Lack of financial knowledge is disempowering single women and mums

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Single women, and in particular single mothers, have cited poor financial knowledge as their biggest barrier to recovering from financial setbacks and challenges, according to new research from Galaxy Research on behalf of State Custodians Home Loans.

Galaxy Research polled 1,005 people nationwide, asking them how they would handle financial difficulties following stressful life events such as job losses, divorce, serious illnesses, or deaths in the family.

Nearly half of all single women (46%), and specifically three in five single mums (60%), said not knowing enough about money to understand what to do or who to turn to for help would be their biggest hindrance to getting back on track with their finances or money-related housing issues.   

Rather alarmingly, some 37% of single women and 46% of single mums admit the tendency to wait too long to take effective action in the hopes that their dire financial situation would “just somehow resolve itself on its own.”

The recent ANZ Survey of Adult Financial Literacy in Australia report revealed that women had lower scores on average than men on financial knowledge and numeracy from the age of 28 onwards.

Joanna Pretty, general manager at State Custodians Home Loans, said her firm often advises single women in difficult financial circumstances who’re struggling to make sense of financial issues.

“Most women usually spend some proportion of their lives on their own – whether it’s by choice or circumstance,” she said. “Given that women are living longer lives, it’s vital single women financially educate themselves in the event of a crisis. This also applies to women in a couple, who leave money matters up to their partner because they’re also at risk if they suddenly become single and don’t know how to handle finances.”

Listed below are some steps women – single or not – can take to financially empower themselves.
In preparation of a financial setback:
  1. Have an emergency fund stashed away. Aim to put aside at least three to six months’ worth of savings that can support you. 
  2. Live within your means. List down all your essential and non-essential expenses, and be honest about your present and future earning capacity. Only spend what you can afford.
  3. Educate yourself financially. Check how well your super is performing; make sure your bank accounts aren’t attracting unnecessary fees; and consider renegotiating your mortgage to a lower rate. Just as importantly, consider seeing a financial planner to map out your goals.


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