When it comes to women’s wealth, and the history of money, most of us in Australia come a long way in the last fifty years but there’s still a long way to go.
According to the latest statistics the average Australian woman:
• Makes most consumer purchases
• Makes most financial decisions in the home
• Writes 80 per cent of all cheques
• Carries 76 million credit cards
• Owns 87 per cent of all homes
• Inherits 70 per cent of all estates at the average age of 56
Women also generates more than $2.5 trillion in annual revenues from more than 10 million female-owned businesses.
This list can go on, but you get the point and it’s a long way from where we’ve come.
Indeed it’s probably not a stretch to ask an older woman, or perhaps your grandmother about money in their past, and sometimes hear statements like this: “I can’t write a cheque, can’t use an ATM, or take out a loan, pay the bills.”
“I am powerless to buy, hold, or sell property, enter into contracts, or retain my own earnings.”
“My husband controls all my assets and calls all the financial shots.”
Today women have money, financial independence is increasing. We make more money, and inherit money. B
But, we’re still receiving the short-end of the economic and business stick!
• 47 per of women over the age of 50 are single. This is not a bad thing at all, it just means that financially you need to rely on you for everything. Unfortunately because of this fact and lower retirement incomes, women are more likely than men to retire in poverty.
• We retire with less money than men because women spend an average 15 years out of the workforce (compared to 1.6 years for men).
• 50 per cent of marriages end in divorce. The woman typically ends up with the children, so she now has financial responsibility for herself and the children. In the first year after a divorce, a woman’s standard of living drops an average of 73 per cent.
• Women live 7–10 years longer than men, and must provide for those extra years.
• The average Baby Boomer female (born between 1948 and 1964) remains in the workforce until age 74 due to inadequate financial savings and pension coverage.
• Of the elderly living in poverty, 3 out of 4 are women; and 80% of those women were not poor when their husbands were alive.
• Seven out of 10 women will at some time live in poverty.
Even though we have moved from dependence to independence and real economic power, there is still a long way to go.
There are certainly some external influences that hold women back, so here’s some questions to ask yourself:
1. Identify significant childhood events around money.
Recall and write down the money conversations in your family – for example, pocket money and allowances, arguments around money, who made financial decisions in the family, how you were taught the value of things, when you first had money of your own, and so on.
2. Recall positive childhood memories about money.
Recall and write down your most positive and exciting childhood memories about money – for example, spending on special treats, gifts of money you received, special occasions when your family spent money, and so on.
3. Recall negative childhood memories about money.
In the same way, recall and write down your most negative or painful childhood memories about money – for example, not being able to afford things you wanted, having less money than your friends, being teased about money, your parents asking friends and family for money, and so on.
4. Look for patterns that persist in your adult life.
Now compare your current money patterns with some of your childhood memories. Are there things you’re doing now that – even unintentionally – mirror your money patterns from childhood? Are there some positive habits worth acknowledging and reinforcing? Are there some negative behaviours you can stop right now because they aren’t serving you?
Even if you can’t change anything yet, doing this exercise will increase your self-awareness and help you understand the patterns of your money behaviour.