- In a world where women earn $0.82 for every $1 earned by a man, we're responsible for demanding more.
- Financial knowledge equals independence.
It may sometimes feel like one step forward and two steps back, but women have always been strong enough to fight for our rights.
As we celebrate Women's Equality Day, we acknowledge the sacrifices of the women who came before us. Women fought for everything -- from the right to inherit property to the right to vote. It's up to us to remember where we've been and how far we have to go.
And because money represents power in this country, we must captain our own financial ships. Here are five moves to get started.
1. Know your value
For every $1 a man earns, a woman makes $0.82. Here's the thing, though: The fact that the world does not treat us as though we're worth as much as a man does not make it true.
Many of us were socialized to believe we must be "ladylike." Being ladylike meant not expressing our opinions or demanding equal pay for equal work. Some of us even internalized the belief that our contributions aren't quite as significant as a man's.
The first power move you can make is to know your value. Stop feeling "lucky" that someone hired you and start thinking about all you contribute to the job. Are men around you earning more for the same work? Are men routinely elevated to managerial positions over women?
If so, it's time to make your case. Draw up a list of all you do for your employer and how you add value to the company. Then, be bold enough to ask for a raise based on your contributions. And if you so desire, let your boss know you're interested in moving up in the company.
The proverb, "Fortune favors the bold," applies here. It's up to you to be bold enough to advocate for yourself.
2. Make your voice heard at home
If you live with a partner and that person has taken the lead on household finances, it's time you have a say. It may be that your partner has been waiting for you to take over some of the financial planning responsibilities and will be thrilled to hear you're interested. But even if you're living with someone who jealously guards the right to control the money, it is crucial you participate.
If you ever break up with your partner or they die before you, you must have the know-how you need to make sound financial decisions. And the best way to gain know-how is by doing.
While it may sound dark, there's another good reason to ensure your opinion carries weight at home. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), between 94% and 99% of domestic violence survivors were also victims of economic abuse. One hallmark of financial abuse is when one partner controls all the money in the household and holds that power over the other person.
Even if you're in the healthiest imaginable relationship, it's good to share decision-making duties.
3. Maintain a separate bank account
There is nothing wrong with merging your finances as you build a life with another person. Still, as the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) points out, there are some pretty convincing reasons to keep a separate account in your name only.
A separate bank account offers a sense of financial independence. You may not be able to control everything in your world, but decisions regarding that account are yours and yours alone.
You don't want to "ask permission" to make small purchases. Separate accounts can reduce time spent bickering over silly things like how much you spend on coffee.
Separate accounts can also serve a practical purpose. Let's say you haven't been with your spouse or partner for long and came into the relationship with far more money put away. You may want to maintain control of the funds you brought into the relationship.
On the other hand, if you're in debt and working to pay it off, your partner may appreciate separate accounts as you get your financial house in order.
Are you paying an annual fee for a credit card you've carried for years? It's time to contact your credit card company and ask about dropping the fee. It’s likely to consider the request if you've been a good customer. If you're paying too much for auto or homeowners insurance, shop around. If you find a better deal, allow your current insurance company the opportunity to match it.
5. Trust yourself to invest
Fidelity's 2021 Women and Investing Study revealed that only 33% of women see themselves as investors, and a mere 42% feel confident in their ability to save for the future. If that sounds like you, now is the time to be bold and take risks. Don't fall for the notion that men are better investors than women. While it's true that men typically take more risks, women consistently earn better returns.
Whether you read about investing, take courses, or work with a financial advisor to gain knowledge, the more you learn, the more risks you're likely to take. And when it comes to investing, risks can pay off.
Women's Equality Day celebrates far more than our ability to make money. It marks the way we do it all, from feeding our families to running countries -- and manage to make it look effortless.
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