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26 Feb 2020


Personal finance is one of the areas that have always been considered gender neutral. But, is it? The gender gap in economic opportunity is not closing quick enough. This means that women must work more than twice as hard as men to acquire similar amounts of wealth. According to the United Nations, 90 percent of women income is invested back into their families, compared with 35 percent for men.

We are working with 10% of our income to improve on our lives and secure better future for ourselves and the next generation. This is despite the fact that money issues impact more on women than they do on men. For starters, women on average live longer than men. The average life expectancy at birth stands at 67 years for males and 71.1 years for females. It makes sense for women to take financial planning and management much more seriously than men do.

Secondly, women have a shorter work life and are likely to take breaks throughout their work life. Maternity leave for one easily costs up to six months’ worth of income per child. Raising a child could mean extending the work break by another three years or permanently. What this means is that, women need to start building wealth very early in their lives by saving a higher portion of their income to provide for the time off work. Negotiation skills are also needed to get more flexibility at the current workplace to earn income during these breaks. It is important for women to constantly contribute to their retirement plans.

Married women tend to rely on their spouses for financial support. In cases of a separation or divorce, they are forced to start taking full control of their lives and in most cases their children too. It is a hard way to learn. Financial planning is a practical skill that needs to be sharpened throughout one's life.

Most single parents are mothers. Primary caregivers of children in single parent households are most likely to be women. Often, single mothers must manage with no financial support from the fathers of their children. When the law forces men to provide for their children, it is often inadequate financial support for the needs of the children. Women’s personal finance empowerment is never overrated.

Women earn lower income compared to men. Earning low income means lower contributions to pension and retirement funds. This is extremely limiting, especially when it comes to wealth building. One needs to make money in order to save money. As women, we need to start saving way early in our lives and save a larger portion of our income.

Not only are we earning less and spending more on our households, but we're also investing less than men do. The gender investment gap is a reality.

Finally, women need to up their game when it comes to claiming what they deserve. Negotiation skills are key to bridge the existing gap in salaries. They also need to pay themselves first through savings and investments. There is a need for intentionality in building wealth.

Author Mbini Kutta, a businesswoman and real estate investor. The article first appeared in an offline publication The Apple of His Eye.


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