How women can reclaim their financial power
Five talking points to consider to help you on your journey
Stereotypes - like women are spenders not savers; they’re not worthy of high-paying jobs; and they can't take care of themselves without the help of a man - need to be debugged.
With all the negative things happening in the world right now, it’s encouraging to see one positive development: women have broken the silence and are starting to stand up for themselves – in business, civil society and politics.
But stereotypes still persist, like women are spenders not savers; they’re not worthy of high-paying jobs; and they can't take care of themselves financially without the help of a man.
This is of course nonsense. Women are entirely capable of doing anything, including taking control of their personal finances. The journey towards financial independence starts with identifying some of the issues we face as women, and having daily conversations about them. Here are five points to consider.
The gender pay gap
Globally, men tend to earn more than women in the same position – a gap made worse by the under-representation of women in senior positions. It might seem like a “soft” issue, but the pay gap skews the balance of power and leads to abuse at home and in the workplace.
Stand your ground and fight for what you deserve. Invest more time into your personal development, use online resources to study further, learn from other professionals and develop the skills to negotiate better pay for yourself.
If you have an entrepreneurial drive, consider starting your own business or side hustle.
Keep saving, even if you’re at home
Having children is a turning point for many women. You might want to pursue your career again after maternity leave, but there’s no shame in deciding to stay home and look after the needs of your family. In fact you’ll occupy the very important position of home executive.
Just because you’ll be dependent on your spouse’s income doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be involved with the family finances. Talk to your partner about your ambitions and your dreams for the family, like your retirement and your children’s education.
These are not easy conversations to have. A qualified financial planner will be able to give you objective advice and help you reach the goals you’ve set for yourself and your family.
Here’s to the single moms
Many women are single mothers, with a single income, and all the family responsibilities usually shared by two people. These women are superheroes.
Being a single mother does make it difficult to save or invest – you probably don’t even have time to think about saving or investing.
A credit card is a double-edged sword – you have cash at hand when you need it, but you have to be super careful not to overspend and fall into the debt trap.
Try not to overburden yourself with unnecessary credit. In other words, don’t use your card for random shopping. Rather limit your debt to a home- or education loan, both of which will be beneficial in the long run. A financial adviser can help you understand the different credit facilities and how to use them to your advantage.
Women live longer than men
According to research by the World Health Organisation, women will live on average six to eight years longer than men, partly due to biological factors but it also reflects behavioural differences – women generally live more moderately than men do, and take fewer risks.
So here’s the big question: Have you factored those extra years into your financial plan? Women need more retirement savings than men – are you contributing more to a pension fund to cater for this? Have you considered the financial implications should your partner pass away?
Long live the side hustle
Job security is a fantasy. The economy is at its worst right now: retrenchments, salary cuts and job losses are rife. Even if you have a job, turn your hobby or passion into a money-making side project using all the social networks at your disposal. If you have a diversified income, you’ll be better equipped to deal with a very uncertain future.
Who knows – maybe you’ll love your side hustle so much it could turn into your main job.
A financial adviser can help answer all the nitty gritty tax questions and maybe even give you that little nudge into the unknown to start something amazing.
At the end of the day, you have to be your own boss. If you can be financially independent as a woman, you’re one step closer to taking the power back.
- Tlholoe, a certified financial planner CFP®, is co-founder and wealth manager at Imvelo Wealth Solutions