Women and financial wellbeing

Recent headlines have shown that Covid-19 outcomes are far poorer for those living in disadvantaged areas, proving the strong connection between money and health. On top of that, our financial wellbeing (which refers to the amount of control we feel over financial future and our relationship with money) is closely linked to our mental and social wellbeing, as well as our physical health. People worrying about money are 880% more likely to have sleepless nights and 470% more likely to be depressed. A vicious cycle exists where worrying about money can worsen health and wellbeing and poorer wellbeing can make managing money harder. Interestingly, this is not confined to low earners but also to those who are higher paid. If you consider that financial wellbeing has declined dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic it is obvious that many people are in for a rocky ride.

And it is women who are worse off

Even before COVID-19, studies have found that women have less money, and they worry more about it. A PwC Employee Financial Wellbeing report based on data from January 2020 found that, if out of work for an extended period, only half as many women as compared to men would be able to meet basic expenses. Meanwhile the 2019 Employer’s Guide to Financial Wellbeing found that 41% of women worried about money, compared to 32% of men(despite no significant difference in approach to saving).

Much has already been written regarding the way women have been disproportionately financially affected by the pandemic. They are more likely to work in an affected sector of the economy (such as tourism, retail and hospitality). They are also more likely to bear the brunt of childcare and home education, as well as caring for elderly or vulnerable relatives, while attempting to juggle their day job at the same time. As a result, they get through one hour of paid work for every three done by men, are more likely to be furloughed and to be made redundant. Single parents (90% of whom are women), pregnant women and new mothers, the self-employed, women claiming benefits and childcare workers have all been especially hard hit. And any progress made towards correcting the gender pay gap seems to have been halted in its tracks since the lockdown started. A recent government infographic depicting the women of a lockdown household doing housework and caring for children while a single man lounges on a sofa seems to say it all. It has since been hastily retracted after complaints flooded in but the impression it gave befits the reality on the ground, which is that the pandemic has made existing inequalities worse for many women.

How can women improve their financial wellbeing?

The tendency of most women to prioritise families over their finances should not have to come at such a high price. Their focus on the health, wellbeing (and now even the education) of children and others they care for should be rewarded and recognised as the ‘key work’ it is for the future progress of our society. It’s impossible to put a value on what that’s worth. Until such utopian time as that happens, what can women do to improve their situation?

  • First, understand what financial wellbeing is. Essentially, it means the options you feel are open to you in the future and how much control you have over them, as well as your spending, borrowing and saving habits and how they make you feel. Interestingly, your financial wellbeing is directly linked to these habits rather than to your earnings. Talking about money can be incredibly emotive and difficult but to evaluate our finances effectively you need to first confront any shame or guilt that could be getting in the way.
  • Embark on a financial education: acquire the knowledge and tools to understand your finances and options available to you.
  • Be aware of key moments in your life that have implications for your future financial security and take practical steps to understand your financial status and needs at those times. Insuring Women’s Futures, a programme set up to increase women’s financial resilience, highlights 6 significant periods to be aware of:
  1. Growing up/studying/requalifying
  2. Entering/re-entering the workplace
  3. Relationships (making and breaking up)
  4. Motherhood/becoming a carer
  5. Retirement/later life
  6. Ill health, infirmity and dying
  • Even though just 7% of employees say they feel they can talk openly to their employer about money problems, employers have indicated that they know financial wellbeing is a priority. Take the plunge and attempt open and honest conversations with those you need to – whether it’s your partner or your boss. Money needs to stop being such a taboo subject.
  • Consider seeing a financial coach whether on your own or with your partner– to help you set up a framework for successful communication with each other and others about money. Such coaches cannot on their own necessarily provide effective treatment for anxiety, depression or other mental health issues for which you may need to see a therapist.
  • Many financial coaches work in conjunction with professional financial advisers/planners who can help you make informed choices regarding managing overspending, keeping on top of debt and expenses, and making sure you have a financial ‘cushion’ for those unforeseen events.
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to change everything at once, set achievable goals for the short term initially and then set longer term goals.
  • Focus on where you (and your family, if applicable) want to be to enjoy life, both now AND in the future.

 

Financial wellbeing is one of the four pillars of wellbeing which contribute to the overall wellbeing of an individual.

Our programmes to support employee wellbeing include comprehensive advice and information on a wide range of financial related topics.

Our panel of experts have been specially selected to offer the best possible advice and information to make a difference to the lives of employees.

 


Your Employee Wellbeing works with businesses to support the wellbeing of their employees. Focusing on dealing with life’s challenges we are here to help your employees

We do this through our bespoke programmes for larger businesses and through our new service PC Employee Care for smaller businesses with up to 100 employees.

Get in touch to see how we can help.

info@youremployeewellbeing.co.uk  |  020 8979 6453

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