Women & Money
How women think about money
The way women think about money is changing. More Gen X and Millennial women are in the workforce and making strides toward equality. A recent Visa study discovered the following stats about the modern woman’s money mindset:
- 57% of millennial women and 52% of Gen X women associate money with independence
- 76% of millennial women and 78% of Gen X women associate money with security
- 62% of women said they wouldn’t quit their job, no matter how much money their partner made
- 1 in 2 women believe they aren’t fairly compensated at work
If these attitudes about money feel familiar to you, you’re likely a woman who is concerned about her financial future. While the general financial advice on Consolidated Credit US applies to all genders, there is some advice that is specifically meant for women. Here, we review some of the most important topics concerning women and money.
Note on the gender pay gap
Every woman’s experience with the pay gap is different. Sometimes, women in certain careers make even more than the men. However, according to the Women’s Institute for Policy Research, women made 80.5 cents for every dollar a man earned in year-round, full-time positions in 2017. No matter what your personal situation or beliefs, keep in mind that the average woman makes less money than the average man.
What else makes women’s financial situations different?
Women are often seen as financial gatekeepers. However, as many single women will tell you, they have enough financial issues of their own to deal with. When you combine that with keeping track of family finances, it’s a recipe for confusion.
School, relationships, children, and retirement all have different financial effects on women and men. Read about how you can handle – and overcome – these unique challenges.
Among recent high school graduates ages 16 to 24, college enrollment rates for men and women were 66.9 percent and 71.3 percent, respectively. Consequently, more women have to worry about college-related expenses. Read up on student loans to make sure you’re up-to-date on how they work and how to use them wisely. Then take a look at these college do’s and don’ts for women:
DO look for scholarships specifically for women.
Because there is a lack of women in many important career fields, there are an abundance of woman-specific scholarships available. The fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, also known as STEM subjects, have a host of scholarships targeted toward female students. Not a science buff? Don’t worry. The arts and humanities have their fair share of scholarships, too.
Start your search on major sites like College Board, but don’t discount the smaller sites and scholarships. Every penny counts.
DO maintain your own savings account.
Especially if you have student loans, you may wonder if you can – or should – save at all. The answer is always yes. Saving is essential and should be built into your budget. Keep track of your savings account, and make sure it’s under your name. Having your own savings account separate from your parents or spouse is important for your personal financial health.
DON’T get high-interest store cards.
Retail stores will try to push their credit cards on you, especially at female-focused retailers. For example, the Victoria’s Secret Angel Card signup process is so tricky, some people don’t even realize they signed up for a credit card instead of a rewards program. Don’t get caught up in their high-interest schemes and stick only to the lower-interest credit cards you use regularly and responsibly.
DON’T go out too much.
This goes for any gender. It’s tempting to go out a lot in college. Your parents aren’t around and there’s no one telling you no. However, going out on the town often can bust your budget fast. This isn’t to say you have to stay at home every night. Just make sure to have a monthly “going out” budget that you actually stick to.
If you’re in a relationship, you know money can be a big source of stress. Money arguments happen to every couple, regardless of how much money they have or how much they love each other. Learn how to talk about money in a rational and productive way with your partner.
Talking about money
Starting a conversation about money can be awkward. Nobody likes to talk about how much they make or the financial difficulties they face, even if it’s with a trusted friend or partner. This is a stigma you need to overcome if you want your relationship to last and your financial life to prosper. Take a look at our Love and Money section for more info on discussing tough money topics with the people you love.
Financially preparing for marriage
Deciding to get married is a big commitment, both emotionally and financially. Before you make your vows, make sure you feel prepared and you and your partner are on the same page about money. Also read up on wedding costs before you start planning the big day.
