Sunday, 26 March 2017

Weekly Column: Girls just wanna have fun(ds)

Girls just wanna have fun(ds)

Did you know that, in their lifetimes, women need to save more money than men? Statistically speaking, women are likely to live longer, and therefore need to plan for a longer retirement. Not only that, many women take time away from their careers to have kids. While some women are comfortable staying home to provide their own childcare, others return to work and find that they’ve either been passed up for promotions, missed training opportunities or have otherwise fallen behind in their field.

In the event of a family emergency, it quite often falls upon women to take time off to help. Whether it’s a family crisis, helping with aging parents or helping the kids adjust to becoming parents themselves, women are more likely to sacrifice their wages and promotions due to family responsibilities. Most would say that being involved in their community and family is well worth it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it affects how much money you will make in a year and over your lifetime.

Additionally, in most industries, women are still not paid the same amount as men doing the same jobs. While there’s been progress in wage parity, it’s still harder for women to get promotions and raises no matter how hard they work. So, what’s a girl to do?

Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you

No matter your financial plans, don’t wait for someone else to get them started. Get professional advice on the most effective ways to save and invest, whatever your age. The strategy of a young lady fresh out of university won’t be the same as that of a 50-something divorcee or a widow facing retirement alone. A newlywed young mom has a vastly different reality than an upwardly mobile businesswoman. What they all have in common, though, is a right and a responsibility to plan for their own future and the future of any dependents they support.

Plan for debt

There are many different debts that a woman might incur over her lifetime. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, don’t let it stop you from saving a down payment, finding a property and purchasing a home. Get a roommate or turn the basement into a money-making suite if possible. Taking on student debt is quite likely an investment in yourself and your future. Sit down and plan how you’ll be able to pay for extra education.

When shopping for a vehicle, keep in mind the depreciation that happens the moment you drive a new car off the lot. Consider whether a used vehicle might suit your needs just as well. Do your research and watch for a used vehicle that still has warranty if you’re more comfortable having that security. At all times, think about how the interest you are paying on “stuff” might otherwise be going into savings. Don’t let your lifestyle choices of today eclipse your financial security in the future.

Diamonds (and gold) are a girl’s best friend

Not only women are intimidated by the stock market. However, if feeling that you don’t understand prevents you from building an investment portfolio, you are selling yourself short. Websites such as gogirlfinance.com and financialwoman.com can help boost your financial literacy. Meet with several financial advisers to discuss how you want to put your money to work for you. Don’t hire anyone who condescends to you—it’s your money and you should be comfortable talking to your investment professional.

Life is not a fairy tale

Things get complicated when you go from being a working woman, earning your own pay and deciding how to spend and save, to being a partner in a relationship. Combining incomes and households, whether in a marriage or common-law situation, is a serious endeavor. An honest discussion about financial goals seems a no-brainer, but not all couples know each others’ expectations or beliefs.

It’s true that many families have struggled to pay for necessities these last few years. Beginning a conversation about a woman’s financial needs might, at this point, seem moot. But, if you have some control over your household spending, perhaps you should start thinking of places to cut costs to save for your long-term future.

Perhaps you can educate your daughters or nieces on being financially independent. No matter whether you are single and working or in a committed relationship where all your needs are met, things change and unforeseen emergencies arise. The question is, will you be ready?

Having a solid safety net in place, for retirement and emergencies, only makes sense no matter your gender. But with lower wages and many factors drawing them out of the workforce, women need to be even more diligent and prepared. It’s never too late to come up with a plan.


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