Women face greater financial long-term risks than men due to several factors. These factors include having a longer lifespan, needing to pay for medical expenses, loss of spouse, and gender pay gap.
Senior Wealth Advisor Sandy Higgins highlighted: “There are varied reasons for this gap, but what holds true are the statistics and cumulative impact of this on retirement savings.”
While the difference between the wages of men and women do not seem large to many, the results can be substantial over time. Thus, it is important for women to focus on their retirement plan. Consider the following tips.
#1: INCREASE YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Despite having a tendency of being more responsible with money, women were not allowed to open a bank account in their name before the 60s. Today, men are still regarded as the primary financial providers for their families.
Dance with the times by being educated on your finances. Brush up your knowledge on personal finance to get more confident as time passes.
#2: KNOW YOUR SPENDING HABITS
To grow your golden nest in the future, you must become aware of your shopping habits. Tracking your spending allows you to identify where your unnecessary and unplanned purchases happen. This way, you can modify it to achieve your retirement saving goals.
#3: PRACTICE BUDGETING
Always budget the expenses before signing a lease or making a major financial decision. It is important to recognize the full cost of your choices, including your rent or mortgage payment.
Experts say that the most common rule of thumb in housing is that your total housing costs should be no more than 30% of your gross monthly income. Stay as close to this amount as possible.
#4: GET READY TO RETIRE
A woman’s marital situation can affect her retirement plan. For instance, a woman may outlive her husband by several years depending on their age difference. Second marriages and stepchildren can also affect retirement planning.
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Structure a realistic and attainable retirement plan. Do not forget about your husband’s assets! Know which assets will be divided among you and your children once your spouse dies.
The spending and money management patterns of Singaporean men and women are intuitively different. But, if you surveyed people around on your own, you would realize that there are distinct differences between how these genders approach money. With that in mind, here are the common money mistakes women make and the essential financial steps they must take:
COMMON MONEY MISTAKES
1. OVERSPENDING ON CLOTHES AND MORE
According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, women take control of about 73% of the household spending. The control the wives have over the budget can lead to overspending. Overspending can occur in shopping for clothes, cleaning supplies, home decorations, bags, and more. This is why knowing when to save and when to splurge is an important distinction for financial security. Overspend only on products that are useful and long-lasting.
2. BEING FINANCIALLY DEPENDENT
Although more and more women are breadwinners nowadays, there are still a good number of women who are totally reliant on their husband’s income. This is bad because unforeseen events such as unemployment, divorce, and death can happen to anyone. Which is why women need to create and secure a financial future for themselves by having a career or skill they can depend on.
3. NOT PREPARING FOR LONGER RETIREMENT
Let us face the facts. Women outlive men on average and often remarry. This is why women should prepare for their additional years and long-term elderly care. It is always a good idea to be prepared.
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Financial independence starts by talking about finances comfortably. This will create a community of friend who can turn to each other for advice on money issues and investments. Also, getting comfortable in the S$ topics should be applied when you are talking to your financial advisor.
3. UNDERSTAND YOUR INVESTMENTS
Prepare for your retirement and emergency fund by prioritizing your investments. Save money on near term needs such as the emergency fund first then, move on to the long-term investments such as retirement fund. Since most women tend to be risk-averse, the more you are comfortable with talking about money, the more you will be able to take calculated risks.
In Singapore, the literacy rate among women aged 15 years and above is nearly 95 per cent and the female labour force participation rate has more than doubled from 25 per cent in 1965 to close to 60 per cent in 2014, according to Ms Sim, Minister of State for Communications and Information and Education.
However, women still have a long way to go in Singapore in achieving equality.
For instance, despite the high female literacy rate and labour participation rate, the 2015 Hays Asia Salary Guide found Singapore falling behind mainland China, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Barely a quarter – 27 per cent – of management roles are held by women here, below the Asian average of 29 per cent.
Singapore has plenty of room to catch up with China, the region’s diversity leader with 36 per cent of leadership roles in the mainland held by women.
Mr Adam Garrard, chief executive of Willis Asia, a leading global insurance broker, said women’s career growth and development continue to be stifled in the workplace here despite research showing it is in the financial best interests of firms to promote gender equality.
He cited research by consultancy McKinsey showing that companies in the top 25 per cent in terms of female representation on executive committees performed better than the rest. Furthermore, the financial performance metrics indicated that the return on equity was 47 per cent higher and pre-tax earnings were 55 per cent better than the median.
Traditionally, women have faced more challenges than men as they have child-bearing and rearing responsibilities that can set them back a few years in the corporate climb. And there are lingering perceptions of women being more emotional and mellow, rendering them less effective leaders.
However, in modern times, supporting social infrastructure has sprouted up to replace some of the conventional roles of women. The prevalence of domestic helpers has freed females from the typical duties of a homemaker and enabled women to focus on adding value to the organisation.
This role perpetuates inequity for women. Overcoming these obstacles to societal fairness is a means to achieving proper equality of the genders.
