Women Can Find Empowerment Through Financial Health! Part I

A few years ago, Sharita, a single mother with three children, was homeless and living in a motel after being evicted. “At the time, I was living paycheck-to-paycheck and had no savings, and my credit score plummeted because of the eviction and outstanding collections, credit, and medical debts,” explained Sharita in a Yahoo! News profile. “I knew that I could not give up because I had two children that deserved an address to call their own.”

Faced with unthinkable circumstances, Sharita began allocating a portion of her monthly earnings to savings, adhering to a basic budget, creating a process to rebuild her credit score, and slowly chip away at her debt. “I made up my mind to learn as much as I could about personal finance, credit, debt elimination, and saving,” said Sharita. “My children and I would go to the library as much as possible. I read personal development and finance books and began to write out my own goals.” With stories like Sharita’s, there is no better time than Women’s History Month and this last International Women’s Day to celebrate the challenges and victories for courageous women who set goals in financial health and celebrate their journeys in fulfilling them.

Empowering women throughout their financial health journey

Sharita is not alone when it comes to the challenges of financial literacy and education. Her courage to make that decision, however – to rise up, take drastic action, and persevere for a greater future – is cause to celebrate and take inspiration. The truth is that according to MetLife’s 17th Annual Employee Benefits Trend Study in 2019, women were more likely than men to live paycheck-to-paycheck (44 percent vs. 55 percent, respectively) while feeling less confident about their finances compared to men (55 percent vs. 70 percent).

When talking about multitasking, women dominate the market. As wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, or friends, women excel. According to Pew Research Center, 2019 marked the first year women are nearly in the majority of the college-educated labor force.

Despite the significant advances made in the last 40-plus years, income disparities still exist between men and women. Even as the wage gap diminished in the years since 1980, women still earn just 84 percent of what men earn, according to a 2020 Pew Research analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers. Women also tend to be less participatory in their own financial lives overall, which can lead to challenges when regulating investing and savings habits down the line. Developing a more consistent and disciplined awareness of one’s own financial well-being isn’t just a simple shot of self-esteem; Women who have conditioned themselves to take a direct and active role in their financial health decisions and goal setting will enable themselves to make the necessary adjustments required to meet those goals when the time comes.

Improve Your Personal Financial Health

It’s interesting that when discussion about women’s health arises – particularly during Women’s History Month, no less! – people seem to be more likely to default to PHYSICAL health; how caring for our physical and mental selves allow us to feel as close to optimal as possible. After all, with a projected beauty and personal care market volume of $87,987,000 in 2022 and growing to $99,474,000 in 2026 per Statista, much more cultural focus is paid to that area of our lives. However, a more nuanced and honest discussion may also include areas of personal finance and financial health. In fact, a joint study by BlogHer and Chase Slate in 2018 found 94 percent of respondents felt their well-being was directly linked to financial health. Fifty percent of women in the study said they experienced health issues because of financial stress. That said, 98 percent – that’s right, 98 percent – said they wanted to improve their financial health. They WANT to improve their financial situation, but what if they simply don’t know how, or don’t know where to start?

Next week, we will discuss five steps to guiding yourself down the path to improved financial health.

(Partially reprinted from www.cuinsight.com and qcashfinancial.com)

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