❝For women, financial independence is a matter of necessity.❞ — Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, President, Charles Schwab Foundation
Why Financial Literacy+Resilience For Women? The prevailing socio-economic-political climate makes financial literacy more relevant than ever.
One can argue that Financial well-being is critical to achieving an integrated, healthy, fulfilling and harmonious life.
This is because financial stress could easily affect other areas such as; self-worth, coping ability and resilience, mental health, physical, spiritual and socio-emotional well-being.
There are many reasons why financial literacy for women is very important, and here are my top fifteen:
1. Overall issues of good health, mental and emotional well-being among women.
A popular axiom says that ‘Health is Wealth.’ This holds true now more than ever, especially with the recent findings in quantum mechanics and behavioural-social-neuro-science which shows the connections between mind-body-spirit.
Financial stress, especially when internalized for extended periods of time, has been proven to reduce the body’s natural immune system and compromises our susceptibility to various diseases and conditions.
Stress management has become a focal point in achieving work-life integration for women. And the #1 stressor among households in North America remains financial stress (Source: Vanier Institute for the family, 2014).
According to FSCO, as they grow older, women have a higher probability of getting a disability than men. Women also tend to have a disability or injury for longer periods of time than men.
2. Increasing life expectancy among women.
According to Statistics Canada, women outlive men by an average of 8 years. At some point in their lives, women would be solely responsible for their financial decisions. It may be due to the loss of a spouse, or even through divorce, separation etc. They have to start early to develop skills that will serve them well much later in life.
3. It affects the quality of your relationships (One of the most commonly cited reason for divorces in North America is financial incompatibility).
According to the Huffington Post, the No. 1 reason marriages end in divorce: Money problems. A strong financial background by each party in a relationship, with respect to budgeting, debt management, wealth creation and saving, fosters better communication, reduces the burden of stress on either partner, increases the chances of achieving joint and individual goals and invariably creates healthier relationships, overall.
Furthermore, in any given relationship, the skill set of both parties contribute to make the relationship stronger. Women who are financially savvy, bring their skills to the table and this makes for better choices and decisions for the unit as a whole.
A healthy financial relationship between couples enhances the overall quality of the relationship, because rather than fight or quarrel over finances, ‘money talk’ simply becomes a regular part of their ‘pillow talk!’
It is important to note that it is not merely about couples having a lot of money, rather it is more about have healthy and aligned values and goals about their finances and also having a respectful, resourceful and open attitude to money matters.
4. Trans-generational wealth transfer.
A sound Financial knowledge is critical for those women who receive any form of inheritance from their parents or grand-parents. There is an enormous amount of inter-generational wealth transfer to women (as widows, children, and care-takers).
5. Wage Differentials and less time span spent by women in the work force.
On average, women earn less than men for the same job descriptions, titles and/or functions. According to a report by Time Magazine in 2014, women are still earning less than men and this wage gap exists even in women-dominated jobs.
According to new research by Wells Fargo in 2014, college-educated millennial men made $20,000 more per year than women with the same education level. The median annual income for millennial men was $83,000, while women made only $63,000. According to statistics Canada and the Colour of poverty factsheet 2019, overall, racialized women earn 32% less at work.
Furthermore, women tend to spend less time in the workforce due to breaks from their career for life events such as maternity, child care, parental care etc. This necessitates that more emphasis should be on creating savings/investments vehicles to compensate for the gaps discussed above.
This is particularly significant when you consider that generally, when compared to men, women tend to have many routine (and unique) wants, needs and activities that require money and reflect directly on their self confidence/image. Some examples: grooming (menstrual health hygiene products, manicure/pedicure, hair and makeup/clothing, cosmetics, cosmetic surgery etc.)
6. Women are increasingly becoming more educated than men.
This leads to more opportunities but invariably also means women are acquiring high debt loads via student loans. Financial Literacy is key to managing these debts so they do not lead to poor health and high stress levels, thus wiping off the gains of a good education/career.
7. Social consciousness among women to give back to the community.
There is an increasing need to volunteer, make charitable donations and contribute to the society. This is particularly common among the 40+ demographic. This need for fulfillment, connection and commitment to good causes can be achieved with a knowledge of wealth creation and management as it helps to provide the flexibility, time-freedom and resources needed. You cannot give what you do not have.
8. Managing the different life stages: widowhood, divorce/separation, single parenthood, empty-nesting…
A sound financial base is becoming increasingly important in order to successfully navigate the complex nature of the present family structures and life-cycles. There are more single parent household more than ever in our history and the corresponding challenges also need to be addressed. According to the Women`s Legal Action Education Fund, the percentage of single-parent families, headed by women who live in poverty in North America is 52%!
