Financial Challenges Women Face

Published March 11, 2022 

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Written by:

Stephanie Campos, CFP®
Zoe Network Advisor

Financial Challenges Women Face

Published March 11th, 2022 
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Written by:

Stephanie Campos, CFP®
Zoe Network Advisor

Money is usually a closed-book topic in many households. In my home money was a daily conversation. Raised by a single mother, I experienced first-hand the financial challenges women may face. 

In My Home, Money Was Always a Topic of Conversation

Money is usually a closed-book topic in many households. For parents, discussing finances with their children is a big “no-no”. For me, it was different. Money was a daily conversation in my home. My mother raised me as a single mom, and through every big life decision, I was her partner in crime. When we bought our first home, I watched her create a budget to make sure we could pay for it. I remember sitting with her at Dunkin’ Donuts when she signed the closing documents. I even contributed $200 to the last-minute closing costs, and I was so proud! I felt like I owned our home too. I was 14, and since then, I have always participated in big life decisions. 

We had spent so long moving from apartment to apartment and I had to switch schools many times, but this finally felt like our new permanent home. We were first-generation homeowners, and I shared my mom’s feeling of accomplishment. Once we moved in, our home was our baby. And since it was my investment too, I felt extra motivated to take care of it. I helped plant flowers in the front of the house and ripped out the old carpet that the previous owners left behind. 

Looking back, as a teenager, it was a great way to learn responsibility. 

It got more evident through the years, that other families handled their financial decisions differently. My schoolmates had stay-at-home moms and their dads seemed to handle the finances on their own. I would brag about my mom getting a promotion at our local bank (from teller to manager) but it didn’t seem to resonate with my friends. They didn’t get why I would be excited about my mom’s job. 

For us, a promotion meant going to Disney World or buying our new ’87 Chevy Cavalier, which I later inherited as my first car. 

It was obvious to me that my mom had to work harder to get ahead than her male counterparts, although I didn’t know why.  

Being involved in the financial decisions that were made in my home really opened my eyes to the importance of planning. Before I even knew what “financial planning” was, I was already doing it at home. I understood two things: 1. Nothing is free, and 2. Whichever life path I choose, as a woman, I would have to prove myself in it. I remember considering a career in art until I realized that the potential earnings at that time would barely cover the student loans I would need to pay back.

For decades women have faced different challenges than men when it comes to their finances.  Women have historically earned less than men for the same type of work and are expected to take time off from their careers to raise the family. The financial challenges women face are different from those of men. Let’s take a closer look at what some of those are.  

4 Financial Challenges Women Face & How to Navigate Them

 

1. Childcare

For women to enter (and stay) in the workforce, childcare is one of the biggest challenges. My mom did what most working-class single moms did at that time, she tied the house key around my neck so I could go home after school. 

Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. In the ‘80s, higher divorce rates and more job opportunities for women left a reported 3 million children (ages 6-13) to take care of themselves after school as latch-key kids.

Even now with the $976 per month average cost of after-school care childcare ($1,360 per month for a toddler), many families are reducing their hours at work, changing their jobs for more flexibility, or leaving the workforce altogether.

Most would ask the obvious question: why don’t all employers support women and mothers in the workforce? Although there are numerous companies with this type of flexibility, we’re not fully there yet! So women have to pick and choose their battles, and ultimately, may have to sacrifice their jobs for their families.

2. Student Loan Debt

One of the most recurring scenarios with my clients is that they’re still paying down student loans well into their 30s and 40s. Part of the reason? The wage difference doesn’t allow women to pay down their debt fast enough, leaving female student borrowers with an average debt that is 9.6% higher than their male peers one year after graduation.

Carrying high debt balances can be overwhelming, and it has discouraged young women from buying a home and even prompted some to delay starting a family.  

Some students graduate college with up to 8-10 different student loans, meaning they’re making 8-10 different monthly payments. Yes. Aside from handling their monthly expenses and earnings, working graduates are making up to 10 additional monthly debt payments. 

