The Women Making Money A Feminist Issue

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While we often discuss the boogeyman of gender finances – the pay gap, and the blatant inequality that reveals, what we don’t talk about enough, is the Fin Cap Gap. That’s the Financial Capability Gap. When it comes to understanding and coping with our finances, stats show that women lag behind men by a depressingly high margin. A survey by investing app Moneybox, last year, revealed that seven out of 10 millennial women say they have never been taught to manage money. When you compare this to 42% of men, it’s pretty bleak. A separate study carried out by UBS shows that 63% of millennial women in the UK still admit to deferring to their husbands or male partner regarding long-term financial decisions, with 85% feeling that their male partner knew more about investing than they did. This has a huge impact on how we manage and approach our money. Just one fifth of women in the UK have any investments at all, compared to 33% of men. It’s clear that both our attitude towards money and society’s perception of our financial capabilities need a massive shake up.
Enter the Female Finfluencers, the powerhouse women who have made it their business to open up the conversation about women and personal finance and who are working to close the financial capability gap once and for all.We asked them to share their thoughts on women and money, and offer their advice for challenging feelings of financial inadequacy and how to get to grips with personal finance, especially in this difficult current climate. It’s 50 years since the Equal Pay Act was introduced but things have just become much harder for women

Jude Kelly, CBE, founder of the WOW: Women of the World festivals and Olga Miller, global innovation expert in financial services, are the co-founders of SmartPurse, a knowledge and networking platform and financial toolkit for women.

“We decided to launch SmartPurse after our combined experiences of years of hearing women’s stories of how so many of us feel patronised and excluded from financial matters. Women have been locked out of financial discussions, across cultures for centuries. As recently as 1971, women in the UK were not allowed to have a bank account. We’ve heard from women that they often are afraid of money or feel stupid and incompetent. Our advice would be to develop an understanding of how you feel about money, the role it plays and the money messages you carry with you – most of our money beliefs are inherited from our parents and societal norms.Gain clarity of some of your bigger dreams, hopes and goals and what they could mean financially. If you live with a partner, discuss these jointly and who can contribute what to achieve these goalsPut your money to work for you early. “Investing” sounds like a term for bankers and brokers and many women we meet believe it is something for rich people only. That is a misconception – the idea is that you put money aside that you save for things you want in the next 1-3 years, and have a part that grows over a long time e.g. 10+ years. With today’s financial tools you can start growing your money with very little amounts, even with £1!

As women, we hold 40% of the global private wealth and control 80% of purchasing decisions, so we have to jump over our shadow and get going – educate ourselves on the basics if needed and then simply start making a plan and make the money work for us. The financial services industry also has an enormous opportunity to simplify it’s language, improve the processes and customer experience and provide products and services in a transparent, easy to understand way – there still is a long way to go. Especially now, we have the opportunity to change the world of money and with it create a future that is more inclusive and equal for all of us.”Alex Stedman is a freelance fashion stylist and founder of The Frugality, a site about sensible spending.

“I think women often avoid talking about, and dealing with, money more so than men. I think the fact that women have historically earnt less than their male counterparts has wrapped a lot of shame into the discussion. I think this conversation is changing though. There are so many platforms out there now that are helping to empower women and their relationship with money – I think what Vestpod are doing is fab.It’s important to never feel alone – there are lots of helplines (National Debt helpline, Citizens Advice Bureau) that can offer assistance, as well as money social media accounts to follow. I have unfollowed a lot of accounts that permanently made me feel like I needed more new stuff, and instead follow accounts that make me feel good about myself.

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Start small when you start tackling personal finance. It can be as simple as checking your bank everyday and get yourself more acquainted with your account – knowing exactly where my money goes is the biggest thing I have learnt. You’d be surprised how many direct debits you don’t even think about!”Holly Mackay has worked in the investment industry for over 20 years and is the founder and MD of Boring Money, a company dedicated to explaining financial investments and decisions in an easy, accessible and less ‘boring’ way.

“I think the first thing you should do when approaching your money is not to beat yourself up. My women friends are being really hard on themselves at the moment because we can’t be perfect Mums, partners, teachers, cooks, bankers – whatever it might be. Everyone’s finances look a bit ugly right now so you’re not alone there. If you’re tackling your personal finances for the first time, start with debt. Clear it – even a tiny bit at a time. This is just bad debt, not ‘good debt’ like a student loan or a mortgage. Then look at insurance – have you got the basics? And shop around – don’t just accept the renewals. Sort out a cash buffer: protect yourself by building 3 – 6 months’ salary in easy access cash. Look into a workplace pension – even if furloughed your boss still has to pay 3% of most people’s salary into one – free money! Also don’t neglect a private pension – basic rate taxpayers get a free £20 from the Govt for everyone £80 they pay in. You can set one up online and it can be easy. Finally; ISAs – we can all be investors. It’s easier than ever – start from just £1 and learn the ropes. Our site can also help you start.I want to help ‘normal people’ to make better choices with their investments and pensions. If I can be the less-perky middle-aged wine-drinking Joe Wicks and help Brits sort out their financial fitness I’d be happy.”

