A recent Money-stress Tracker survey by DebtBusters, a leading debt counselling company, has revealed that women are more stressed about their finances, home and work life, and health, than men. Women are 30% more likely to be concerned about their health as a result of financial stress, and 20% more anxious about paying their debt each month.
“These findings are not surprising when one considers the factors affecting women’s finances. The odds remain stacked up against them, despite legislation promising equal rights,” says JustMoney.co.za Marketing Manager Shafeeka Anthony.
“In many cases, gender stereotypes and traditional social norms still limit access to education and jobs. Women’s home responsibilities are often undervalued and unpaid. Years taken off for childbearing, and caring for children, mean fewer years in the job market.
“More men work in higher-paid industries such as finance, and fewer women attain senior, better-paid positions.”
Life expectancy at birth as of 2022 is estimated at 60 years for males and nearly 66 years for females, according to Statistics South Africa. Living longer, and being paid less, means that women are more likely to run out of retirement savings.
According to Statista, women headed 42% of South African households in 2021. This is particularly prevalent in predominantly rural areas, and highlights the fact that many women do not have spousal financial support.
The United Association of South Africa, a trade union, says there is a median gender pay gap of 23%-35% between men and women in South Africa. The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the time projected to close this gap from nearly 100 years to around 136 years.
“While these statistics are depressing, there is much to be said for making the most of what you have,” says Anthony. “Financial freedom has different meanings for different people, but fundamentally the goal is to be able to focus on what matters most to you, without constantly worrying about money and debt.”
This Women’s Month, JustMoney offers the following tips to women, to take financial control:
- Determine what financial freedom means to you, and what your goals are. Consider how you would like to live your life, while taking your family’s needs into consideration.
- Speak to a financial adviser for objective, holistic advice.
- Draw up, or update, your will.
- Aim to have an emergency savings account that will cover your expenses for at least three months.
- Having accumulated emergency savings, invest with the aim of making your money grow by buying assets such as shares or property. Take financial advice from a reputable professional, put a plan in place, and automate transfers into your investment every month.
- Draw up a budget. List the items and services you cannot do without, and check how much they cost. Ensure the list is complete and stick to it. Avoid expensive brands and impulse buys if you can’t afford them.
- Prioritise paying off debt, particularly high-interest debt such as credit cards.
- Check your bank statements monthly. Ensure that payments are going through and look out for extra costs or unusual charges.
- Ensure that you have sufficient life insurance in place, in case disaster strikes.
- Don’t try to compete with others.
“Attaining financial freedom is not easy, particularly when caring for your family,” says Anthony. “Taking control of money matters can be challenging if you have not previously been involved in financial affairs. Many women who are working also feel obliged to help family members who are struggling.
“Nonetheless, Women’s Month is a reminder to make a start, even if you have only a little money to work with. It makes a difference to both your finances and your health to know that you have a plan in place to address money crises and your retirement in the longer term.
“If you are struggling with debt, speak to a reputable debt counsellor who will help you to assess your situation and draw up a plan to address it.”
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Issued by Meropa Communications