As the author of the Financy Women’s Index, I am obsessed with how women are progressing financially and what makes some excel and have a greater sense of wellbeing over others.
I’ve discovered there are seven things, not six as I previous thought, that are critical to a woman’s financial progress. Each of these areas need attention and I strongly recommend tackling one per day – yes take a full week do to it!
Here’s what to look at and what to think about as you map your own road to financial progress.
“I’m a big believer in, you earn what you learn and that education should be an area of continuous reflection and attention.”
If you’re not currently studying, the time couldn’t be better to kickstart your education. With a range of government subsidised or free TAFE and tertiary courses available as part of the Higher Education Relief Package, you can boost your qualifications at a significantly lower cost than usual.
Outside of formal qualifications, there are scores of opportunities to upskill at little or no cost to you. These include webinars, mentoring, volunteering or something as simple as reading a book on a new area you’re wanting to learn about.
“It’s a really good time to be asking yourself; Where do I want to go when the recovery happens?”
By employment, we’re referring to paid work. The workforce has shifted significantly these past months and it hasn’t been a good start to the year for women.
Set time aside to do an audit of your individual employment and how your current situation sits with you. Things to as yourself include:
Where is my income coming from?
Am I satisfied with what I’m doing in my career?
Is work leading true to yourself and making you feel good?
Make a plan and address the things you could adjust in your current workplace in order to ensure you’re satisfied such as increasing your flexibility, being involved in a new project or working from home.
Keep an optimistic mindset on ‘where to next’ and focus on setting a clear objective, centered around how it sits for you at this particular point in time with the goal of improving it to achieve greater financial and mental job satisfaction.
“It is time to ask yourself. Are you charging enough and am I being valued.”
You might be thinking “Aren’t wages the same as employment?”. While closely linked, it’s worthwhile to think of wages as where the money comes from and how you value your worth. There is a wealth of research out there that indicates women don’t put themselves forward for pay rises enough and that we undersell ourselves more-so than men.
IF YOU’RE SELF-EMPLOYED
Consider whether you could be charging more and check you are charging accurately for the scope of work. Perhaps you are exceeding hours within a set project? If it is justified, make the conscious effort to address this with your client. If you’re running your own business review your offering and see if there are opportunities to value-add to your existing product.
IF YOU’RE WORKING FOR A COMPANY
Consider what is your pathway and future direction in the business. Is there a need right now to be earning more money? If we link back to education, up-skilling and showing initiative for self-improvement will place you in a much stronger position to negotiate your wage with your employer.
IF YOU’RE UNEMPLOYED
We have seen rising numbers of unemployment as a result of COVID-19. Investigate what government subsidies or support payments are available to keep your financial position afloat. This could be rent relief, mortgage deferral, child care subsidy or unemployment benefits – take the time to see what you might be eligible for. As Bianca notes, “Government assistance is absolutely critical to so many people’s livelihoods right now, the value of it cannot be underestimated”.
4. Unpaid work
“One of the biggest barriers to women’s financial progress is unpaid work.”
If you feel like you are up to your ears in unpaid work, you’re not alone! This is something I look at closely in the Financy Women’s Index and continue to monitor due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even prior to COVID-19, women were more likely to be taking on more unpaid work in order to be the primary carers for their children.
To address this area, ask yourself the question: How much unpaid work do I do, to the extent that it prevents me from doing paid work? Take into account housework, primary caring and supervisory caring.
You might want to consider the value (time and monetary) of outsourcing certain tasks and find a balance that works best for your individual circumstances. If you’re in a dual-income home, have conversations around the balance of unpaid work and consider the value of any adjustments not solely from a financial perspective, but also a mental health perspective.
“Leadership looks different today. You can lead in part-time roles. You can lead from home. You can share leadership.”
Currently only 31.3% of ASX 200 Board directors are women, according to OpenDirector.com.au. I believe the step to balancing the numbers lies in having more women in senior management, C-Suite and CEO positions. That, and thinking about leadership differently – with a recent example at Environmental Justice Australia where they appointed two women to the joint role of CEO.
Many women have ambitions to hold a position of leadership and while the path there isn’t always clear, try write down where you want to go as a leader, identify who you can be learning from as a leader and ask ‘where to next’? These simple questions will help you proactively evolve as a leader.
Remember, taking time out of the workforce doesn’t have to mean you can’t come back in a part-time capacity and achieve that senior leadership position. Build your roadmap to leadership by having a plan, being vocal about it and investing time energy in continual learning and education.
With early access to superannuation becoming available as a result of COVID-19, now more than ever it is vital that women reassess their current superannuation situation.
Whether you’ve utilised the early super release or not, it is vital to spend some time focussing on developing a superannuation plan for post-COVID. Three things to think about when it comes to your superannuation:
1. SALARY SACRIFICE INTO SUPERANNUATION
Can you be electing to have a portion of your salary added to your super? This can be arranged through your employer, so consider how much more could you potentially be adding each week.
If you’re running your own business, how much are you contributing? Aim to be diligent with regular contributions and where you can, if you can, add a little bit more to your super.
2. SPOUSAL SUPERANNUATION CONTRIBUTION
Did you know that your partner can contribute to your super? For women who may be working reduced hours or currently on maternity leave this can be a great option to allow your superannuation to continue growing. Take the time to have the conversation with your partner, especially if you are the primary carer.
3. CONSOLIDATE AND SWITCH YOUR SUPERANNUATION FUNDS
This is one of the simplest ways to boost your superannuation. To make sure that you don’t have superannuation across multiple providers follow the myGov steps to consolidate these into one account.
Given that on average, women retire with around 31% less superannuation than men, making minor adjustments to your individual super situation can give you a much better chance of increasing the long-term health of your superannuation.
This is the area we often forget when it comes to our financial progress but it is so critical to activating change.
Consider where do you stand with your health? In order to keep your financial progress moving, it is essential to ensure you’re in good health to minimise the burden on your potential.
Think about any health checks that might need to be done, your diet and things that you might have been putting off. For me, finding balance and feeling healthy (giving up drinking and caffeine) has been absolutely critical in being capable of making smart and considered financial decisions.
While this may seem overwhelming, don’t attempt to tackle all these at once – work on one area each day and before you know it you’ll have set yourself up with the best chances of future financial progress!
If you’d like to hear more on health and getting on top of yours, I recently spoke on this issues in greater detail at The Drop In, which is free online women’s health community.