It’s crazy to imagine today, but many women up to the 1960s weren’t permitted to have their own bank accounts or credit cards. Their own bank accounts! Thankfully we haven’t lived that reality since 1974’s Equal Credit Opportunity Act. But we as women still face roadblocks to financial wellness, mainly because women still experience on average 17 percent gap in pay with men.
Women’s History Month is a good time to remember how far we women have come, and how far we still have to go when it comes to managing our money. While lobbying for systemic changes are important, there are many ways we can directly control our own finances.
Don’t put off making a financial plan
With zeal, I’m excited to see more and more women today earn their advanced degrees and I’m enjoying watching the women I know climb the leadership ladder! Happily, more and more women are earning higher degrees and moving into the C suite. This means more of us are making more money but that oftentimes comes with juggling more responsibilities and putting off our financial plans.
- Talk with a financial planner. When I have an issue with my kitchen drain, I don’t call my best friend to fix it. I call a plumber. It’s the same thing when it comes to managing my money. Call on an expert financial adviser to help you determine the financial plan that works for your goals.
- You can never have too many savings accounts. I am a big believer in having specific savings accounts for different goals, especially for women pulled into so many different directions. You can have up to nine savings accounts with SAFE at no charge. Most goals cost money. You want to make sure you are saving for them, whether it’s an emergency savings account or a vacation fund.
- Identify your financial plan. Am I looking to better manage my money? Am I looking to get out of debt? Do I want to invest more? Figure out your short- and long-term goals and make plans to crush them.
- Plan for your retirement. On average women have $23,000 saved for retirement, compared to men who have $76,000 in their retirement accounts. Take advantage of employer retirement plans like 401(k)s and save enough to meet any employer matches. If your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan, you can set up you own IRA and have money directly deposited into it for easy savings!
Be sure to live within your means
Money is required in every single element of our life. We want to make sure we are being smart when we use that money. That starts with living within our means. A great way to ensure you are living within your means is to live beneath your means. If you are living below your means you will be more likely to have the money you need when you need it.
A lot of women I know aren’t very familiar with lending. They don’t know the differences between the different loans that are out there. I’m not saying go out there and get a loan just to get a loan. But if you need one, understand that they are out there when you need them.
- We have personal loans at SAFE. These personal loans can be used for anything – let’s say you need $2,000 to pay to relocate, to replace broken appliances, or pay unexpected car costs. These non-collateral loans are available and can be paid back monthly.
- SAFE also offers revolving lines of credit and secured loans that can be a useful option.
Roadblocks to financial security
Women may face many roadblocks when it comes to managing their money.
- Be aware of the “Pink Tax.” The “pink tax” is when manufactures and service providers charge extra for goods and services targeted toward women. It’s estimated women pay $100,000 more in our lifetime for things like personal care (13 percent more), haircuts (53 percent more) and dry cleaning (73 percent more), according to Payscale. Ditch the pricey pink razor for the gray one marketed to men. Skip the pretty lotion bottle and look for the plain one. Make sure that dry cleaner is following the state’s pricing rules.
- Confidence can be a roadblock for many women when it comes to their finances. According to Payscale, 60 percent of men feel confident in their knowledge of financial services, while only 40 percent of women said they feel confident managing their money. And 52 percent of women aren’t sure of themselves when managing investments. Don’t be afraid to receive financial advice and to follow through.
- The wage gap is a real thing. Compared to every dollar a man makes, white women earn 79 cents, Black women earn 64 cents, and Latina women earn, 57 cents on the dollar, according to Payscale.
- Ask for raises regularly and negotiate your salary. We can close our own personal pay gap by empowering ourselves to ask for and find ways to earn more money. If able, don’t stay in those jobs that don’t pay you enough to achieve your goals or pay for what you need and will need in life.
Reduce financial stress
Make sure you are using your money in healthy ways.
- Be mindful of what and where you are spending your money. Make sure you aren’t spending too much money in only one area of your life.
- Avoid “shopping therapy” sprees in stores and online. Find more healthy ways to manage stress.
- Take the time to manage your money. Don’t procrastinate until it’s too late and it becomes stressful.
- Maintain heathy spending habits.
Finally, let’s remember women today wear many hats when managing our lives and our money. We just need to make sure at least one of those hats flaunts financial flair.
Find out about upcoming SAFE Financial Wellness webinars here.
Get more tips from SAFE on Financial Wellness here.