CFO of the Household
A Job with Limitless Growth and Opportunity
By Kara Stefan
thinks the average American woman is the chief financial officer
of her household? The auto industry for starters. According
to J.D. Powers and Associates, women make more than half the
car buying decisions in the U.S.
And the Recording Industry Association of America weighs in
with this statistic: women account for more than half the
music sales in the country. There's more: women comprise 44%
of motorcycle owners, 51% of convertible owners, and 48% of
truck or SUV owners. Guess it's no longer a man's world.
What this proves is that women, traditionally the purveyors
of clothes, cosmetics, and groceries, have now taken the reins
when it comes to nearly all of the purchasing decisions in
most households. Not only that, but 80% of women will be responsible
for their own finances at some point in their lives, says
Mary Farrell, managing director of Paine Webber and author
of Mary Farrell's Beyond the Basics.
The Survey Says
In May of this year, research from the Wingspan Bank Financial
Index confirmed that women, on average, hold the primary responsibility
for managing the majority of financial activities for their
households. In fact, 83 million women are responsible for
creating their household budgets, managing the checking account,
and reviewing and paying bills.
Now if that doesn't qualify you for a CFO title, I don't
know what does. So whether you're a business owner (38% of
all firms in the U.S. are women-owned), or a soccer mom whose
days are filled with carpools and home-baked cookies, you
have the same genetic make-up that empowers you to learn,
manage, and excel at finances.
It may be particularly intimidating for stay-at-home moms
to serve as the financial taskmaster of the house. After all,
it's your spouse who's bringing home the dough.
However, a study conducted by Edelman Financial Services
concluded that moms are worth more than $570,000 per year
in today's job market--a decent salary for any CFO.
Says Chairman Ric Edelman, "Since a mother wears many hats
and is on duty 24-hours a day, we decided that the typical
mother deserves a full-time yearly salary for 17 different
occupational positions"--ranging from executive chef and animal
caretaker to computer systems analyst and property manager.
Just in case you still doubt your ability to manage money
effectively, rest assured it's not as hard as the myriad tasks
you juggle each day. For example, check out the following
"job" qualifications for being a Mom, as compiled by a fellow
- Must reconcile petty cash disbursements and be proficient
in managing budgets and resources fairly unless you want
to hear "He got more than me!" for the rest of your life.
- Must have strong skills in negotiating, conflict resolution,
and crisis management.
- Must be willing to withstand criticism, such as "You don't
- Must be able to think out of the box but not lose track
of the box because you most likely will need it for a school
- Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars, and coordinate
production of multiple homework projects.
- Must be willing to be indispensable one minute and an
embarrassment the next.
- Must possess a highly energetic, entrepreneurial spirit,
because fund-raiser will be your middle name.
- Must have a diverse knowledge base in order to answer
questions such as "What makes the wind move?" or "Why can't
they just go in and shoot Saddam Hussein?" on the fly.
Transitioning Job Experience
Now that we know women are innately qualified to handle finances,
here are several tips from financial expert and author Dr.
Judith Briles on how to transition those skills into money
- Identify any fears and concerns you have about handling
and managing your finances.
- Identify how money is spent in your household by keeping
a log for a month or two.
- Take advantage of the Internet to learn about topics such
as investing and credit management.
- Assess your current financial situation by listing all
income, assets, equity, fixed/flexible expenses, and discretionary
- Identify your financial goals and create a written plan
for college, family, and retirement.
- Determine the types of investments most appropriate for
your current situation and goals.
- Determine how much money you can save and invest monthly.
- Refer to experts, including financial planners and Web
sites that offer sound advice.
- Create a realistic financial plan.
- Actively follow your plan, but allow for mistakes you'll
inevitably make in the process and learn from them.