Our mothers and grandmothers typically handled the household finances. They paid the bills, managed the shopping and haggled for the best deals. Yet when it comes to personal finances and investment, women are still not as likely to take the lead.
Massive generalisation? The research tells us it’s true. According to a 2016 report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, women have lower levels of financial literacy than men and are less confident in money matters. A 2012 YouGov survey also found that 58% of women claimed a good understanding of financial products, compared to 72% of men.
For millennial women, financial education wasn’t on the school curriculum. But we can’t always rely on our partners, our parents or our workplace pensions. We need to be in the know and, luckily, it’s never too late to take those first steps to managing your money properly without living a life of misery and solitude. At least, that’s what several women financial advisers told us.
Regardless of your pay bracket, there are steps you can take. First, pay off your debt as soon as you can, prioritising the loans with the highest interest rates. (Student debt interest rates depend on the year you graduate. Log in to your Student Loans Company account to check.)
The second step is to build up a cash buffer, and preferably not in your current account, so you won’t be tempted to spend it.
“Start talking about it as early as you can, rather than wait for it to become a problem,” advises Stephanie Hayter, acting chief executive at The Money Charity. “It links to our long-term goals and what we want to get out of life. It’s surprising how often people in relationships have different priorities in terms of their spending and don’t know how much their partner earns.”