There are plenty of great things about being a woman. Financial prosperity isn’t one of them. That’s if you believe the data collated from a number of studies, which suggest that women have far less financial resilience than men. From debt and savings to income and pensions, women of all ages tend to be worse off than their male counterparts.
So what’s the cost of arbitrarily lacking a Y chromosome?
And how can you better protect yourself from financial risks?
Young adults with spiraling debts
The average total of debt among 15-24-year-olds grew more than 200% between 2006 and 2012. That’s more than 10-times faster than the average debt of the wider population, trapping young adults in the red. Research by The Chartered Insurance Institute suggests women are less prepared than men to cope. 18-24-year-old women are less confident than men when it comes to managing money (37% vs 48%) and more likely to worry about money (57% vs 45%).
Student debt – levels of which doubled between 2011 and 2017 – is totemic of the bigger picture. In many public sector professions – such as teaching, social work and healthcare – women take 13 years longer than men to clear their student loans, with outstanding total debts of between £29,000 and £49,000 not uncommon up to 30 years after graduation. Most people go to university to enhance their career prospects and earning potential. For that ‘privilege’ female students are subject to the same tuition fees as male students.
So you would expect some semblance of parity in the employment market after graduation, wouldn’t you?
The great divide: exploring the gender pay gap
They say you get what you deserve; the gender pay gap says otherwise. Figures from the Office for National Statistics put the national average median gender pay gap in the UK at 18.4%. Read that again: 18.4%. The disparity between male and female income isn’t a gap, it’s a yawning chasm.
Male employees are paid more than female employees in 7,795 out of 10,016 companies and public bodies in Britain, based on median hourly pay. Women are drastically underrepresented in top-paid jobs across almost every sector. In short: the highest-paid jobs are typically filled by men.
So it’s understandable that as well as having more debt, women aren’t saving as much as men. The average ISA value for women aged between 25 and 34 is 83% (£5,118) of the average value for men (£6,180). Bigger debt, smaller savings: without careful management the month-to-month effects of that can become compounded across an entire lifetime.
Women are critical to household income
And yet women make up almost half of the UK workforce and make a critical financial contribution to their households. Research by Canada Life suggests that around 49% of UK households are at risk of losing as much as £25,000 a year or more should the woman of the house (aged 25-45) fall ill and become unable to work.
On top of their financial contribution is the fact that women tend to take the lead role in responsibilities like childcare, school runs and domestic duties. These are tasks that would cost the household money were they not taken care of personally. In a study by Scottish Widows, 74% of women in families said their household would struggle to pay household bills and complete everyday responsibilities if they fell ill.
The government’s statutory sick pay is just £89.35 per week. It’s why income protection is so important. Yet 50% of UK women aged between 25 and 45 have never even considered the need for a financial safety net.
Protect your present, build for your future
Income protection covers a share of your income if you are unable to work through illness or injury. For instance, PG Mutual policies cover up to 70% of your income while you take the time to recover – without the added burden of financial anxieties. We pay every eligible claim, and over the last three years, 98% of all claims have been eligible. And as a mutual society we pay profits back to our policyholders in the form of a nest egg that builds throughout their policy. Find out more at pgmutual.co.uk.
Even retirement can be more expensive for women…
That nest egg may come in handy. Saving for retirement is increasingly difficult. 59% of 18-34-year-olds are concerned about not having enough money when they retire. And 52% of women in their late-20s say they are unsure of decisions about retirement savings.
With longer life expectancies than men, retirement can be another financial challenge for women. Not only do you need to make sure you have enough set aside to enjoy yourself in your autumn years, there’s also the cost of care and comfort to think about as you get older.
Women entering a care home aged somewhere between 65 and 74 will end up paying an average of £132,000 for their stay. That’s almost double the average amount paid by men. It may be of some consolation that women have typically amassed a pension pot of £35,700 by the age of 65. Of less consolation will be the fact that men have an average of £179,091 to play with.
Beat the odds, protect your lot
When it comes to financial prosperity, the odds favour men. That doesn’t mean you cannot overcome the odds. And you can protect your wealth from the unexpected while building a nest egg for your future with PG Mutual.