Financial Literacy

Why You Can’t Get Ahead Financially: Shocking Women and Money Statistics

February 3, 2023
Learn how to take control of your finances and overcome the gender wealth gap to create the life you want.
Britt and Laurie-Anne two women laughing and looking at their computers on a couch in a well-styled living room
Britt & Laurie Anne
Two female investors in their 30s with a collective net wealth of over $6 million+
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One of the most important things that you can do for yourself to help you live the life that you truly want to be living is to learn financial literacy, to learn how to take care of money.

When money works for you in your life, your life becomes much easier.

When money is something that causes stress and limits you, your life is much harder. Your choices are limited.

To me, money is a representation of my option and my choices. I know if I have more money, then I also have more choices available to me. If something in my life isn't working, then I can afford to get help to try and fix it.

I'm a huge proponent of taking control of your finances because it increases the likelihood that you will be able to create the life that you want to live.

Why take control of your finances?

There's more to it though. The downside of not taking control of your finances is grim.

I'm about to give you some statistics and I have to give you the heads up that they are a little depressing. In fact, I first started researching this. I had to take a break. It was like so upsetting to me to hear about the financial reality of what happens for women and money in America.

But I think it is really important to know these things. It's important to understand the financial landscape we live in because I don't want you to be another statistic. I want you to be someone who takes charge of your finances, and I'll talk about how to do that as well.

The financial reality for women

First, let's just talk about what the financial reality is for women.

The gender pay gap

I'm sure you've heard of the gender pay gap. This is the concept that women and men on average are not paid the same even when they do the same job.

On average, the gender pay gap is 18 cents per dollar. That means for every dollar that a man is earning a woman in the same job is earning only 82 cents for doing the same job.

That sucks, and it's a pretty well-known problem. There are a lot of reasons that create it, and there are things that are happening that are starting to correct it, but it's actually only the start of the problem.

This gender pay gap and some other factors contribute to a lesser known and a much more important and staggering gap, and that is the gender wealth gap.

The Gender Wealth Gap

Wealth is the value of assets minus debts.

Wealth provides an overview of your financial health, and it represents your ability to deal with economic consequences of things like illness, unemployment, financial emergencies.

It also reflects your ability to invest in your own future or the future of your children. Wealth provides a reservoir that can be drawn upon in times of need. It provides a better future for our children, and it provides support in old age. It is really important that women build wealth.

A wealth gap is the unequal distribution of wealth within a population. The gender wealth gap is about the unequal distribution of wealth between women and men.

This isn't about how much women make compared to men, it's about how much they own, how much they keep, how much money they actually have, and it is a much bigger gap — 68 cents per every dollar.

That means, on average, for every dollar that a man holds of wealth, a woman holds only 32 cents — a third.

And this is much worse for women of color who are facing not only the gender wealth gap, but also a racial wealth gap.

Latino and black women hold less than a penny for every white male dollar of wealth that is out there. This is incredibly messed up, especially when you think about how much progress women have made in the last few decades.

The wealth gap is a big problem nationally. It's a big problem when you look at averages and statistics, but it's also a problem for you right now as an individual woman living your life.

What that number says to me is that you cannot leave your finances up to chance. You cannot just hope this works out in the end. It doesn't.

What this really tells us is that for women to create wealth, they have to take it into their own hands.

Yet, study after study has shown that women are investing later and less often in life.

Why Women Are Financially Behind Men

Women are now more likely to go to college than men are, and families are more likely to rely on a women's earnings than ever before. Two-thirds of mothers are either the sole breadwinners, primary breadwinners, which means they earn as much or more than their partners, or their co-breadwinners, earning at least 25 to 50% as much as their partner.

Women are going to school more and women are working more for their families.

For me, the most depressing stat that I found is that the gender wealth gap does not improve with more education. This is not simply a case where we can go back to school and get higher education and expect to come out even.

While we would all like to think that higher education and higher wealth go hand in hand, the wealth benefits of education are not equal between women and men.

The difference in wealth between men and women increases actually dramatically as education increases.

The median level of wealth for men with a high school diploma is almost $2,000 more than women. But at the graduate school level, the median for wealth for men is more than $51,000 higher than women for the same level of education, 25 times greater.

There is also a wealth tax on mothers, and it's especially high mothers have only 20% as much wealth as fathers and mothers who are women of color face the triple wealth disadvantage of the gender wealth gap, the racial wealth gap, and the motherhood wealth tax.

You combine that with the likelihood that women are more likely to graduate with more student loans and then earn less, meaning their debt to income ratio is higher and it takes them longer to pay off their loans so they have less money in savings and less money invested.

You are likely to graduate from that good school with thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, and then get a job where you make less than your male counterpart, and it takes you a long time to pay off that debt and come back to a financial equilibrium where you can start building wealth.

You combine that with things like the pink tax, which is where companies mark up the cost of products purely because they are marketed towards women.

You tie all of these factors together and you end up in a situation where women are nearly twice as likely as men are to be in poverty when they retire.

You Are Not Powerless

So why am I bumming you out with all of these stats about how unfair it is? Because it is unfair. That is the reality, and you need to operate inside of the reality.

It is an unfair situation and we need to act accordingly. That means that you cannot afford to ignore your finances. You cannot leave this up to chance. It does not work out because the system is truly rigged against you.

Now, that does not mean you are powerless. It means that you need to learn how to operate inside of this broken system so that you can win…because you CAN win.

You cannot just do what society taught you and go to a good school and get a good job and be okay. When we look at the wealth gap as our lens for women's financial status, we see women's economic vulnerability and we can see substantial inequities for groups in which the income gap.

Now, there are many systemic societal issues that are causing this discrepancy, and there are some great organizations that are doing good work to help improve them, but it's not enough is a personal issue, and it means that you as a person need to solve it for yourself.

This is an area where society is failing you and — like it or hate it (personally, I hate it) — it's happening and it's happening right now.

So what are we gonna do about it? What can we do about it? Well, the good news is that there's actually a lot that you can do about it.

How YOU Can Take Control of Your Finances

Personal finance is not mysterious. It is entirely learnable, and there are rules to money and there are strategies to money that if you know them and you understand them, you can use them to truly create a financial situation that you want.

You do not need to be a statistic that lives in poverty upon retirement. The economic security of our country and of our families relies more on the shoulders of women right now than it ever has before, and I believe that the women's wealth gap lies at the heart of other social inequities that are impacting our children, our families, and our country at large.

You do not need to stay in debt. You do not need to live paycheck to paycheck, but you do need to take this into your own hands. You need to be in the driver's seat of your financial life because no one is coming to do this for you.

The Disney movies I watched as a kid where the prince swoops in to rescue the damsel…that's not how this story ends. You are not a damsel and you do not need rescuing. You can get yourself out of the tower. You can do this. You can get money to work for you, and you can live a free and abundant happy life. And we can show you how.

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