As a financial coach, I believe that all of us can achieve a good working relationship with money so that the life choices we want to make are supported by our finances rather than our finances driving our life choices.
In my work I especially focus on women – why? More than 50 years on from the Equal Pay Act 1970, the gender pay gap in the UK persists at around 15% (ONS 2021) and women aged between 50 and 59 have the highest gender pay gap at 21.8%. Put another way, that means that we Queenagers work 80 days a year for free compared to men of the same age.
Meanwhile, the average pensions gap between men and women in the UK (according to Legal and General) is 17% at the start of a woman’s career and reaches 56% at retirement.
Hardly surprising we’re worried
So it’s no surprise really that women are worried about our finances. With stats like these, we have good cause to be. According to the 2022 Ellevest Financial Wellbeing survey, which done in America, the women who took part confirmed that 43% of them actively worried about money at least once a day and 59% at least once a week.
There is clearly much work to be done and yet women continue to feel dissuaded from addressing our finances for a mixture of complex societal, cultural and personal reasons. In the context of the cost of living crisis, it is more important than ever that we understand our finances and so let me be very clear – there is NO reason why women cannot assert themselves over their finances. There is no researched or proven gender bias that shows that men are better at finance than women. Indeed, according to a study by Warwick Business School, the opposite is actually true.
You can take control
I’m happy to add that I have worked with an array of female clients, each with their own unique story and perspective, and all of whom have found, that with some encouragement, education and sense of purpose, they can take control of their finances and improve their financial wellbeing.
A simplified version of this journey normally comprises of moving from a start point of ambivalence or uncertainty (occasionally even abject fear), through curiosity, growing awareness and understanding, to confidence and new feelings of strength, empowerment and security. Life can look quite different from this place.
Don’t avoid the conversation
There is no reason for any of us not to be in control of our finances and yet many women remain “switched off” to money. It’s a taboo subject and something we often feel uncomfortable discussing. On the last Noon webinar one of our attendees was happy to share that she was far more likely to discuss her sex life with her female friends than her finances.
Not only are we reluctant to discuss financial issues with our friends, there are many of us who cannot, or choose not to, have a financial conversation with our partners. I have worked with women who had no idea what their partners earned or the value of their partners pension or their joint net worth. Even if there was an argument to suggest that this is alright if life is running smoothly, what happens when it isn’t? In the event of divorce or separation, for example, or bereavement?
Isn’t it time that we challenged our own assumptions and asked the questions, the answers to which potentially provide for our long term security? What is stopping us taking responsibility? We need to find a way to open up the money conversation, share stories and support each other.
Earlier on this year, I ran a webinar for the Noon community on “Understanding our emotional relationship with money (and taking care of our financial wellbeing)”. On Thursday, March 2nd, I will host a second webinar, where the focus will be on building a sensible financial foundation that supports your overall wellbeing.
I really hope you will join me, which you can do by reserving your ticket HERE.
By Sasha Sasha Speed, Financial Coach www.sashaspeed.com