How We Can All Help Grow Women’s Financial Wellbeing
Research shows women rate their financial wellbeing, retirement preparedness, literacy and confidence lower than men do. But things are changing, and there are actions we can all take to help improve this, writes Clarissa Hirst.
18 December 2022
What’s the problem?
Sixty-two per cent of Kiwi women do not feel prepared for retirement. What’s more, around 80 per cent of us rate our financial wellbeing as moderate, low or very low, according to Financial Services Council research.
Now, you could put some of this down to our perceptions of our own financial wellbeing, but there is real hard data that suggests more is at play here.
The statistics about women and money in New Zealand are sobering. Forgive me if you’ve heard all this before, but just in case you haven’t, let’s take a look at a few of them:
- Women earn 9 per cent less than men (and the gender pay gap is greater for Asian, Māori and Pasifika women).
- On average, women retire with 20 per cent less in KiwiSaver than men.
- The cost of motherhood on our retirement savings balances is as much as $318,000.
When we’re not employed, our work as carers, child-bearers and mothers does not warrant employer or government contributions towards our KiwiSaver. When we are working, we’re paid less. We may have come a long way, but we’re still missing out.
The good news is that more women are starting to take charge of their finances. Female-led financial platforms, projects and content are gaining momentum.
The same research that revealed we rate our financial wellbeing quite low also shows we’re investing, saving and taking an active role in our finances. Some of Aotearoa’s most innovative fintech platforms such as Sharesies and Banqer were founded by women who have been leading the charge in creating financial education that is accessible to all.
Girls That Invest, founded by two Kiwi women of colour, made it to the #1 business podcast in the US, was featured in Vogue, has over 3000 Masterclass students in over 60 countries, and 161K Instagram followers.
On a more anecdotal level, I used to only talk about money stuff with my dad, partner, brother and male friends, but I’m now regularly chatting about personal finance with other women.
I also recently finished up leading a three-month, pan-sector campaign for the Financial Services Council called It Starts With Action, which sought to grow women’s financial wellbeing. Events and activities were held all over the country; conversations about money were had in workplaces, communities and homes; and at the time of writing we’d managed to reach over 1.6 million New Zealanders with empowering messages about women and money.
Clearly, women aren’t uninterested; we’ve just been left behind. The examples above show that we’re definitely starting to catch up, but there’s still more to be done to close the gaps that exist.
What can you do?
Now, you might think solving the gender pay gap or retirement inequity are too big for one person to tackle. But small actions can compound, and the more individuals do their bit to empower each other, the more financially confident women we’ll have who eventually (and hopefully) will be living in a world where everyone has the same opportunities.
Here are some ways you can do your bit:
- Talk to your daughter, niece or granddaughter about money and help her get into good money habits.
- Sit down with your partner and talk about your financial goals.
- Ask a friend who’s expecting how she’s preparing for an addition to the whānau.
- Recommend a personal finance podcast to a woman in your life. My personal favourites are Cooking the Books, It’s No Secret and The OneUp Project.
- Put your money where the wāhine are. Just as you can choose to invest in funds or companies that are leaders in sustainability, so too can you put your money into funds or companies that support women, that put women in leadership roles, and that have women actively involved in making investment decisions.
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