Women are making incredible strides. For the first time in history, we are more educated than men and hold a majority of the advanced degrees. We represent 50% of the workforce, up from 35% a generation ago. And, we make most of the household decisions, everything from buying items for the home to managing household finances.
But of course, as women, we still face unique challenges that need specific attention and advice. Here are my top money tips every woman ought to know.
Contribute More to Retirement
First, sorry to say, we need to save more for retirement than men when you consider we live an average five years longer. If you haven't already, it's best to automatically set aside close to 15% of each paycheck in a 401(k) or other retirement plan, a bit more than the generally recommended 10%.
Prepare For Higher Expenses
As we recently covered, it costs more to be a woman. Research shows women pay an average $1,300 a year more than men for everything from haircuts to home loans. We can always refuse to buy higher priced goods and services, but it never hurts to have a cash cushion filled with six to nine months of living expenses.
Now I know what you're thinking: How can we save more when we still earn less than men on average? The solution: earn more. While the average annual income for working women has jumped 74% over the last three decades, today's female worker still earns 23 cents less for each dollar her male co-worker makes. So we've got two choices: Either speak up and ask for more money on the job or develop an additional revenue stream on the side. For inspiration, check out sites like Tutor.com, TaskRabbit and Elance.com.
Ask For Help
Perhaps one of the hardest things for women to do is my next tip - establish a support group. While we can be exceptional at managing multiple tasks on our own, when it comes to our money, it's smart to invest in some professional help from time to time. Start with a fee-free certified financial advisor to help you establish goals, budget and build wealth. Check out The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, the Financial Planning Association or the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. You can do a broker background check at FINRA.org.
Invest in Life Insurance
Next, if you have children or other dependents, life insurance is a must as it can help to protect your family's future. But as it stands, some 43% of working women have no life insurance and when we polled our Yahoo Shine Facebook viewers, 40% admitted they were uninsured as well. How much do you need? More than you think. Currently, the average life insurance policy for women covers just $130,000, about one-third less than the average male life insurance policy. But considering we earn less, live longer and tend to have higher expenses, you'll likely need much more.
For example, if you're a healthy 30-year-old with a child and bring home $50,000 a year, aim for a $500,000 policy, which shouldn't cost more than $25 per month. Compare quotes at sites like: Accuquote.com, FindMyInsurance.com, LifeInsure.com.
Leave a Positive Financial Legacy
Finally, speaking of family, a recent survey discovered that children learn the most about money from mom. According to Creditcards.com, about one in four young adults said their mothers were the biggest financial influence growing up. Roughly 20% picked dad. So my last tip is to remember to leave a positive financial legacy for the next generation. Whenever you're clipping coupons, heading off to work or using a credit card, discuss what you're doing and why it matters. Encourage your kids to seek financial advice when they need it.
We want to hear from you. What's some financial advice you find particularly important for women? Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh and use the hashtag #FinFit