The Financial Literacy Foundation’s Women Understanding Money report revealed women have lower financial literacy levels and less savings than men. It found 52% of Australian women find dealing with money stressful and overwhelming and 25% of women have absolutely no savings for retirement. More recently a survey commissioned by ANZ found that 56% of women do not save money on a regular basis.
Women have all the talents to make them savvy and successful planners and investors for their future. However women have historically been excluded from the sphere of finance and been raised with the expectation that men will provide for them – so there are still some old attitudes that need to be shaken off before women experience total equality and independence in the arena of personal finance. The exciting fact is that women are the ones who can make this happen through our own pursuit of knowledge.
Some hard-to-believe facts from our not-so-distant history:
- Up until the 1960s women who worked as teachers or in other roles in the public service were forced to leave the workforce as soon as they were married.
- One woman we spoke to held a department store card in the early 1970s. After she was married the store cancelled her card and sought her husband’s permission before they would issue her with a new one.
- As recently as the 1970s a woman was unable to apply for a mortgage in her own name – she would have to do so under her father or husband’s name.
- The legal system has also had deeply entrenched attitudes about women’s reliance upon men for financial security. The “pretty widow” case was battled through the Australian courts in the 1990s. A judge gave a 25% reduction on an insurance claim awarded to a woman after her husband’s death because he said she was pretty and she had a good chance of finding another husband to support her (“the remarriage discount”). This decision was only overturned in the High Court in 2002.
How these historical attitudes affect us today:
- Women have lower rates of financial literacy, lower levels of saving and less superannuation than men.
- A research study conducted by the University of Technology, Sydney found women would dip into their superannuation savings if they could to spend it on children’s education, mortgage repayments or even holidays – rather than preserving it for their retirement income.
- Women’s lower levels of financial literacy has been compounded because sections of print and broadcast media with a high female audience are less likely to contain financial or investment information than sections with a predominantly male audience.
Why saving and investing is even more important for women:
- We live longer so we need to save even more money for retirement;
- We are more likely to have interrupted careers because of child raising or other caring responsibilities and this can significantly impact on our superannuation retirement savings; and
- We earn less than men – despite the equal pay and equal opportunity legislation women still earn less than men for the same work, and we make up 70 per cent of lower paid casual and part time workforce.
This text includes extracts from chapter 1 of Flirting with Finance
The good news
The Women Understanding Money financial literacy report found that women are more willing than men to seek further information and advice to fill the gaps in their financial knowledge.
The 10thousdandgirl Campaign has been created to make this pursuit good fun and to help you see how finance fits around your life plan.
The 10thousandgirl Campaign brings finance to life.