CFO of the Household

CFO of the Household –  A Job with Limitless Growth and Opportunity


By Kara Stefan

kara_stefanWho 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.

Moms Rule
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 household CFO:

Position: MOM

  • 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 know anything.”
  • 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 project.
  • 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 management expertise:

  1. Identify any fears and concerns you have about handling and managing your finances.
  2. Identify how money is spent in your household by keeping a log for a month or two.
  3. Take advantage of the Internet to learn about topics such as investing and credit management.
  4. Assess your current financial situation by listing all income, assets, equity, fixed/flexible expenses, and discretionary income.
  5. Identify your financial goals and create a written plan for college, family, and retirement.
  6. Determine the types of investments most appropriate for your current situation and goals.
  7. Determine how much money you can save and invest monthly.
  8. Refer to experts, including financial planners and Web sites that offer sound advice.
  9. Create a realistic financial plan.
  10. Actively follow your plan, but allow for mistakes you’ll inevitably make in the process and learn from them.