finance

Why is it, in 2016, women still think marrying rich is a suitable life plan?

I was at dinner last night with a group of uni friends. We religiously ‘do’ dinner once a month to catch up and share some banter over a few wines. At the moment we’re experiencing a lot of firsts. We’ve been out of uni for a year and we’re all beginning to find our first jobs, first salary, first glimpses into the ‘real world’.

We were discussing our careers, what we wanted to do with our careers, when one of them said something that made the table go silent.

“I’m only planning on working ‘til I’m thirty,” my friend who’s smart, charismatic and loves to watch re-runs of The West Wing said. “I’ll marry rich and become a stay-at-home mum.”

What shocked us was not her desire to become a stay-at-home mum, all the women at the table have discussed being a mum somewhere along the line and how we could balance this with a career and also being able to take time off, it was that my friend had decided, already, she was going to marry rich and this would be her only source of financial income.

She had decided, already, she was going to marry rich and this would be her only source of financial income. Image: iStock.

Gen Y’s get a lot of flak about being the ‘me’ generation. Yes, we can be selfish and desperate to take everything the world has to offer. We also have the largest rate of unemployment for university graduates in history and will be lucky if we can ever afford our own home, yet, what we do have are opportunities, especially for women. More than ever, women have the freedom to pick a career of their choice and pursue it. Our grandmothers didn’t have this luxury. They were generally pigeonholed into being either a teacher, nurse or secretary.

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Then why is it, in a culture filled with opportunities, do women aspire to marry a rich man?

In a way it feels rather archaic, relying on a man to support you financially. Let's have a look at the hypothetical's. What if said man, somewhere down the track turns out to be an asshole and leaves you for someone else? What if he suddenly passes away and you're left with teenagers to support and no income of your own (and he's secretly blown his wealth on online gambling)? What if the marriage lasts 72 days and you're left with nothing? What then?

Yes, Mariah Carey is marrying rich, but she is a multi-millionaire herself. Image: Getty.

Beyonce (and the rest of Destiny's Child) made a valid point in 2000, "Pay my own fun and I pay my own bills, always 50/50 in relationships." Yes, this point was made in a song, but 'Independant women' is still as relevant today as it was then. If, when looking for someone to spend the rest of our life with our main priority is how much money they earn, then we are setting ourselves up to be miserable.

Case in point, a friend's friend was a model in her 20's married rich and they settled in a lovely multi-million dollar house. They had kids, the marriage broke down, her mental health broke down with it and now the husband has claimed full custody of the kids. She never had any financial independence, her role was tied up entirely within the home and for the first few years a credit card with no limit was fantastic. Until he started cheating on her. Until he started using his knowledge of the financial world to ensure he ended up with the lion's share of their assets and savings. Until he started playing mind games with her. Until she broke down. Now, she has moved back into her parents home with no children and has no inkling of a financial income.

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This is not an isolated case. Take the former financial columnist who was 'left on the brink of homelessness' after losing a court battle to get more money from the man she divorced over 20 years ago. Or the woman who told This is Money she was "pretty much left with the clothes she was standing in". Or the one in three women who are unable to make any further savings after splitting.

You cannot rely on a man for financial income. Image: iStock.

In 2012 the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) found "divorced women with dependent children find it much harder to recover their income after divorce. And unless they find a new man and re-partner, the financial hit can last well into later life," the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

But that's the whole point, women cannot rely on a man's income to finance their life. They need an income, or even just a savings account of their own for if and, probably, when times get tough.

As my co-worker said, 'A man is not a plan'.

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