Learn more, do more: Financial literacy and women

Recent data from Stats Canada shows that a gender gap persists in the Canadian workplace, when it comes to pay. The good news is that this gap is shrinking, due in part to more women over the last couple of decades furthering their education in an effort to secure better employment.

financial literacy and women

While women understand the necessity of education to close this workplace gender gap, a new survey from Statistics Canada reveals that they aren’t embracing their personal finances with the same approach.  The report, called the Canadian Financial Capability Survey, found that men were more had higher financial literacy than women.

Some other findings of the survey include:

  • On key financial issues like interest rates and similar topics, 22 percent of men answered questions correctly, vs. 15 percent of women.
  • Among the respondents, 43 percent of men consider themselves financially literate, vs. 31 percent of women.
  • The gender differences in financial literacy were greater with older Canadians
  • Gender roles in the household play into financial literacy. Not surprisingly, in households where men “managed the finances” or were the higher breadwinner, more men scored higher on the financial literacy quiz. In households where financial management was shared, or income was similar, the gap in financial literacy was erased.

“Effective money management in any household means an understanding of your financial picture and what your options are,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director at the Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.

“Whether it’s household budgeting, balancing the chequebook, paying down debt or planning for retirement, it’s important that women and men are equally well-informed. Education will support your success in the workplace; financial literacy will support your success with your personal finances.”

While women are grasping this relationship between education and employment, there is work to be done in financial literacy. Ladies: knowledge is power in all areas of your life.

Lay the cards on the table

You may happily defer your household’s financial management over to your spouse because your eyes glaze over at the mention of interest rates and RRSPs, but staying tuned in is imperative for your own financial security.

You have date night with your spouse? It’s time to start scheduling financial update nights too, so that you can discuss where you are at and where you are going on a regular basis. What is your debt load like? What sort of retirement planning are you actively doing? What are some of the timelines on your financial goals?

What if?

While it may seem a relief to be able to hand off your financial management to someone else at the moment, what would happen if things changed? Life events like death or disability of your spouse will not only turn your world upside down, it will plonk you in the financial driver’s seat. In that scenario, will you know what to do?

All the single ladies

Unfortunately, many marriages end in divorce. Unfortunately, divorce is a huge contributor to debt and credit problems. You can mitigate any potential financial damage by being aware of your finances ahead of time.

If a relationship is breaking down, ensure that all joint accounts are closed. Work at establishing your own credit history by taking out credit in your name only and paying the balance off on time, every month. Be proactive in making sure joint bills are paid while the divorce proceedings are going on and check into your credit report to make sure it is accurate.

The more you know about how to manage your household finances, the more likely you are to achieve financial success.

Are you struggling with debt while supporting your family? Are you aware of all of your financial options? Taking charge is the first step towards positive change. Call one of our trained credit counsellors 1-888-294-3130 or check out our free online debt analysis tool to get started.

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