This is not breaking news: African-American women are usually the primary decision-makers and chief breadwinners for our families; we must make the decisions for all family consumption from shopping for food, clothing, and shelter as well as well-being (healthcare), transportation and recreation. We, however, in many cases need more support and financial literacy to help us make well-informed financial decisions for our families.
Last week, I was reading up on some research for an article that I am writing about black women, poverty, spending behaviors, and retirement and here are some statistics that you NEED to take heed to.
In 2008, The ING Foundation commissioned a survey among African-American women who were pre-retirement, at least 18 years of age, and with household incomes of at least $25,000. The survey results found that 68% of the women surveyed said they buy what they want whether the economy is good or dreadful and that nearly 70% did not have professional financial advisors, despite being concerned more about their finances than about their health, appearance, job, or relationships. A 2008 report conducted by Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) also found that the poverty rate for single Black women over age 65 is 38.5 percent, over twice the rate of White women, 16.7%. Moreover, fifty-nine percent of unmarried black women rely on Social Security as their primary source of income retirement, even though Social Security was not designed to be a retiree’s sole source of support, but instead was meant to provide only a “minimum of protection.”
Statistics Don’t Tell the Whole Story
When I read the first set of statistics, I started to shake my head in frustration about the spending habits and the lack of planning that seemed to be keeping black women disproportionately represented among the brackets of poverty. But then I got to thinking some more about the why of the spending habits.
Could it be that part of the reason that black women spend as they please because they are strapped with the responsibility of taking care of everyone and their grandmother, which leads them to cope with stress through shopping, thus making their financial future shaky?
This is not a justification for black women to do as they please when it comes to spending and to turn a blind eye to poor financial behavior when you see it. Rather, I am saying that the tone and intention of any financial conversation that involves a “I am every woman” black woman is more productive when it comes from a place of support and deep understanding, not judgment and criticism.