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5 Dec 2019

Financial Gender Gap

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How to bridge the financial gender gap

Feminists used to claim that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. Certainly, when it comes to spending, borrowing or saving money, men and women can behave as if they belong to different species.

In the past, when few women worked, it was accepted that they would be financially dependent on their male partners and would therefore be less involved in financial matters. Times have changed but most research shows that, despite greater equality between the sexes, men and women still approach their finances in very different ways.

Different saving habits

A survey by CreditExpert, the UK’s leading credit monitoring and identity protection service, shows men are better at saving for retirement. Almost three quarters have a pension plan, nearly half have an ISA and 62 per cent have other savings. By comparison, only half of female respondents have a pension, a third have an ISA and less than half have any other investments.

In part this can be explained by the fact that women are still less well off than men. Women working full time in the UK still earn 17 per cent less than men and research by The Fawcett Society, an equality campaigning charity, shows that their savings are worth 30 per cent less than their male counterparts’.

Women are more likely to put any extra cash towards family needs, it says, while many stop earning altogether while they raise children. The society is warning of a gender savings gap that will see many women living in poverty during their old age unless they take a more proactive approach to their finances.

Different spending habits

Another old stereotype turns out to be true – women do spend more on shoes.  A survey from UK payments association, APACS, shows that they spend an average of £67 a year on footwear. Men spend less than half of that, though they are more likely to part with large amounts of cash in restaurants.

Women are more on the ball than men, however, when it comes to using new technology. More than half of the study’s female respondents – 52 per cent – regularly accessed their bank account details online and used the web to manage their money. Only 48 per cent of men reported doing this.

Darryl Bowman, director of CreditExpert, says, “The Internet has become a powerful tool when it comes to financial management. One increasingly popular online trend is monitoring your credit report – the personal history of your credit accounts, including mortgages, credit cards and loans, plus your repayment record.

“It can act as a one-stop-shop, offering an overview of your borrowing and how well you’re coping. Since new credit applications involve lenders checking your report, it makes sense to ensure it’s up to date and accurate – or you could face an unexpected refusal.”

Different attitudes

Men don’t have much clue about how the opposite sex manages money, underestimating how much women care about almost every financial issue.

A study by CNN found that only 27 per cent of men think their partners care about having the right investments, yet nearly half of female respondents said they did care – the same proportion as men. Likewise, only 45 per cent of men thought that having emergency savings was important to their other half. In fact, 67 per cent of women believe it is crucial.

“The message is that, despite different attitudes and earnings, many women need to get more involved in managing their finances – and to find out how their men are coping,” says Mr Bowman.

Tips for bridging the gap

• Start by viewing both your credit reports – you each have to order your own but you can take advantage of a trial of CreditExpert to see your Experian credit report for free. It will show you where you are starting from and can form a basis for discussions.

• You’re a partnership, so don’t keep money secrets. Come clean about any debts you’ve run up and work together to find a way to repay them.
 
• Discuss how you can both build up enough savings to feel secure. If one of you has a secret stash for private projects, you could talk about turning it into a joint account or making it a family fund.

• Prioritise your spending, putting essentials such as rent or the mortgage, food and utility bills first, then agreeing a fair way to apportion treats.

• Ensure that you each have personal money. He may want to play golf or go to the pub, she may prefer to buy a handbag or take the kids to the cinema but at least you can make your own minds up.

• If you share any joint accounts, such as a credit card or mortgage, manage them jointly. Both your names are on the contract, so you both need to know if payments are late or skipped, as this will depress both your credit ratings for at least three years to come. A joint credit account also creates a financial association on your credit report and means that, when one person applies for credit, the lender may also look at the other’s credit report because a partner’s circumstances can affect your ability to make repayments.

• If you break up, make sure you wind up joint financial deals, reapportion the debt and start again. Your financial association can then be removed from your credit report – you don’t want to be turned down because your ex has got into trouble.

• Keep checking your credit report. It’s an important part of your financial CV and plays a key role in helping you to borrow what you need – whatever your gender.

To find out what your credit report says about you, you can check your Experian credit report online with a free trial of CreditExpert, the UK’s leading credit monitoring and identity fraud protection service.

 

 

• Check your Experian credit report for free,click here

 

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