Amanda Steinberg is the founder and CEO of DailyWorth, an online community that helps women earn more, save more and spend smarter.
Somewhere between Cinderella and The Princess Bride, we were seduced into a princess fantasy. MBAs, law degrees and all, on some level, too many women still pine for rescue in some form.
Is this princess mentality, whether we’re conscious of it or not, a problem?
“Possibly,” says USA Today columnist Laura Vanderkam. Her recent op-ed called The Princess Problem,” suggests that our collective fondness for princesses could do more harm to our overall sense of security than to our self image. “Princesses lack what psychologists call an ‘internal locus of control,’” writes Vanderkam. “This is the belief that you are responsible for making your way in the world.”
Yes, we’re working, earning degrees and climbing the leadership ranks at a stunning pace. Women will outpace men as breadwinners in the next generation! Still, this princess-problem is negatively impacting our earning power, Vanderkam notes. She cites a study in which “more than 80% of women felt that their worth was determined by what their companies chose to pay them (e.g. it wasn’t their own responsibility to control their own worth), just as Cinderella is chosen by her prince.”
What are we, as a gender, really buying into as “ideal?” This whole princess-rescue-fantasy epidemic is further exacerbated by our relationship to money. About 50% of marriages will end in divorce, while 75% of women still delegate investing (read: FUTURE SECURITY) decisions to our husbands. “I don’t know where to start with investing” so many women say to me. By the year 2030, women will control two thirds of wealth in the U.S.. We must educate ourselves on what to do with so much wealth as it will increasingly become our responsibility.
Let me help you. To start saving for retirement, at the very least, open a Roth IRA with Fidelity or Schwab and move $1,000 into an index fund. Investing for your own future is exhilarating, I promise.
So, now that we’re past investing, can we get even more radical–more radical than women investing?
Here’s a question for you. How much should we worry about moms who choose to opt-out of work for years at a time, sacrificing their own earning power and self-sufficiency. Can any woman really afford to do that? Now, before the Park Slope mommy brigade comes after me with their Bugaboos, take a deep breath. Now almost 35 years old, I see what the flip-side looks like for too many women who don’t work. While a few I know feel secure, too many others are trapped in marriages they can’t afford to leave, trapped by bills they can’t afford to pay, and rejected by a workforce not interested in hiring women who have been out of the game for too long.
Dear manufacturers of the princess fantasy: We need an upgrade.