Financial challenges many women face include pay inequality, caretaking roles, the impact of divorce or the death of a spouse, and finally longevity.  

Are you willing to work for .82 cents on the dollar?

On your climb up the corporate ladder, did you realize you may be receiving only .82 cents on the dollar compared to your male co-workers?  The pay disparity is real situation which should not be denied.  This difference in earnings between women and men is referred to as the wage gap.  The wage gap reflects earning across all industries, it is not a direct comparison of pay for women and men performing the same occupation.  It does however, show the financial effect of, “funneling of women and men into different types of industries and jobs based on gender norms and expectations”  (Bleiweis, 2020).  This can greatly affects a woman’s take home pay, and calculated over a 40 or more year work history she could be behind by several hundred thousand dollars.  In retirement years “women are the majority of adult beneficiaries, collecting Social Security as retired or disabled workers, and as wives and widows” (Women’s Stake in Social Security). Because women are the most dependent on Social Security, when calculating benefits women may receive replacement of “a larger proportion of past wages” due to Social Security’s progressive benefit formula (Women’s Stake in Social Security).  

Women may feel like they are sandwiched between caring for parents and their children

Many women are caregivers by nature.  We raise our babies.  We tend to our aging parents.  I would like to share my own story of being in the sandwich phase of life.  When I was just 25, my parents called me over to their house.  My mom explained to me she could no longer do their bookkeeping and believed she was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s.  My dad was a successful businessman and owned a boat dealership, but the financial aspects had always been left to my mom.  As their only child, they looked to me and trusted in me, to be there for them, and to help.  At the time, I was not yet educated in finance, but I quickly went into action mode.  Together, the three of us crafted a financial plan to ensure we were on track with their goals.  We enlisted the help of an estate attorney, financial advisor, insurance agent, CPA, and various doctors.  This became the spark for my passion to serve those in need of financial services.  Each month I would go over their financials and we would hold a family “board meeting” for review purposes.  It was very important to me to keep them in the loop regarding their finances.  Within the next 5 years my husband and I started a family.  The health of both of my parents continued to decline.  I vividly remember juggling diaper changes and feedings for my two babies along with many days filled with doctor appointments and financial management for my parents. It was 15 years after my parents first called on me to help, by the time they had both passed away.  During that time I had the opportunity to learn about financial planning.  My children got to spend a lot of time with my parents.  Grant it, most of the time was at doctor appointments, but kids are flexible, so it was ok.  It was a very trying period in my life, but I now recognize, the 15 years I spent working with my parents as their financial planner was like a final gift from them, it showed me the way to my career passion.     

Facing life alone after divorce or death 

Divorce or the death of a spouse can result in more than just the experience of loneliness.  It may result in the loss of the family home due to financial hardship.  A woman may experience an increased workload to manage financial responsibilities while still struggling to maintain a sense of family for her children.   She may just feel lost without her partner.    

Female life expectancy is greater than male

A 2017 life expectancy chart provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, pertaining to National Population Projections by sex concluded the life expectancy of women to be 82 with males averaging age 77.  By 2060 the age gap is anticipated to narrow, but women will still be outliving men by more than 3 years at ages 83.8 for women and 79.7 for men (Medina, Sabo, & Vespa, 2020).  

Conclusion

What’s a girl to do?  Country western singers may croon to us we need to dry our tears, fix our face, then get out there and make a change.  It’s fine advice for uplifting our spirits during a 2 minutes song, but this will not change our present situation longterm.  It’s going to take some hard work.  Pay disparity can be combatted by higher education or starting your own business.  Like the exhausted feeling I experienced as I was sandwiched between raising my children and watching over my parents, embrace the little moments , they can bring you joy.  Your parents won’t be with you forever and your children will begin to adventure down their own path.  Hopefully, your children will have learned from experiencing your own compassionate nature and they will be there for you when you are older and in need.  Divorce or the death of your spouse may be out of your control, but don’t give up.  Lean on those who are close to you like family, friends from Church, or at work.  Seek legal counsel if you or your children are in an unsafe relationship.  Finally, try to take advantage of your time to do what you have always wanted to do, and in the quiet of your senior years, you can reflect on your life well-lived.      

About the Author

Author, Marianne Martini Nolte, Certified Financial Planner ™ practitioner, provides fee-only, fiduciary, independent financial services.  Her firm, IMAGINE FINANCIAL SERVICES (IFS) is a registered investment advisor offering advisory services in the State of California and in other jurisdictions where exempted.  Marianne’s focus is serving women and generations X, Y, and Z.  This article is intended as a high level view.  

All written content is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of IFS, unless otherwise specifically cited.  Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources and no representations are made by our firm as to other parties’ informational accuracy or completeness. 

For more in depth information, please reach out:

Marianne Martini Nolte, CFP®

Imagine Financial Services 

Website, www.imaginefinancialservices.com  

Email, mnolte@imaginefinancialservices.com

Phone, (760) 472-5155

Reference

Bleiweis, R. (2020, March 24). Quick Facts About the Gender Wage Gap. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2020/03/24/482141/quick-facts-gender-wage-gap/

Medina, L., Sabo, S., & Vespa, J. (2020, February). Living Longer: Historical and Projected Life Expectancy in the United States, 1960 to 2060. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2020/demo/p25-1145.pdf

Women’s Stake in Social Security. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.nasi.org/learn/socialsecurity/womens-stake

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