Did you know that only 22% of U.S. women can answer three fundamental finance-related questions correctly?
It’s sad but true. While women have made significant strides to close the gender gaps in education, employment, and even wealth, the gap in financial literacy is still glaring. But, in order to even begin bridging this gap, it’s important to understand that women do hold power when it comes to money.
With International Women’s Day coming up on March 8th, this is an ideal time for women to take stock of their money and step up their financial knowledge. With that in mind, we can all learn from these 5 financial facts about women and money. Take a look.
1. Women hold the purse strings
The days of men bringing home the bacon while women cook and clean are over. Today, more than 40% of women in the U.S. are the primary breadwinners for their families. Another 22% are co-breadwinners alongside their spouses. Women also control more than 50% of the country’s personal wealth. This means women are expected to take charge of $22 trillion of the nation’s expected $44 trillion in total personal wealth by 2020.
Want some context? Twenty-two trillion could buy the entire Starbucks Corporation 280 times over. That’s a lot of purchasing power, and it’s about time we made the most of it.
2. Women are powerful business owners
Sheryl Sandberg, Lori Greiner, and Arianna Huffington are proof that women can be rockstars in business. And they aren’t the only ones. Research from First Round found that companies with a female owner performed 63% better than companies with all-male owners.
But, here’s the bad news: while women own over 30% of all private businesses in the U.S., female-owned businesses receive only four percent of all commercial loan dollars. And, according to Real Simple, only two to six percent of venture capital funding goes to women.
Luckily, you can help change this. For example, you can invest in women-owned businesses to help them grow and, if you’re a female small business owner, you can partner with a company like iFund Women to help you access funds via crowdfunding. IFundWomen also offers coaching services and fosters a community of women entrepreneurs. This in turn, empowers women to start and grow better businesses, says iFund Women Founder Karen Cahn.
3. Women are still paid less for the same work
Regardless of how you slice it, women continue to be paid less than men. A study by the National Women’s Law Center found that the wage gaps costs women more than $430,000 over the course of their careers. Given that the average worker in his sixties only has $172,000 saved for retirement, this loss of income is massive.
There are many reasons why this wage gap persists today, including the years women depart the workforce to raise children. But there is a way you can improve your own situation: ask for a raise.
Did you know women are less likely than their male counterparts to ask for a raise or promotion? This creates some of the wage and seniority gaps we see in the job market. It is time to research average pay for your position, highlight examples of your best work, and set a target salary. By speaking up for yourself, you can improve your own finances while helping to close the salary gap between men and women.
4. Women are better investors
But, take a look at the facts: women own more diverse portfolios, trade less often, incur fewer fees, and are less likely to panic sell in a downturn than men. According to studies, these smart moves mean that women annually earn between 0.4% and 1.0% more than men. This can result in 12% larger retirement nest eggs for women over a 30 year period.
At the same, in order for women to reap this retirement benefit, they have to actually invest. To this end, take a look at this fact: women invest less of their savings in the stock market than men but they hold more cash. This conservative tendency is both a blessing and a curse. While women still have higher investment returns than men, the wealth gap continues to grow as women to hold onto more cash.
5. Women face a longer retirement than men
If you’re a woman, hear this roar: you’ll likely need more money in your retirement than your husband, brother, or male friends.
That’s because American women today are expected to live five years longer than men. But that doesn’t paint the whole picture. Due to pregnancy and caregiving responsibilities, working women are out of the workforce for almost 15% of their working years, compared to less than two percent for working men. So, to accumulate enough money to retire, women need to save more money than men.
To get a jump-start, start saving right now and chipping away at your debt. And, here’s another pro tip for women: build an emergency fund as soon as possible and sock as much money away as you can into your retirement fund. By investing and saving up for your future self as soon as possible, you’ll build greater wealth over time.
Create the financial future you want
As you can see, women have come a long way financially. But we still have a long way to go to close the money knowledge gap. But, don’t get discouraged. Continue to educate yourself on financial matters, seek help from a friend or expert, and refer back to this story for money motivation.