“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” ― Maya Angelou
Here’s the thing. It might be 2023. We might have smart and successful women in leadership roles all over the country and world.
And yet…despite the significant strides made towards gender equality in recent years, women still face unique challenges when it comes to managing their finances.
Why? Let’s dive into some of these challenges. And I’ve got some tips to share on how women can take control of their finances, too.
The Gender Pay Gap:
One of the biggest challenges facing women when it comes to finances is the gender pay gap.
“Is this still a thing? Really?”
Yes. It is. Really.
Women, on average, still earn less than men for the same work. This can make it difficult for women to save for retirement, invest, or make significant purchases like a home or car.
Chat GPT’s answer to how women should fight this?
“To combat this, women should be proactive in negotiating their salaries, seeking out promotions, and advocating for equal pay. Additionally, women can look for side hustles or part-time work to supplement their income.”
Hmmm. It’s not great advice, is it? What it doesn’t take into consideration is the fact that women are still are facing a culture that doesn’t honor women’s approach to work. I see this in my own business almost every day.
I define a woman’s approach to work as a collaborative style where there is win/win environment. And as you’ve probably seen and read, many highly skilled women who are at the top of their fields leave organizations because the culture is not at all collaborative.
Obviously, equality pay is a problem, but another problem? An equal playing field where the patriarchal culture – ie., a culture of win/lose, mine over yours, etc., etc. – no longer is the norm.
The Cost of Caregiving:
Another challenge facing women is the cost of caregiving. Women often take on the responsibility of caring for children, elderly parents, or other family members, which can be both time-consuming and expensive.
Chat GPT’s answer when I asked for advice about this?
“To manage these costs, women should consider creating a budget that includes caregiving expenses and look for resources and support that can help them balance their caregiving responsibilities with their financial goals.”
You can budget and consider the cost, but, as an example consider the fact that on average childcare costs nearly $2,000 per month per child. If you’ve got two kids, that’s $48,000 every year.
When you look at the cost and consider what salary it would take to just cover the cost, budgeting is hardly the answer. And it’s certainly not the only answer.
Here is something real women and their partners need to consider when having discussions about caregiving responsibilities and finances.
- What is the opportunity cost of being out of the job market?
Promotions and higher pay because of those promotions, retirement savings, social security credits, more satisfying work and higher self-worth?
If you work with a financial advisor and a good financial planning software you can get to some answers by thinking through future pay, lost income, and the costs to your retirement. You cannot measure quality of life, children’s well-being, fulfillment of challenging and interesting work. It is a complex question with many variables. Budgeting alone won’t give you a meaningful answer.
Investing is an essential component of building long-term wealth, but women are often less likely to invest than men. This can be due to a lack of confidence or knowledge about investing.
Here’s another artificially generated response to this issue:
“However, it is crucial for women to overcome these barriers and begin investing as early as possible. Investing can help women build wealth, reach their financial goals, and provide financial security in the long term. Women should seek out resources such as books, podcasts, or financial advisors to learn more about investing and get started.”
Ah ha! Finally, some great advice. Of course it’s crucial for women to “overcome these barriers and begin investing as early as possible.”
And that’s not at all as easy as it sounds.
This is where working with a dedicated financial advisor can really help. Investing is not necessarily easy and there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to investing, either. Personalized approaches work the best.
Finally, retirement planning is an essential aspect of financial management; women often face unique challenges in this area.
Women tend to live longer than men, which means they need more savings to sustain their retirement. Here’s an interesting – and incredibly disheartening – perspective from my hometown newspaper.
Additionally, women may take time off from work to care for children or elderly relatives, which can impact their retirement savings.
So, how should women prepare for retirement?
Here’s an answer from Chat GPT:
“To prepare for retirement, women should start saving as early as possible, consider opening a retirement account such as an IRA or 401(k), and seek out resources or advice to ensure they are on track to meet their retirement goals.”
Again – how is this helpful?
To be even more specific, let’s break it down like this: Women are good at investing because they aren’t looking for the latest and greatest. In general, they aren’t drawn to catching the wave of the newest hot trends. They are patient.
From my experience working with my female clients, women generally make great investors; however, the vast majority of financial advisors are men. No wonder I hear from so many of my female clients that they just didn’t feel like they could offer their own opinions and ideas about their own investments. The very culture of our industry does not make us feel like we can be good at this.
Now, of course, this is a highly generalized statement! I see it, however, very often in my work for many women. So, how do we fix it?
First, women must believe that investing is something they can understand. For far too long the industry has made it seem like investing is too complex to understand; that just isn’t true. I firmly believe we can all understand the basics of investing with a little effort, by working with a good advisor who can make it understandable, and good books, podcasts, and articles.
Here’s chat GPT’s conclusion – and this, I agree with.
“In conclusion, managing finances can be challenging for anyone, but women face unique obstacles that require additional planning and preparation. By advocating for equal pay, managing caregiving costs, investing early, and preparing for retirement, women can take control of their finances and achieve their financial goals.”
Make this spring the spring you decide to achieve your financial goals. Let’s get started.