There are enough blogs out there, looking at ways a woman can save money throughout her lifetime. They’re important contributions, but often don’t paint a picture of the bigger issues confronting a woman over her financial lifetime. Financial issues for women are not just about spending less at Coles every weekend (absolutely imperative though it is) or spending less on shopping (an urban myth it turns out, men spend the same amount, just on different items). There are wider, structural issues facing women, many of which result in issues when women retire. Here are 5 steps to take to set up your financial future.
There are several reasons women get paid less at work. One. Women often work in industries that are undervalued in society. Childcare, nursing etc. Two. Even when in the same industries as men, women can still receive less pay, which is certainly something we should all be up in arms about. Three, we negotiate less. Research shows men are more likely to walk into their boss’ office and demand a raise. Or some benefits. Or extra super as part of a package. If we want to start earning the right amount, we need to campaign for it on a societal level and ask for it on a personal level. It’s time to be tough. If we’re indispensable to a business, we should be paid for it.
Until the day that society acknowledges (and paid parental leave was a step in that direction), that women lose earnings and retirement savings due to time spent out of the workforce, often raising children, we need to take steps to protect ourselves. Contribute to your super. If you’ve had kids or intend to, calculate how much time you’ll be out of the workforce, and the super you will lose in that time. Then save it, and contribute it if possible. Or contribute over the amount. Retired women live longer and on less, and we should be doing as much as possible to ensure it doesn’t happen to us.
Women are also less likely to invest and, when they do, often they’re in lower risk asset classes. You don’t need to be a hard-edged trader. Maybe it won’t be for you. But get informed. Try out the commsec demos on investment- they’re short and informative. Rent a book, read the business pages.
If partnered, it’s important that both you and your partner are involved in financial decisions and financial management. It’s not just an issue of control, it’s about everyone staying informed. Money is a major reason for relationship breakdown and it’s important that you’re both in it together. On a side note, a lot of experts caution about taking on a partner’s debt when you get married. Why not wait till the debt is cleared? It’s tempting, you’re in love and want to help out but waiting until you’re both debt free to tie the knot is not a bad idea.
Get Outrageous And Set Goals
Sit down and work out what you want. Aim high. Aim impossible and make it possible. My goals as a woman? I want to be financially independent. I want to be financially independent and comfortable my whole life, right through retirement. I want a low level of debt, my own house, and a regular investment plan. In my early twenties, I am going to do everything in my power to ensure that happens, whether or not I have a life partner, years out of the workforce, or a lower income due to my industry. What do you want?