Gen Z women at risk of falling behind

Financial outcomes for women have improved nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic but Generation Z women are most at risk of being left behind according to the latest Financy Women's Index (FWX).
By · 22 Nov 2021
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22 Nov 2021 · 5 min read
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The FWX can make for sobering reading. It describes how women’s financial wellbeing lags behind men on a number of fronts from career opportunities to equal pay. These have inevitable flow-on effects such as women retiring with less super than men.

The latest FWX shows that women, particularly those aged under 25 years, could emerge from the pandemic in worse financial shape than when it began, largely because of the impact of lockdown-related job cuts.

Clearly, women face unique challenges. Yes, governments and employers have a role to play in shaking things up. But there are steps that women – and men, can take to improve their financial wellbeing. That matters, because holding out for ‘the system’ to change can mean falling further behind.

Money preoccupies much of our lives, and I’d love to see all Australians, regardless of age or gender, have a plan to become financially independent. We won’t all get there, but those with a plan have a better chance than those without one. And your money road map doesn’t have to be complex to be effective.

Start by setting yourself simple, achievable financial goals. Begin to tick off those goals by consistently spending less than you earn. I realise this isn’t easy if you’re on a low income, raising a family or juggling rent or mortgage repayments. But having personal savings under your belt really is the launch pad for financial security. Skipping easy spending options like credit cards or buy now pay later can help you stay on track with savings.

Next, put savings to work by investing in high quality assets like shares, exchange traded funds and property that are backed by real assets generating ongoing returns.

Invest in your personal skillset too through additional training or study. It can boost your employability and lifelong earnings potential.

Along the way, take the time to nurture your super. Check if your fund charges competitive fees and has a track record of decent returns. If you have some spare cash (and I know that can be a rare thing for many Australians), consider adding a bit to your super. Your future self will thank you for it.

The upshot is that yes, women face hurdles. But I’ve also come across plenty of research showing women have what it takes to be great money managers and successful investors. It may not be easy, but taking charge of your financial wellbeing – at any age, will provide greater choices about how you lead your life.

Paul Clitheroe is Chairman of InvestSMART, Chair of the Ecstra Foundation and chief commentator for Money Magazine.

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Paul Clitheroe
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