The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a heavier financial toll on women than it has on men.
Even before Corona arrived, women were earning less than men, for doing the same job, and sometimes even when doing more.
Sadly, Covid-19 has just made things worse on this front.
Charnel Ernstzen, Managing Director of National Debt Advisors (NDA), says it is evident that women were hardest hit financially in the months that followed the initial lockdown in March 2020, whether as a result of a reduction in work hours, job losses or retrenchments.
“We have seen many of our female clients report a change in circumstance with regards to their income,” says Ernstzen.
“A loss or reduction in income affects someone’s ability to cover living expenses, service their debt, and plan for the future.
“Not all women who lost their income during the first lockdown have recovered, or even gone back to work. Their struggle continues everyday.
“Moreover, women bore the brunt of Covid’s impact on the schooling system, which saw them having to navigate working, schooling and care-giving responsibilities.
“Sadly, women are once again getting the short end of the stick.”
However, Ernstzen says she is heartened by the fact that more and more women seem to have taken the bull by the horns during this pandemic and followed their entrepreneurial spirit.
“The desperate need to find additional income has pushed females to start their own businesses, whether as a primary source of income or a side hustle.
“This means that more and more women are taking charge of their finances.”
“It is evident from the client interaction at NDA that women carry more emotional and historical baggage when it comes to money.
“Not many South African women grew up in households where they were exposed to positive conversations about money.
“Women saw their mother’s manage the money, but their fathers very much controlled it.
“But with more and more women single-handedly running households and contributing significantly to a two-income household – things are changing.”
In the spirit of Women’s Month, here are some financial tips for women:
Become informed and involved
Make the effort to become informed about money via various platforms. Read articles. Listen to podcasts. Watch videos. Ask questions. The more informed you are, the better decisions you will be able to make.
Make the effort to be involved in every aspect of money in the home
Ensure that you are aware of the household finances. Make sure you know all the details of your debt, your accounts, your home loan, and your insurance policies. Many women, who stay in the background of money matters in the home, find themselves in the dark when death, divorce or separation from a partner takes place.
Draw up a budget and speak to your family about it
A budget will not only be beneficial to your finances but it will also give you a sense of control and increase your confidence. If your budget is not working, have the confidence to discuss this with your partner and the rest of the family.
Set goals and start saving
Whether you have investments, a savings account or even if you just have your money saved in a jar – set a savings goal and work towards it. An amount of as little as R50 per month can start a good savings habit. If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is the importance of savings, especially in case of an emergency.
Get a money buddy
For whatever reasons, you may not feel comfortable speaking to your husband/partner about money. However, it is important that you become comfortable speaking about money. Find someone who you can trust to speak to about your finances, as well as who you can learn from.
Make the effort to un-clutter your finances like you do your closet
We make the effort to un-clutter our cupboards. We should be doing the same with our finances. Get out your statements and identify insurance duplications, unused subscriptions and unnecessary service fees and bank charges.
Minimise your debt
Getting rid of even the smallest amount of debt frees up cash which can be put into savings or use for everyday living expenses.
You can either tackle your debt on your own or use the services of a registered debt counsellor who will negotiate with creditors for lower debt repayments on your behalf.
Safeguard your income and insure your debt
Get income protection insurance on your salary, and ensure that you have credit protection insurance on all your debt. These will definitely stand you in good stead if your income is affected.
Take the risk and push through with your side hustle
Whether it is making food and cake and selling it from home, offering laundry or car washing services, do whatever will put extra rands in your pocket.
Everyone is struggling – ask for help
This pandemic has taken its toll on everyone. We are struggling physically, emotionally, mentally and financially. If you feel overwhelmed by work, relationships, children and everything else – reach out and ask for help.
Charnel Ernstzen concludes: “Even in the face of economic inequality, persistent prejudice, lack of support, opportunities, and resources – women continue to rise to the occasion by showing resilience, creativity and an innate strength that should be admired, in Women’s Month and every other month of the year.”