Money Talk: Women and Finance
In mosaic law, in money matters women and men’s rights were pretty equal, also, in ancient Egypt women and men share the same rights and status, however these rights sadly disappeared with the different regimes that followed over the next many centuries. In fact it was it was only in the 20th Century that countries started to give women the right to vote and a number of milestones followed.
For example, in the UK in 1956 Civil Servants earned the right to equal pay. Until 1974 in the US banks required single widowed or divorced women to being a man along to co-sign any credit application, regardless of her income. In 1975 the UK sex discrimination act allowed women to open a bank account in her own name. In Ireland in 1976 women were allowed to own their own homes outright. In the US in 2014 nearly 2/3rds of minimum wage earners and women.
Traditionally, men went out to work, earned the money and paid the bills while the women stayed at home raising the children and looking after the home. Typically men would give their wives “housekeeping” for shopping and child related cost, but the husband normally made all of the financial decisions. However, at some stage in their lives 9/10 women will be the sole financial decision maker, either because they choose to live alone, divorce or death of a spouse which is why it is so important that women take control of their own finances.
Even without the gender pay gap, women generally earn less than men over their working life, they are more likely to have jobs with flexible hours, which generally are lower paid. Women are the ones that take maternity leave, they are also more likely to be the primary carer of their children, take time off if the children are sick and are also more likely to be the ones looking after elderly or sick parents.
Women also tend to lack confidence compared to men, often having been used to seeing the man dealing with the money when growing up.
In work situations women are more likely to undervalue themselves, men will apply for jobs if they have perhaps half of the skills advertised and will also ask for more than the advertised salary. Women are more likely to think they will need all of the skills advertised and are less likely to ask for more than the advertised salary.
So it’s no big surprise that women are more cautious when it comes to money.
There are a number of things women should look at to help them take control and manage their money.
- Learn to talk. 4/5 women avoid talking about money as it makes them feel uncomfortable. Learn to be comfortable talking about money – it’s good to talk, so talk to friends , the more you talk, the easier it becomes. Whether you are talking to a friend or a financial advisor, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable. Remember, when it comes to money there no such thing as a stupid question or a question that is too basic.
- Talk about money in relationships, money is the most common cause of arguments in relationship. Take charge of your own money, discuss and agree parameters before you move in together. Keep your own bank account. By all means have a joint account as well to pay joint bills etc. but always have your own account.
- Some rules for investing and planning for your future:
- You are never too young to start saving for your retirement, the longer you save the more time your money has to grow and the less you will need to pay each month. If you are considering alternatives to a pension, discuss with an expert and consider the possible downsides of the alternatives.
- Build up an emergency fund of around 6 months outgoings. Also, build a planned spending fund to pay for any bigger purchases in the next few years that won’t come from your income.
- Don’t use overdrafts or run up credit card debt, they are the most expensive way of borrowing money. Clear credit card spending monthly so that you don’t pay interest - if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.
- When it comes to longer term investing, e.g. children’s education, tax efficiency, succession tax planning etc, make sure you review your plans regularly. Sit down with your financial advisor at least once a year plus at life events such as marriage, starting a family, moving home, divorce.
- Consider risk – women are more risk averse than men, possibly through lack of experience or understanding. Men are more likely to go for get rich quick schemes, very high risk which is not necessarily a good thing. The more risk taken, the greater the potential gain, however, conversely also the greater potential for loss.
- If you want your money to grow ahead of inflation you need to consider taking some risk, to a level that you are comfortable with. When investing money and considering your level of risk, there are a number of thing to take into account: how long are you going to be investing for; are you going to be investing a lump sum or saving monthly; liquidity; currency fluctuations; inflation; tax efficiency; what is the purpose of your investment. You also need to consider types of assets: cash; equities; bonds; commodities; property.
The most important thing is that you feel comfortable, take advice and do what is right for you, remember, everyone is different.
This article is for information only and should not be considered as advice. 26/11/17.
Lorraine Chekir DipFA is a financial planner to the English speaking expatriate community. She is based on the Cote D’Azur and is a member the Spectrum IFA Group. She can be reached on +33 642432054, by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or www.spectrum-ifa.com/lorraine-chekir
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