On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment granted women in the U.S. the right to vote. Today we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, and while women enjoy more rights today than in the past, there is still room for improvement. As a non profit credit counseling agency, ACCC wants to share some financial tips for women to become more money savvy and get closer to financial equality!
Historical Background of Women’s Financial Rights:
1862: California passed a law allowing women to bank in their own names regardless of marital status.
1963: The Equal Pay Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act in an attempt to abolish the wage disparity between men and women.
1974: The Equal Credit Opportunity Act made it illegal to discriminate against credit card applicants based on gender (and religion, race, and nationality). Previously, banks required women to have their husband cosign for a credit card. Banks often denied single and divorced women credit cards.
1978: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act made it illegal for employers to fire women for being pregnant. Before this law was passed, women were often fired after they became pregnant.
Women’s Financial Issues Today:
According to a survey by Credit Karma, 38% of female respondents had less than $400 in savings. Only 17% of men had less than $400 in savings. The survey suggests that men are more likely than women to pay themselves first, whereas women save whatever is left over after expenses. Women are also less prepared for retirement than men. In the survey, 28% of women say that they are prepared for retirement, as opposed to 53% of men. There is also a significant difference in the number of men and women who actively seek financial education and advice. The vast majority of men seek out financial education, whereas only 35% of women do.
Financial Tips for Women
Our culture and laws need to change for women to become fully equal, but we can take steps ourselves to secure our own financial futures, save for retirement, and eliminate credit card debt!
Start saving money in an emergency fund.
Even if you can’t put a lot of money into savings right now, start with $10 or $20 a month. Without an emergency fund, losing your job or a getting a hefty medical bill could send you spiraling into debt.
Plan ahead for your retirement.
If your employer matches your 401(k) contributions, you should definitely be contributing at least enough to get a decent employer match. If your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k) or similar plan, start putting money away in an IRA. You may think you can’t afford to, but reexamine your budget and see where you can cut back. Saving for retirement is vitally important. Also, women tend to live longer than men, so you have more years of retirement to save for!
Change your investment strategies over time.
When you’re young, you can have riskier investments, but as you near the age of retirement, you probably want less risk. Make sure the risk of your investments matches your goals and your age.
Know how to manage your own money.
If you’re married or in a long-term relationship, don’t just assume your spouse or significant other will always take care of the finances. In the event of a death or divorce, you need to be able to manage your money without them.
Educate yourself on financial matters.
This blog is a great place to start! Talking Cents has financial advice for every life stage. Additionally, ACCC has free education resources, budgeting worksheets, information on paying off debt, and financial calculators.
If you struggle to pay off debt, ACCC’s debt management program may help. Call 800-769-3571 today to speak to one of our certified credit counselors.