, men release higher doses of adrenaline, activating a “fight or flight” response, while women produce higher levels of oxytocin, activating a “tend and befriend” response — that’s the new stress paradigm for women other than the old “fight, flight or freeze” options. The model won’t replace fight-or-flight but rather, adds another dimension to the stress-response arsenal, reveals University of California, Los Angeles, psychologist Shelley Taylor, PhD, who, along with five colleagues, developed the model3.
The Women Under Pressure1 white paper summarizes 3 key strategies that will help women take a more intentional, less haphazard approach to pressure:
1. Leverage their brain based strengths of decision making under pressure. (To learn more, read a book called The Brain That Changes Itself 4.)
2. See pressure as an opportunity rather than a crisis or threat.
3. And lastly, build confidence. Success breeds success.
3 questions that provide a strong starting place for taking control of your financial life are:
1. What are my goals now and in the future?
This may take some time, and if you’re married, try this exercise out with pen and paper on your own and then get the feedback of your spouse. Are you both on the same page or do you have widely varying long and short term desires? Do you intend on transitioning from your current career to opening your own business? Perhaps you’d also like to take a sabbatical or finish your PhD?
2. Examine all of those dreams and divide a sheet of paper into needs and wants.
Then, figure out what are your top 3 and assign completion dates to each. At this stage, if you’re in a relationship, take time to examine your list and that of your spouses’. Are there conflicts? Where are you on the same page? Do your time horizons align?
3. How are you going to get there?
The first two might take some time, so don’t rush them — you may need to revisit this exercise a few times over a month or two. And if you get stuck, the third strategy is to get some help on your side. A financial professional can help you crunch the numbers and set a path to get you where you want to go and within the time you’ve determined is ideal.