“My aim in writing We Need To Talk About Money is very much to give a name to a bunch of experiences, emotions, feelings, and dynamics that I think most women have or will encounter at some point in their lives in relation to money, but that I don’t think there’s enough literature on.I think reticence about money is a cultural thing. A lot of women do talk about money (certainly the women I know), but I think on the whole Brits tend to be less willing to discuss money openly than people in other cultures. It’s slightly more taboo here than it is elsewhere. I’m wary about suggesting that women need to ‘work on themselves’ in some way, to become more financially confident. I think we need to remember that a lot of the financial institutions and structure we operate in are a) deliberately set up to be confusing, and even predatory and b) not designed with women’s lives and needs in mind. I think we should be thinking about how these bigger systems need to improve and do better for women.”

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Diane Watson, is a former financial advisor and the founder of She Can Prosper, an initiative dedicated to giving free support and advice to women of all ages so they can have greater control of their finances.

“I am a passionate advocate of women becoming more engaged in the provision of their own financial well being. I have seen too many women leave it up to their partner to make the decisions which leaves them with no clear plan about what their options are or will be in the future. My best piece of advice would be to take the time to understand what the likely outcomes are both of short, medium and long term plans for your money. So the starting point is taking stock and understanding the ‘what ifs’ if things go wrong and taking action if required. Often the burying one’s head in the sand leads to potentially poor outcomes. I’m a great believer that knowledge equals empowerment in terms of what can and can’t be achievedIn this current climate, understand what your situation looks like and whether you need to review your spending until things become clearer after some normality returns . Review your expenditure and see whether you are able to make savings due to home working and set up an account to move these savings into.”Laura Whateley is a consumer journalist and author of Money: A User’s Guide.

“Money is still a subject shrouded in mystery, shame, and a lot of boring jargon. I really believe personal finance doesn’t need to be as complicated as people (usually those who are trying to sell us stuff) make it out to be. In my experience men and women are equally clueless and stressed out about personal finance, but perhaps because there are still more worries for women about being seen as “nice”, women may be more concerned about being perceived as someone too interested in money or motivated by it. Talking about money is still seen as impolite, inconsiderate or crass. When it comes to getting to grips with your personal finance, start by believing you can. Too many people I speak to start with the attitude that they’re “terrible” with money, and destined to be that way forever. It’s like anything that requires a bit of self discipline and self belief, like exercise for example. No one can run well or do yoga or sit ups without practise, but most able-bodied people can get the hang of some sort of exercise if they decide they want it enough. I’m a single mum on £32k, but I still have to rely on benefits to stay afloat… here’s how I’m making it work during the pandemic

It’s really tough for people at the moment and there are no easy answers if you’ve lost your job or are struggling to pay bills. Seek as much help as you can, there are brilliant debt charities out there such as StepChange who will offer non judgemental, anonymous advice whatever your situation. Ignoring financial problems will only ever make them worse. Know that this situation is not your fault. I think we do need to believe in our own ability to understand and manage finances better, and decide to “own” money as a subject that is relevant to all of us, not just those who are into maths and spreadsheets. We all have money, and we need to figure out how we want to spend it.”Emilie Bellet is the founder of Vestpod, a financial education and support community for women, and the author of the book You’re Not Broke, You’re Pre-Rich.

“We all need financial education. But – and I think this is especially the case for women – talking about money is still considered to be “impolite” and it seems almost indecent to want to earn more of it. Women have 20% of the pension savings that men have, and are not investing enough for their future. Women also tend to think that they’d make bad investors, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The great irony is that when women do invest, they usually outperform men.All of these issues are made more difficult because of the gender pay gap. That, on top of the imposed silence around our net worth, impacts not only our wallets and wellness but also our mental health.Women need to change their money mindsets and gain more confidence in their ability to handle finances. Education plays a big role in aiding both of these things. Over the past 3 years, the Vestpod community learnt so much from each another. We found simple ways to spend, save and invest money. The honest, nonjudgmental space that we offer women means that they’re more comfortable to discuss money matters that concern them. Vestpod’s finance classes and workshops are extremely popular, indicating that there is a huge demand for financial education.
During these extremely difficult times, it’s important women aren’t afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s universal credit, government loans, or borrowing money from family – there’s no shame in asking for help. Feeling like you’re in control is key – start with a budget and really understand where your money is going. Try to take small steps to feel more in control: switch to a cheaper energy supplier, cancel unnecessary subscriptions, take on small jobs for an extra source of income. Starting to build an emergency fund will also be super helpful to feel more secure about the future.

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It can seem overwhelming because of the jargon and our ingrained attitudes toward money, but you need to rewrite that story and stop feeling bad about money. You can’t have a positive relationship with money if you feel like it’s a taboo – so get out there and talk about it. Embrace the power of community and online education. Make a plan, write it down, and set a weekly “money date” with your accounts to make sure you’re on top of your budget. And, most importantly, be proud of and celebrate each step you take toward financial empowerment!”



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