Women and young people are among those with the lowest financial literacy in society, and during the pandemic it’s these same groups of people who are experiencing the most stress and are most likely to have lost their jobs.
In this interview, financial advisor, Jessica Brady, explains the importance of removing the stigmas around discussing finances and financial problems among women, and what women need to be doing throughout the pandemic to maintain financial stability.
- In your experience, what are the contributing factors to how discussions about money have become somewhat taboo among women?
You know, I’d actually challenge the wording of that question and say that women (ladies?) talking money has always been taboo – it’s most definitely not a recent phenomena! Society has been telling us directly and indirectly for decades just how frivolous and bad at finance we really are and to great effect! A huge number of women crave the kind of financial freedom that gives them security, the ability to do good and help others. But how long has it been since they stopped being told that a good, rich husband was the only avenue for achieving those things? Two generations? One? Has it even stopped? There are so many factors both implicit and explicit that have limited the conversations being had by women. Only now are we starting to see them unravel!
- How is this perception of money-related discussions impacting women’s financial stability?
What happens when you condition generations of young women to believe that the security and freedom they so desire is only available through one avenue – marriage? You end up with a nightmare scenario where women in their 50’s become the fastest growing group of homeless people in Australia and vast numbers of social housing projects are filled with older women who were left destitute after the deaths of their husbands. Even as we depart from the ‘women belong in the kitchen’ status quo – its effects are still real and very tangible. The wage gap, disproportionate burden of unpaid care, low levels of C-suite roles and even expectations around domestic duties are all a part of the hangover. Money is just one of the many conversations that are long and sorely overdue. We need to re-negotiate everything from domestic workloads to the feasibility of a superannuation system that actively disadvantages stay at home parents – of which women make up the vast majority.
- During the pandemic what are the biggest financial watch outs for women?
Women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic as they make up an outsized portion of the part time/casual workforce. It’s almost as if there is an unreasonably large burden of unpaid care and domestic duties preventing many of them from accessing full time employment opportunities! For those who have lost their jobs we recommend a deep dive into the Australian government’s COVID-19 financial support programs. Likewise for those who work for themselves – the government has introduced a whole range of programs to support businesses during this difficult time. For those of us who are still employed we recommend revising your spending and budget. There’s never been a better time to bolster your savings and emergency fund! For a deep dive into the available options and taking care of your finances, check out our Ladies Talk Money COVID-19 special here.
- What should they be doing or considering now to mitigate long term financial risk?
It sounds silly but actually understanding your financial situation is so important in times like these. It’s imperative that we consider the impact of our long, medium and short term financial goals and fully understand the implications of our actions. Rash decisions can have huge, long lasting financial impacts; it’s important to consider all of the pros and cons before making any big changes! Finally, all of the ladies out there need to think about protecting themselves with the right insurance policies! It only takes one serious event to realise how vulnerable we really are. We insure all of our nice things – cars, homes, holidays etc – but so often fail to adequately insure ourselves. Insurance may sound dull at first – but what’s more exciting than going to sleep at night and knowing you’re completely covered in the event of some unexpected crisis!
About the expert
Before launching Fox & Hare, Jess spent 11 years working for major players including Macquarie Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Zurich. Realising there was so much confusion, frustration and heartache associated with money, Jess wanted to build a place where people could be excited about the idea of creating and achieving financial goals. Now, two and a half years later, Fox & Hare is shaking up the finance industry, promoting education and expert coaching to help next-gen professionals feel empowered about their money. Alongside Fox & Hare, Jess is also a co-founder of the recently launched initiative, Ladies Talk Money – a free, online platform of videos, articles and resources dedicated to supporting women to talk about all things money.
Image description: Headshot of Jessica Brady sitting cross legged on a leather couch wearing a black top and black jeans with glasses on smiling.