About five years ago, I had a powerful revelation that I call the Prince Charming Syndrome. Here’s what happened:
I vividly recall walking the halls of Western Michigan’s business school, thinking to myself, “One of these guys is probably going to be my husband someday.” I definitely planned to graduate from college and have a career, but I also figured I’d get married and have kids and that my career would take a backseat to being a mom. In the back of my mind, I thought that eventually I was going to get to decide whether I wanted to keep working.
As a result, I approached my career and financial decisions with a sense of carelessness, thinking that someday it wouldn’t really matter because “someone else” would ultimately take care of my future. I never really thought much about how that would work, but I spent the majority of my twenties with this subconscious mindset, wasting valuable time when I could have been saving more money or working toward a more fulfilling career.
Then one day it hit me: not only was I not going to find Prince Charming to take care of my every need, I actually didn’t want to. I wanted my own career and I definitely didn’t want to feel beholden to some guy for money. I think that many women end up with this revelation, in some form or another, but often after years of poor financial decisions and forming bad habits.
Guys seem to be programmed toward financial independence and responsibility from day one, but it often takes women many years to get there. It can be really scary to realize that we are ultimately the one responsible for saving enough money to take care of ourselves in retirement. The fact is most of us will be financially independent at some point in our lives, either due to death, divorce, or never having married.
If you are still in the throes of Prince Charming Syndrome, it’s time to wake up from the fairy tale and take responsibility for your money. Getting debt free and saving at least ten percent of your income are good first steps toward financial independence. Even if you do find your prince, having good money habits will only make you more charming!