Women have faced an uphill battle for financial independence, equal pay and equal treatment for centuries, and although things are getting better, there’s still more to do. To mark International Women’s Day on the 8th March, a survey was conducted on 1,089 women in the United Kingdom to find out what financial advice they would give to themselves if they were able to go back in time.
The women who took part in this survey were classified into two generations; 18 to 44 years old and 45 years and over. It’s clear from the results of the survey that with greater age comes greater clarity in financial decision making. Thankfully, younger generations of women can benefit from this advice and knowledge to help them make better financial decisions in the future.
1. Avoid getting into debt and live within your means
For the majority of women in the UK (65% of those surveyed), avoiding getting into debt in the first place and living within your means is considered to be the number one financial priority. Debt can be unavoidable, but unnecessary and excessive consumer credit should be questioned and avoided, as excessive consumer debt can limit long term wealth creation.
Our advice? Be mindful when making purchases; consider if you really need to buy something and whether you can afford it. Only use credit if your purchase is essential and you can’t pay for it outright. Always be mindful of the monthly repayments and the interest charged.
2. Start saving money from a younger age, the earlier, the better
Over 63% of women surveyed said that saving money earlier in their life was beneficial, as they earned more interest over a longer period of time. This isn’t just something that older generations have come to realise later in life; it’s a consistent realisation among many generations of women. Hesitating to begin saving could mean missing out on a lot of interest.
How should I start saving? Just get started. There’s never a perfect time to
start saving, and waiting will only lower the amount of interest you will earn over the years. If you save money at an interest rate of 7% per annum, you would double your savings in 10 years if the interest compounds.
3. Small savings and investments can add up over the long term
The benefits of saving small amounts of money and creating little investments are often overlooked, but over time this can be an excellent way to create long term wealth. Over half of the women surveyed (53%) deemed this to be an important aspect of their finances, showing that a substantial amount of wealth can be created even from small investments.
How to get started? Small savings lead to more significant savings, and in the long run, they can grow into a substantial amount of money. You could make a start with the £2 challenge, where you put every £2 coin from your loose change into a piggy bank. It doesn’t sound like much, but given enough time, you would be surprised by how much you can accumulate doing this.
4. Avoid unnecessary costs, such as subscription services
Avoiding unnecessary costs, such as subscription services and memberships, could make a big difference to your finances, especially if you pay for services you rarely use. 44% of women surveyed were aware that they could make small but important savings by axing non-essential monthly costs.
Our advice? Keep an eye on automatically renewing subscriptions to avoid price increases and cancel subscriptions that you don’t need or use. It’s also worth shopping around and using price comparison websites to find the best deals on things such as phone contracts or gym memberships.
5. Be financially independent and don’t rely on others
46% of women agree that being financially independent and not relying on other people is important. Women sometimes depend on others for financial help, especially for significant life events such as having children. While some expenses cannot be avoided, planning for the unexpected can help you maintain financial independence.
What should you do? To avoid becoming financially dependent on another person, try to think of issues that could arise in the future and plan your finances accordingly.
6. When it comes to money and your partner, listen to your head, not your heart
From the results of our survey, it’s clear that women are aware that love is capable of clouding your judgement when it comes to your finances and your partner. This view is held more strongly in the older generation, perhaps due to having more experience.
Our advice? Think carefully about joint financial decisions with your partner. These decisions could affect you both in the long term. As much as you don’t want to consider it, you don’t want to be left out in the cold financially should your relationship come to an end.
7. Think carefully about financial decisions and don’t be influenced by the wrong people
39% of women in the UK say that they don’t let others influence their decisions when it comes to their finances. While it can be beneficial to ask for a second opinion or be open to suggestions, consider whether the person giving advice knows enough about the situation.
What can you do? When asking for somebody’s advice, take it with a pinch of salt and allow yourself the time to consider your thoughts and feelings. You can also find impartial advice online through the Money Advice Service and independent finance blogs, which may help you better understand the financial implications of your decisions.
8. Become a better negotiator by being more courageous
One contributing factor towards the gender pay gap is the fact that men tend to be better negotiators than women. Women will often start negotiations at a much lower number than men. It’s also worth noting that the gender pay gap is larger for graduates, and male graduates can often end earning up to 20% more than female graduates.
How should you negotiate? Start from a strong position; it’s difficult to increase your pay if you start with a lower figure. As difficult as it can be, it pays to be more confident and courageous from the get-go. You should also feel comfortable asking for more if you are changing jobs, especially when taking on more work or responsibilities.
9. Save money with the help of coupons and offers
At least 33% of women from both generations agreed that it’s a good idea to use coupons and take advantage of offers where possible to save some money. After all, everybody loves a discount, and as the old saying goes; “a penny saved is a penny earned”.
Our advice? Take a look at websites such as HotUKDeals for discounts and coupons that can save you money on everything from groceries to takeaways and electrical items. It’s worth buying certain things in bulk if there are special offers on, but be sure to check against the regular sale price as some supermarket discounts are not as good as they first seem!
10. Have a goal and purpose for saving
Our tenth and final financial tip for women is to have a goal and purpose for saving money. Coming up with a goal and knowing exactly why you’re saving money will help you stick to it and achieve it.
Our recommendation? Having a specific goal in mind will make saving easier, and it will also make you more accountable. You’ll feel like you have achieved something when you reach that goal, making the process enjoyable.
About this study
The data used for this article is based on a survey by YouGov, consisting of 2,115 participants (1,026 men and 1,089 women) aged over 18 years old. The survey was conducted between 28 February 2020 and March 2 2020.