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About women and money – International Women’s Day

I recently discussed money management with a close friend who is a senior manager at her workplace. From our conversation it transpired, she is totally oblivious to the cost of an average weekly grocery bill, and didn’t even know the state of her personal bank account.

Needless to say I was blown away by this discovery.

She began her career as a bank clerk, and slowly climbed the ladder landing senior roles in the public sector. I couldn’t help wonder how a senior manager, responsible for large budgets, had no idea when it comes to managing her own budget.

Financial literacy amongst women, in Israel (and worldwide), is far from adequate. Studies show that financial literacy, a sense of security in financial knowledge, and awareness concerning the significance of savings are lower amongst women. Women have lower financial literacy than men, however they actually know more than they think.

 

This verdict has been found to be valid across the globe and women of all backgrounds and ages struggle to earn enough and plan for their retirement. In all seriousness there is no tangible difference between the genders when it comes to capability in managing budgets, or monitoring financial situations, however discrepancies have been revealed in favor of men, in their ability to plan long-term finances, select financial products and remain informed.

In the labor market, women earn less and have fewer opportunities.   Comparable to many modern countries, salaries, professional status and promotion channels are for the most part higher for men, even amongst those with comparable education levels, experience and skill sets. On average women live longer and most will be left to manage their own finances at some point. They start saving at a later age, reflected in solid investment decisions due to a reluctance to assume higher risks.

These trends leave women responsible for their future, thus savings are an essential factor in their wellbeing. Generally speaking, women are inclined to prioritize family savings over personal savings. In their single years and like men, women invest in long term savings, yet once they engage in married life equal opportunities are somewhat demoralized after which many women are able save less than men. This may also be reflected in lower retirement savings since married women tend to rely more on their partner’s retirement saving schemes.

Statistical facts demonstrate that a vast majority of women encounter difficulties when it comes to managing their own money. Even amongst the educated, and employed in high-ranking roles, similar to my own close friend, women somehow keep astray from personal money management. What can we do to change this? How can we help empower women towards financial freedom?

I call upon all women to step up to the plate and assume responsibility. Do not wait till times of crisis. Show an interest, get involved, initiate, ask questions, make a budget, keep a record of your spending. Information is readily available to all. Make a plan for wiser use of your income. The power to make good spending and saving choices is yours. Set a personal example to younger generations. They watch and learn from us, and experiencing a mother, aunt or grandmother negotiating for a lower commission or demanding a justified benefit is likely to influence and instill the strength in knowledge, assertiveness, confidence and financial independence. We advise anyone in need to explore Paamonim’s website, or seek help at all times.

About the Author
Sharon Levin has an M.A. in Public Policy and is a certified Group Facilitator. She has worked for Paamonim since 2009, lead roles include Regional Director responsible for Paamonim's volunteers who provide free one-on-one financial counseling. As Director of Group Activities, she headed the establishment of Paamonim College for Financial Education, offering courses, programs, and lectures teaching financial fundamentals to participants, all geared towards helping people acquire financial education for better living.
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