I always remember watching an old Rock Hudson and Doris Day movie, and Rock came home one day to announce to his movie wife, Doris Day, start packing — he’d just bought a new house and they were moving. It was all news to her.
And she batted her eyes, smiled, gave him a kiss and said “that’s fantastic, honey”. And I thought, oh, how far removed Hollywood could be from reality. I tried something similar before my wife and I were married nearly 40 years ago. I don’t think I actually bought our first house — I didn’t have any money for the down payment — but I announced to her that I had found us our first home, and perhaps had made an offer. Initially, it didn’t go over so well — leaving her out of the process. Ultimately (thank God) it turned out to be a good decision, but let’s just say I didn’t do it again.
For some reason that experience came to mind recently as Gwen Paddock, national manager, agribusiness with the Royal Bank told a packed room of 375 farm/ag industry women in Calgary they need to be involved in their own personal and farm business finances.
Paddock, who was raised on a family-run cow-calf operation near Guelph, Ont. said in her schoolgirl dreams she planned to marry a man “with land, cows and quota.” In fact, she married an electrician and that turned out well, too.
But she has learned through her 29-year career with the bank it is important for farm women to play an equal and active part in understanding their own personal and farm business finances.
She urged women to become financially literate. And the four basic pillars of that literacy are:
– Know how to make it
– Know how to manage it
– Know how to invest it
– Know how to donate it to help others
Paddock, speaking at the Advancing Women –Life Skills for Women conference, urged farm couples to develop a financial plan to help set goals for today and near future, but also for retirement. “Women look at money and financial matters differently than men,” she said. “Women need to learn how to manage money. A solid financial plan leads to an improved sense of security, provides more retirement options and makes dealing with the challenges and changes that come along in life, easier to manage.”
Two other facts of life, which underscore the importance of financial literacy — divorce often leaves women at a financial disadvantage; and statistics show women tend to live longer than men. Better understanding and more involvement in personal and business finances help women deal with these realities if they occur.
As a one-time member of 4-H in her farm days, Paddock says the 4-H motto applies with finances – if you don’t understand finances and investments then learn to do by doing. She herself was involved with a small investment club of women “Wise Women of Wealth”, who began working with penny stocks so they could learn the investment business.
She urged farmwomen to observe some guidelines in managing finances. The key messages there:
- Develop a plan and budget
- Beware of credit cards; they can lead to debt problems.
- Plan to save 10% of income in a savings account or investments
- Remove temptation — accept the fact you can’t have everything
- Live below your means, but within your needs.
And in developing a financial plan the key elements there include:
- Assess your current situation
- Set goals
- Get advice from a financial planner
- Develop the actual plan
- Execute the plan
- Review the plan on a regular basis — keep it fluid. Situations and needs change.
Paddock says for their own sense of security women should make sure they establish their own personal credit rating. Being part of the farm business doesn’t automatically provide a woman with credit history. While they need to manage credit wisely, obtain a credit card, or other type of credit in their own name to establish a personal credit rating.
She urged farmwomen to be interested and be involved. The two important steps — become financially literate, and have a plan.
Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]