In other words, women should be given more – if not equal – opportunities for career progression to compensate for their “natural handicap”. This promotes equity between men and women, laying the bricks for a more equal society, where both genders can compete fairly and freely.
Many people may associate women with certain feminine traits such as empathy, sensitivity, and gentleness. These stereotypes may effectively dim the women’s prospects for development and promotion at some organisations.
Worse, such outdated views can be counter-productive and inimical to the organisation’s success as they fail to recognise the inordinate value that a diverse range of behavioural traits may offer – such as varied and insightful perspectives.
The significance of gender diversity is no different from racial diversity or religious diversity.
Having a good mix of people is imperative to understanding the real needs and wants of a globalised world through the formation of a microcosm. Businesses become better informed of the cultural and economic realities and make wiser decisions.
Women here are locked in a constant struggle to juggle work and family. Alleviating this situation would encompass managing the expectations of spouses, children, and parents-in-law.
Family members have to lend their collective support to the advancement of a women’s career.
However, this does not mean women should ignore family ties. Being career-driven is a respectable virtue, but women should still find time for quality interaction with their families.
Take the cases of Ms Stella Tan, chief executive of Tenet Sompo Insurance, and Ms Jacquelyn Goh, chief executive of another foreign insurer, RSA, in Singapore.
Ms Tan said the 30-minute car journey to school is vital to fostering closeness between her and her two children through informal conversations. Both women also acknowledged that their husbands are also very supportive of their key positions in their organisations.
Bosses also play a huge role in balancing the gender mix at all levels of their organisations.
From entry level up to the boardroom, bosses can provide more mentoring and networking opportunities to speed up the learning curve, develop critical soft skills, and build contacts for future collaboration and support.
A good example is the “Women at Willis” initiative at insurer Willis Asia, which seeks out and advances talent without restriction. Willis gathers the brightest women across the world every two years at its London headquarters to promote insightful dialogue and stronger links through a series of seminars and workshops.
Implementing gender mix legislation may be one of the best ways to kick-start the move towards greater gender diversity.
Singapore can probably learn from the success story of our neighbour, Malaysia, whose government has achieved the target of making women 30 per cent of the employees at decision-making level in the public sector.
Now, this goal is being extended to the private sector and is expected to be reached by 2016.
Such targets may be controversial. However, they push employers to groom talent, both female and male. This enables the exploitation of their full potential and their different but complementary capabilities and experiences that are required to sustain business growth in a dynamic and fast-changing world.
For all the efforts applied at the individual, corporate and government levels, it is essential to track the progress made to enhancing workplace gender diversity.
Many reports measure the representation of women on company boards, but more should be done to track and measure the number of women taking on senior executive or other management roles.
This would result in a better information flow of any improvements made to the socio-economic status of women and strengthen accountability at every level.
One way is to establish the 30 per cent club here. It already has a presence in the United States and Hong Kong.
The club is steered by a group of business leaders committed to achieving gender balance at all levels through running specific initiatives such as cross-company mentoring schemes aimed at mid-career women with high potential of succeeding to the senior level.
No easy feat
Promoting gender diversity needs universal support from men and women, in the same way as campaigns to promote racial diversity did.
Reckoning the benefits of gender diversity is the first step to changing the outmoded mindset that influences actions and behaviour. It is never too late to recognise and polish the hidden gems hoarded in women.
Evolution suggests that men are designed to hunt while women gather. Gender stereotypes also encourage females to stay at home and to take care of the off springs. But…times have changed.
More Women Work
Based on a study by Prudential Company in 2012, approximately 53% of the sample were women breadwinners while only 22% were married or living with a partner who made more than them. Furthermore, other research showed that about 70% of mothers with children aged 17 and under are in the workforce. And, those numbers are just in the United States. Global rise in dual-career bearer household have increased annually.
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This fact that women are working more nowadays is something both men and women are accepting. The younger generations were raised to empower equality in the household. Moreover, the quality of life is getting harder as economies fail. And so, there is a great need for both men and women to work regardless of gender stereotypes.
Impact on Marriage When She Makes More
On of the largest impact of this contemporary shift is that it may affect the dynamics of the marriage. Psychology argues that men’s view of the self is formed by his work and his drive to achieve. If that is the case then if the wife makes more, it will make him feel far more inferior and insecure.
To avoid that, Farnoosh Torabi, the author of “When She Makes More”, suggests that most couples assume that if one makes more then that person has more responsibilities in the house, which she firmly stands against. According to Torabi, a couple must constantly make a conscious effort to ask the partner about financial decisions and share it openly with each other. Furthermore she gave these two tips: give everyone’s money a meaning, and treat each other once in a while.
Ultimate Financial Goal
The most important financial goal for women is to have enough money to raise their family, and to maintain the same lifestyle in their retirement. This is why young women need to take steps toward understanding investing. When women avoid investing young, they are losing out on the one thing that knowledge cannot buy– time.
Who makes more than whom should not be a huge matter as the couple’s combined earnings will only benefit not only the both of them but also their children. Couples shall work together and communicated openly on financial decisions in order to share the emotional responsibilities and keep the balance in order.