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‘Taboo topic’ Aussie mums urged to discuss this Mother’s Day

·4-min read
Mother multi-tasking with infant daughter in home office
Mums are being urged to invest in their own financial literacy (Source: Getty)

Just how much money does a woman sacrifice when she becomes a mother?

Society sees a mother's value through largely intangible measurements; love, time, care, support. We understand mothers give, but what is taken from them as a result? Financially, it's not positive.

Primary carers are lobbed with a juggle that often sees children put first and finances put last.

Irrespective of a home's income, primary carers by definition are generally not primary earners and the consequences of limited earning power can last a long time.

This is not just about having money and saving, this is actively investing into the future and understanding the options that are available to grow money, well beyond the rate of inflation.

These are lessons for everyone, and all ages. And, the best time to start is now.

Felicity Cooper, Director of Cooper Wealth Management says it's important for women to feel comfortable taking control of their own financial situations.

"Somewhere along the way, like 90 per cent of women, you are going to be solely responsible for your money. Either it is at the beginning of life, before you have a partner or somewhere along the way we get divorced or separated or at the end because we live longer."

A loss of income has lifelong consequences

As education is intrinsically linked to financial empowerment, a primary carer faces an uphill battle to crack into and master financial fitness.

Mothers are their children's greatest teachers, but between in and out of home duties, time for self-education is tough.

Just as all fitness, it should be a daily practice. If you neglect your health, physical or financial, the results can be devastating.

Low superannuation and financial risk in older age is a key example of the end result when a primary carer steps away from the workforce.

Cooper says a big barrier to financial confidence is that women don't talk about money as much as men do.

"It's a taboo topic. We don't really talk about sex, politics or money, it's just rude."

But without the conversation, there is no change.

"If you put a group of men on a golf course they will usually talk about money, but women at a coffee or lunch won't talk about money. It's really sad but studies have shown 61 per cent of women would prefer to speak about their own death in explicit detail than talk about money. Eighty per cent of women don't want to go and see a financial planner, yet only 60 per cent of women don't want to go to the dentist."

Change starts small and must be consistent

To make any change, you need to know what you're meant to be changing.

Cooper says the feedback she's received is that women don't even know where to start, don't know what questions to ask and don't know if they'll have the answers to the questions that will be asked.

She suggests resources like the wInvest 16-part free video course.

Like any new venture even starting can be overwhelming, and whenever faced with a big job, it's important to break it down into small steps.

"Mothers are the most important role model for children. Children learn by watching how their mother behaves. If she budgets carefully and watches what she spends, her children will too. If she saves, they will become savers, " said Australian Shareholders’ Association (ASA) CEO John Cowling.

Cowling represents Australia's largest not-for profit shareholder organisation and has seen first hand the financial inequality between female and male investors. He believes this in an issue not just for mothers, but families.

"If mum invests... her children will grow up believing investing is a natural thing to do. So mothers investing not only provides them with a degree of financial independence but it instills in the next generation habits that will build the foundation for their financial independence too."

If you're worried about your financial future or want to ensure your children don't need to worry about theirs, start small.

Learn the lingo, instate a plan, get independent support.

All the answers are out there, it's time to start asking the questions.

Lelde Smits is director and financial empowerment advocate at the Australian Shareholders Association.