Women make the majority of household financial decisions and are predicted to hold over $100 trillion in assets by 2025. But ultimately, compared with their male counterparts, women are more likely to lack financial confidence.
Forbes, which reported on these findings in 2020, discovered that this applies whether women are singled or partnered.
For the record, most available financial statistics specifically compare “men” and “women,” resulting in disparities that often exclude the LGBTQ community. This data also doesn’t necessarily include historical or personal issues that affect BIPOC, LGBTQ and people with disabilities when it comes to money.
There are a multitude of reasons women feel they are at a disadvantage when it comes to finances. The pay gap — which disproportionately impacts women of color — inequality in education and challenges specific to working mothers are some of the major causes of why women feel less confident.
In honor of Women’s History Month, National Debt Relief (NDR) hosted a virtual panel to discuss “financial wellness” for women. NDR’s chief client operations officer, Natalia Brown, led the conversation between psychologist Regine Muradian, PsyD, and Dasha Kennedy, founder of the Broke Black Girl website.
When it comes to debt, Muradian stressed the importance of not only acknowledging there is a problem but also women needing to understand it’s OK to take care of themselves.
“When you’re on the plane and who do you give the oxygen mask first to? Most people will say, I give it to my child. I say, no, you give it to yourself,” Muradian said. “I want you to really think about self-care as giving [the oxygen mask] to yourself.”
Brown pointed out that surveys have found women exhibit 30% more overall stress than men do, and that includes how financial stress has an impact on them too.
“One of the first things that we think about is, for women in comparison to men, is their responsibilities,” Muradian continued. “Whether you are a mom or not a mom or a caregiver, women [in general] do have more responsibilities — or feel they have more responsibilities in terms of contribution.”
Kennedy agreed, especially as a single mom, that one of the best pieces of financial advice she can offer is to get ahead of the financial stress and plan.
“When I think of being a single mom — I’m divorced as well. I have two sons, and life happened very abruptly,” she said. “I was not prepared. I did not think about the future. I was solely dependent upon my ex-husband.”
Kennedy calls herself a financial activist. Her platform, the Broke Black Girl, specifically works to help Black women feel confident in their financial journeys.
“Any time we as women, when we don’t ask for more money, we are leaving money on the table,” Kennedy continued. “That money could be used to do other things in our lives.”
What really stood out was how Muradian and Kennedy both wanted to ensure that their tips were achievable for women. Nothing about their budgeting suggestions or investing tips implied that everyone listening has to completely revamp their lifestyle to make it work.
“You definitely want to spend less than what you’re making live within your means,” Kennedy said. “That looks like limiting nonessential expenses, such as dining out, shopping [and] entertainment. Of course, you want to be able to do those things. And I think everyone should enjoy those things, but we want to spend them in a way that we can actually use our money toward things that help us reach our finance goals.”
“Social media has a very big impact on how much we’re spending,” Muradian added. “I do believe that it has an impact on the debt we are putting ourselves into because it’s really unnecessary spending a lot of the time.”
Muradian also touched on how external, unexpected situations can affect personal finances, so it’s important to plan ahead for those too. Especially when it comes to medical expenses.
“Health care in America is very expensive,” she said. “People sometimes forgo getting health insurance because of the expense and the cost, or they get a job that does not provide it. And then they have a medical emergency that sets them way back for many years at a time. So that’s one thing that’s very difficult to get out of because hospitals tend to sell debts. It’s really hard to track them.”
Ultimately, what both women truly agreed upon and advocated for, was more people being open about personal goals and debt. The current stigma and shame associated with debt and talking about money isn’t helping anyone.
“We always have the opportunity to get better and move forward,” Muradian concluded. “We’re constantly learning.”
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