The gender wage gap isn’t a secret, and it isn’t the only bias for women and their wealth. Basic wealth-building opportunities like homeownership also come with a heavy price tag. Women are more likely to be denied a mortgage and pay an average 2 percent more than men for their home, though they make 2 percent less when they’re ready to sell.
Centuries of financial inequality inform every step of a woman’s financial life. From childhood, girls make half of what boys make with their allowance. Once they’re climbing the career ladder, we find that salaried men make 18 percent more than salaried women.
Women are also less likely to be promoted — despite being 84 percent more effective in core leadership skills. Women account for just 4.9 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions, and women of color only account for 3 percent of C-suite positions globally.
There are still a lot of obstacles for women’s financial opportunities, but there’s been significant growth over the last several decades, too. There was a 21 percent increase in women-owned businesses between 2014 and 2019. These businesses generated $1.9 trillion in revenue.
So, how can you help level the financial playing field? Here are some tips for your financial well-being and ways to support women in your community.
Automate and Invest Your Savings
Most Americans have some savings account, and 75 percent already have their savings contributions automated. However, the median savings for Americans is $3,500 and a third have less than $1,000 saved up.
Lower salaries, a lack of career opportunities, and living expenses can make it hard to save. Still, building savings and investing that money is hugely beneficial to your wealth.
Set several savings accounts for different needs — a 401K for retirement, high-yield savings account for short-term goals like a vacation, and emergency savings account you can pull from quickly.
Once you have your core savings needs met, invest some additional cash to grow. Traditional brokerage accounts can help you get started, or you can try robo-advisors or apps like Acorns to help you build a portfolio from home.
Revisit Your Budget Regularly
Your income and expenses change all of the time. If your car breaks down and you buy a new model that costs $30 more a month to pay off, then you need to account for that in your monthly spending.
Similarly, if you get a well-deserved raise, you need to decide where that money is going. It’s always a good idea to boost your savings rate each year — especially if you earned a raise or promotion.
Even if your budget doesn’t change, keeping an eye on your spending habits can help you avoid overspending and relying on your credit card. You also don’t want to keep an excess of unused money in a checking account when it could be growing as an investment or savings.
Build Your Career and Financial Opportunities
Investing in yourself and your career is a valuable way to expand your earning potential and build career security. Collecting valuable skills related to your role builds your value in the company — making you harder to replace and giving you negotiating power when it’s time to talk salary. It also allows you to try a new role or company if you prefer.
Networking is also a good way for you to learn more about your role’s function at other companies. You can talk about industry growth, expectations, and pay with colleagues so you’re more informed about career opportunities and salary rates.
Support Financial Equality
Seek ways to advocate for financial equality in your workplace and community to benefit everyone’s bottom line. Here are some ways to advocate for women and wealth in your life:
- Advocate for Pay and Promotion Audits –We know the wage gap exists and that representation of women and people of color gets thinner the higher of the corporate ladder you go. Work with your leadership to see how your office can implement regular audits for employee pay, raises, and promotions to catch inequalities and level the playing field.
- Seek Professional Development Opportunities –Professional development helps you level up your career and opens opportunities for new, better-paying jobs or negotiating raises at your current company. Look for local resources for professional women and book regular training for your team. Education benefits your employer just as much as it does employees.
- Become a Mentor –Launch a mentorship program in your community, profession, or office to support women and young professionals. Mentorships can inspire confidence and provide valuable lessons for both the mentor and mentee. An internal mentorship program has the added benefits of building team bonds and supporting your company culture.
Financial equality won’t appear overnight, but you can still advocate for yourself and others through education and activism. Here are some additional ways you can support women and their wealth in your community.
About the Author
Briana Marvell is a content creator from Austin with interests in personal finance and housing. When she’s not at her desk, you can find her hiking with her dog, Miko, or diving into a new book.
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