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Financial pressures affecting women and men differently

A new study finds women are feeling financial pressures more so than men, with higher living costs starting to hurt the vulnerable.
September 19, 2023

A new study has revealed the stark behavioural differences between men and women when it comes to financial pressures in the current economic environment.

The research by the Australian Retail Credit Association and YouGov found that women are less confident than men in their financial future for the next 12 months and in their financial futures more broadly. Women are also far more likely to characterise themselves as struggling or losing control of their financial health.

The study comes as the Minutes of the latest Reserve Bank board meeting show that the cash rate could still rise above the current 4.1% should inflation prove more persistent than expected. This would put added pressure on mortgage holders at a time when higher food, fuel and energy prices are already having a huge impact on daily living and financial choices for many households.

The study found that more women are feeling financial pressures than men, with 53% of women experiencing this compared to 47% of men.

Of those experiencing financial stress, more were likely to be married or in a de facto relationship, with kids under the age of 18 at home.

In response to these findings, Elsa Markula, CEO of the Australian Retail Credit Association said her take on the research was how important it is for people to seek help to manage financial pressures.

“The key message is the importance of reaching out for help: to lenders, financial counsellors, mental health professionals, or family and friends.

“A recurring observation in the lives of the women around me (myself included) is the disproportionate responsibility we often shoulder in managing various aspects of life.  We somehow manage to juggle busy work lives, family commitment, together with the mental load that comes from running households and raising children. This often includes keeping household finances in check – making sure bills are paid, and there’s money for groceries, school fees and other bills.

“Juggling these responsibilities can be incredibly stressful and draining – even on a good day! Now with the cost-of-living crisis, these everyday stresses are being super-charged. The soaring cost of groceries alone is enough to cause anxiety, add in rising gas and energy bills, as well as rent or mortgage increases, and the pressure can feel quite overwhelming.

“Trying to solve financial pressure when you don’t have the tools you need, or the confidence to ask for help, is likely to compound your financial stress not alleviate it,” she said.

The research also revealed that far more women than men will try and improve their financial situation themselves, rather than reaching out for help.

“When we’ve been doing the juggle for so long, and carrying much of the load without complaint, it can be hard to even work out where to begin.

“It’s crucial to understand that financial stress can have an enormous impact on mental health. In turn, when you’re experiencing depression and anxiety, it can be even more difficult to reach out for help.

“Drawing from the experiences of the women in my life, it’s evident we’re a resilient bunch and receptive to dealing more effectively with financial stress with some simple and easy to digest messages. Feeling empowered and nutting out a path which makes life easier, rather than adds to the burden, can make a huge difference,” said Ms Markula.

Financy writes about gender financial equality, diversity and inclusion. We also provide the software, Impacter which makes DEI performance easy and accessible for business. We also publish the quarterly Financy Women’s Index report which measures timeframes to equality in Australia. To stay up to date with us, subscribe to our newsletter.

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September 19, 2023
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