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9. More women are becoming primary breadwinners in their families.
The harsh economic climate and changing labour markets, have led to a reversal of traditional financial roles in many households. New money management skills and resources are necessary to adapt effectively to these evolving family dynamics. The future of work, technology, labour mobility, remote work, and migration are also creating new opportunities for more women.
10. More women are choosing self employment/entrepreneurship as career paths.
Women who operate in the fluctuating entrepreneurial or independent contract environment calls for a different mindset and set of money management skills when compared to the more stable 9-to-5 corporate world.
11. Due to increasing life expectancy, more women are now in the ‘sandwich generation.’
A lot of women are now primary care-givers for both their immediate families and also for their parents and grand-parents. The financial stress and challenges associated with wearing these multiple hats are enormous.
12. Lack of a systematic financial literacy culture.
No one is immune to bad money habits. As women become more educated and successful, there is the danger of also acquiring more debts and responsibilities. And if this exists within a society where most household debts are at an all time high, financial insecurity and instability become the norm, even among college-educated and professional women.
13. A need to create awareness for holistic behavioural changes.
Women are often the primary nurturers and are critical in shaping the characters of children. A sound foundation of financial literacy among women would enhance the general societal culture and help leave a legacy of sound financial culture to upcoming generations. A holistic financial literacy program is necessary to create the society of our dreams where accountability, responsibility, resiliency and integrity are key.
14. The intersections between economic independence and sexual/gender based/domestic violence.
In the past, it has often been assumed that financial Literacy and independence among women reduces the possibility and extent of abuse in relationships. And that in cases where intimate partner violence and domestic abuse occur, women with a healthy financial awareness and means are often better positioned to explore and exercise healthier options – seek, afford and access professional help, divorce, resources to use legal means to fight for child custody).
However, it is critical to point out that new research and several studies show that this is a catch-22 for women – On one hand, poverty and poor financial literacy make women vulnerable to domestic abuse (limits the options of leaving the relationship), on the other hand, out-earning your partner also makes you subject to abuse, and it can exacerbate it. And financial dependence is just one of many complex factors that create barriers to women leaving abusive relationships.
“Multiple pathways operate, in opposite directions, at the same time – increased financial independence allows a woman to negotiate change within (or leave) an abusive relationship, but is also perceived by her partner as a threat to his status as provider.” Refer to these reports for more reading –
15. Navigating a new world and post-pandemic recovery.
The devastating impact of COVID-19 on women cannot be fully quantified. This article by Ann Collins captures it best – (https://healthydebate.ca/2021/03/topic/women-forefront-recovery/)
“Within two months of the pandemic’s onset, 1.5 million women in Canada had lost their jobs. This is more than the entire population of Greater Ottawa. And while a similar number of men also became unemployed, they managed to return to the workforce much more quickly than women.
For many women, what started as a temporary hiatus from work is now permanent, with women’s participation in the labour force dropping from an all-time high to the lowest level since the mid-1980s.
In the health-care sector, the pressures on women are exponential. Women make up about 80 per cent of our health-care system. More than 90 per cent of nurses in Canada are women, and the same is true of personal support workers, care aides and many other disciplines. Three-quarters of our respiratory therapists are women and so are 80 per cent of lab staff.
The disproportionate impact of this pandemic on women and racialized communities is putting our country on a troubling backward trajectory. We are all collectively responsible for challenging the status quo to ensure that women are not only part of, but at the forefront of, our country’s post-pandemic recovery.”
Investing in women, in the political, socio-cultural and economic needs of women is critical to a sustainable post-pandemic recovery. Financial literacy and wholeness should become a key core component of this recovery.
(Sources: Vanier Institute for the family, Statistics Canada, Canadian Human Mortality Database, TD Economics, Women`s Legal Action Education Fund, Wells Fargo, TIME Magazine, Huffington Post, Colour of Poverty Factsheet 2019).
Overwhelmed and wondering where to start?
Take these next steps:
1. Get a copy of: Gail Vaz-Oxlade`s book `It’s Your Money: Becoming A Woman Of Independent Means;`
Maria Nemeth’s book ‘The Energy of Money;’ and George Samuel Clason’s ‘The Richest Man in Babylon.’
2. Read the book and identify 3 tips/strategies that are most relevant to your situation.
3. Apply these tips in your life and track your progress. (If possible, find an accountability buddy and/or an online or offline community focused on financial literacy & wholeness, wealth creation), so you do this as part of a team or community, and these groups help to keep members on track).
*Join the Whole WoMan Network Community. We are currently transitioning into a worker cooperative and our membership portal opens up on July 1, 2023! Let today be the day you begin to take empowered and aligned action towards a Happier, Healthier, Sexier, Wealthier , Whole YOU!
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