What changes financially when you get married? For one, you can file taxes jointly. You can also split expenses in a two-income household, save jointly, and plan for retirement together. Here are some topics to cover with your soon-to-be (or long-time) spouse:
- Attitudes about budgeting, spending, and investing
- Accounts to keep separate and accounts to open jointly
- How much to spend on children down the road
- Insurance plans for health and life
- Plans for retirement accounts
- Pre-nuptial agreements and the possibility of divorce
This guide is designed for newlyweds. It addresses financial concerns for people who are married for the first time, as well as for those people blending families from prior marriages. It teaches couples how to combine their finances, set mutual goals, and decide how to manage their money to achieve their goals.
Do you want to have kids?
Kids are expensive. It’s a fact of life. Planning for a child means saving up a lot of money, either as a couple or a single mother, and making a lot of tough decisions. You will have to make sacrifices, completely rearrange your budget, and take maternity leave. Like marriage, starting a family is a personal decision that you or you and your partner should discuss together.
If you answered “yes” to the question above, this section is for you. Although you may have a partner to help you with children, as a woman, you will have your own unique financial needs during this time.
Your medical costs depend on how you choose to bring a child into the world and if there are any complications. Whether you choose a vaginal birth, C-section, adoption, or surrogacy, it’s going to be expensive. If you have insurance, ask them about what they cover when it comes to birth.
Cost of maternity leave
It’s important for working women to review their employer’s maternity leave policies when planning to have a child. Unfortunately, paid maternity leave is not a guarantee in the United States. Sometimes you get a few weeks with half your pay, sometimes you get only unpaid time, and sometimes you get lucky and receive full pay for your leave. If you have a partner, this is something you can discuss together.
Maternity leave also has a unique effect on a woman’s career that men don’t usually have to deal with. Although pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is illegal, many women report that taking maternity leave set back their careers or that employers found other means to replace or demote them. Hopefully this never happens to you. However, if you are worried about climbing the corporate ladder, the continuity of your career is something to consider when thinking about children and maternity leave.
In addition to medical and maternity leave costs, consider the cost of childcare for infanthood, the toddler years, and beyond. Depending on how much you and/or your partner make, you may have to decide between staying home with your child and going back to work. If you are torn, you could also try working from home.
Teaching kids good financial habits
Imparting financial wisdom to your children is something every parent hopes they do, regardless of gender. It’s part of raising a strong and independent child. There are some simple steps you can take to start educating your kids about money no matter how old they are. Here are a few tips:
- Give your children an allowance and help them make a budget
- Teach them about saving
- Reward them for going above and beyond
- Be there to explain what went wrong if they make a money mistake
If you’re like most people, you probably learned about money from the “School of Hard Knocks.” If you were lucky, you may have had parents who talked openly about money with you, and perhaps even showed you how to earn and save money. This guide helps parents talk to their children about smart money management and the value of money.
Women live longer than men. Though it sounds nice to live a longer life, it also means you likely need to save more for retirement than your male counterparts.
- Start by learning about retirement accounts like a 401(k), IRA, and Roth IRA.
- Find a financial advisor you can trust
- Don’t wait to get out of debt to start saving
- Build a diverse saving and investment strategy
Get informed about investing
Investing is something you can take part in during your whole adult life. It’s an especially important thing to think about when you plan for retirement, because investing grows the amount of money you are able to save. Stocks, bonds, and CDs are easy ways to start investing. Read our Basics of Investing page for more information.
Make sure you and your family are protected
Setting up health insurance plans, life insurance plans, and living wills is important for every family. Whether you are single or have a partner who also needs coverage, make sure to talk to your employer about health insurance plans. Also do your research on life insurance to ensure your family is taken care of in the event of your passing.
As you get older, think about talking with your partner or another family member about end-of-life planning. Although you may not want to think about it, organizing it now instead of leaving it to your children is the best route for your family to take.
The bottom line: Your financial future is bright!
Hearing about the stress of money and how it affects you as a woman can feel daunting. In reality, you should only feel more prepared to build a fantastic financial future! You now understand the unique challenges you face and have access to resources that can help you get empowered to overcome them.