The gender gap and financial literacy

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In 2011 Beyoncé asked the question: “Who runs the world?” to which the world echoed back “Girls!”. And since Beyoncé is basically the unofficial representative of The People, we’re inclined to listen to her.

In the era of #MeToo, but also eternal girl power, women have been re-writing their own narrative towards equality and what it means them. Record numbers of women are running for office, perusing careers in traditionally male-dominated fields, and leading the charge in important social issues—like the climate crisis.

And while women are more empowered than ever before, there are still areas where there is still a lot of ground to make up—like finances and financial literacy.

A 2019 study found women are on a downward trajectory when it comes to money and over half of participants wish they were more confident in their financial decision making. How can women from all backgrounds start to close that gap and become more confident in their finances?

Start small.

You don’t need to jump directly into filing your own taxes and tracking the stock market daily to be financially knowledgeable—you can’t and shouldn’t do it all. So, start small. And the best place to start? Making a budget. Once you start to understand your own money and where it’s coming from and going to, you might be surprised with how much power that knowledge brings. By grasping your personal finances, you’ll start to have a fulsome picture of your net worth and if you have the income to start tackling some of your short- and long-term goals.

If you’re in a relationship and your partner is the money guru of the family, have a conversation with them about your household funds and how you can take a more active role in keeping the finances running smoothly. You’re bound to pick up a few tricks and might even have new ideas for your partner on how to make your money work harder for you.

Ask for help.

Don’t get us wrong: being vulnerable is scary. Luckily, there are people whose entire job is dedicated to making you feel comfortable and to answer any and all questions you may have (and trust us, they’ve heard it all before). Financial experts are committed to helping you overcome financial barriers and make the most of your money.

Financial stress can take a significant toll on mental, physical, and emotional health, affecting all aspects of life. Sarah MacEachern, Acting Community Development Manager of the Canadian Mental Health Association, PEI Division, explains people don’t always realize extreme stress causes both mental and physical symptoms. “Two of the most common effects of financial stress are anxiety and depression. These go hand-in-hand and can sometimes be debilitating, affecting home life, work life, and social life,” Sarah explains. That’s why it’s important to seek expert advice—financial or otherwise—when and if you need it.

If you’re not ready to take your questions IRL, there are online tools & resources to help you dip your toes in the confusing world of money—like a glossary of financial terms or learning all your credit card has to offer.

Know your worth.

Budgeting is hard and talking about money is scary. Sarah stresses the importance of taking care of yourself and don’t cut out all your “treat yourself” moments—these are crucial to a healthy lifestyle, too.

Knowledge is power and every little bit you learn goes a long way to becoming financially stable and living a healthy, well-balanced life. And on average, women earn between 80–82 cents for every dollar a man earns, which is $9,308 less annually. Understanding your money and the economy will have an overall positive impact on your life as you continue to grow and make choices and changes.

If you’d like to take the next step in understanding your money and learning more, contact your local credit union.