Above: Two Women on a Boat. Artist Suzuki Harunobu (Japanese, 1725–1770). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
More than once, I have gotten a few head bumps with Cutie about why I care so much about money. It is not about greed, I countered. But it doesn’t help that I did study Business for 5 years and used that knowledge professionally and to manage our personal finances (so far, so good!). I consider the gain of knowledge successful because it has helped aid in our survival in a industrialized society. However, such successes are short lived because like farming crops, there will be times of harvest and times of drought. This is why I care about money: to survive the droughts.
Some of my single friends have told me how lucky I am to be married because I have someone who will financially have my back in case I lost my job or some catastrophic economic event that would occur. Their views are in hindsight: they don’t realize that all married women at some point or another, will end up living without their husbands because they mostly outlive them or divorce them. They think about the times of harvest but not the times of drought, when you’ve only planned for 20 years of retirement but end up outliving that by more than 20 years because well because nature hates us.
I have seen first hand the family history: all of the women of my family outlived their husbands and once they have became widows, they have scrambled for low paying work because they didn’t qualify (experience or education wise) for decent paying ones. Or found themselves penalized for being out of the job market for too long because of their child-raising and family obligations so they try to seek support from their grown children or from the government in the form of welfare or Social Security payments. Some got lucky when their children were able to help, some weren’t and were forced to sell their houses and move into public housing. I don’t want to share such fates. That is why I go to school and switched to a hard field (Computer Science).
In honor of International Women’s Day, we should all celebrate and acknowledge that as women we have many gifts but we also have a major drawback: the longer we live, the more we have to prepare for that long life. We women have to acknowledge that if there are gains in science that will allow us to live longer (men and women alike), we women will more likely out live men even more and with that brings the necessity to plan ahead. And planning ahead includes financial literacy, continuous education and continuous participation in the workforce. Because the awful truth is that we are all in the same boat in life and we women will be the ones left sailing after the crew has passed on.