The good thing is that student loan debt is manageable, here are a few ways: 

  • Loan Consolidation: With Federal loans, you have the option to combine them into a big loan. Simplifying your payments (meaning you get only one monthly bill) without impacting your interest rates. This makes the debt more manageable. 
  • Loan Refinancing: You can also combine and refinance your private loans. Although private loans can’t be added to the Federal ones, you can save money here by lowering your interest rate if you have a good credit score! 
  • Loan Repayment: There are several strategies for debt repayments: lowest balance first, highest interest rate first, extra payments, etc. The most popular is the snowball method which pays off the smallest balance first and then adds the cash from that payment to the next debt. You’ll still be spending the same amount on monthly debt payments, but they’ll be more targeted and it’ll be more clear that you’re making progress towards paying them off.

3. Budgeting

Women are spending more than $20 trillion dollars running their households, driving the world economy. They’re often held accountable for monthly budgeting, as evidenced by the flurry of smart shopping tips in “Aldi Mom” Instagram posts. We are consistently balancing our family’s budget, and ultimately deciding between what is a necessity, a luxury, and a long-term goal like college savings. 

One of the most effective ways to manage your spending (and not go overboard) is to build a solid budget. Starting one is simple, here are five easy steps: 

  1. Evaluate your monthly income (after taxes)
  2. Create a list of monthly expenses 
  3. Analyze whether your spending matches your values
  4. Use a budget to transform your values into achievable goals
  5. Adjust your value-based budget as needed

4. Longevity

Numerous demographic studies have shown throughout the years that women live longer than men. Meaning women need their money to last longer. What does this mean for their investments? They need to outpace inflation during the 20-30 years they are in retirement. For over the last 10 years, Treasuries, which are viewed as the safest investments, have only paid 2.02% in interest

Women are now forced to make riskier investments, in order to get higher returns and avoid outliving their assets. 

We’ve understood the inequalities in the workforce and many aspects where men have been favored over women. But what about finances? It’s pretty obvious that the financial world is a “boys club” that women don’t always participate in. But did you know that women are better investors than men? According to a 2021 Fidelity Investments study, women investors prefer to use a diversified buy-and-hold strategy rather than actively trading stocks. With these strategies, female investors outperform male investors. Leading them to seek out financial advisors that understand their particular situations and can help them protect their hard-earned wealth.

Living longer also means women are charged more for insurance premiums and are more likely to need long-term care in their elder years.  Over three-fourths (75.7%) of residents in assisted living communities are women. With the national average of a nursing home costing $8,821 per month, or $105,852 per year, long-term care (LTC) insurance can be a valuable asset

Financial Challenges Women Face In Summary

It’s not only me who has noticed that the financial challenges women have are stronger, and women are underserved in the financial industry. They need advice tailored to them. American women are expected to control $30 trillion in financial assets by the year 2030. When I decided to become a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, only 23.3% of CFP™ professionals were women. When it comes to growing and protecting their wealth, women are more comfortable hiring someone who understands their particular situation. A recent study found that people perceive women as more trustworthy than men, making it easier for women to trust other women with their finances. 

I started my own advisory firm to address this. To help my clients, especially other women, create easy-to-follow financial plans. To help them grow their wealth and to manage their money through the obstacles they may face during their lifetime. 

I single-handedly experienced what it’s like to be a woman in control of your family’s financial well-being. Since I was familiar with navigating finances it came naturally to me, but for some women, it’s not that easy. My goal is that you are able to spend more time making memories with the people you love, rather than worrying about your finances. This is why I’m so passionate about doing what I do – empowering people (especially women) to take control of their financial futures.

Disclosure: This blog is not investment advice and should not be relied on for such advice or as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal or financial advisors. The observations of industry trends should not be read as recommendations for stocks or sectors.

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