Financial Literacy for Women

Women have made great financial strides in recent years. Yet they still lag behind in general financial literacy skills. There is help out there for them though – a number of resources list below can help them close the financial literacy gap. As the fact is more women than men now successfully graduate from college, the number of female entrepreneurs and CEOs is up, and the gender pay gap is sadly still there, but it is beginning to shrink. We have information on how they can also close the financial literacy gap and learn about everything from investing to building wealth for themselves.

As there there is another gender gap that is talked about much less often: and that is financial literacy. A number of studies and measurements show that women tend to struggle more with things like savings, retirement, debt reduction and other long-term financial goals.

There are a number of intersecting reasons for this. One is simply that the wage gap gives them less money to work with (such as invest) over their lifetime. Another is that they are unfortunately underrepresented in the highest-paying fields. Divorce is very difficult to plan for and tends to take a larger financial toll on female partners as too many do leave the financial decision to their partners. Single mothers, especially those whose partners do not pay child support, also are the biggest contribute to povery levels as they are working to provide for their kids. And child-raising tends to take time away that would otherwise go to various financial opportunities, from earning more to learning about and tending to investments.

Studies show that, among other things:

• 3.8 million American women possess are beneath the most basic financial literacy level needed to understand bank statements and credit card payment terms.
• Only 18% were able to pass a retirement income quiz, as compared to 35% of men per the per the RICP Retirement Income Literacy Survey from The American College of Financial Services.
• Women lag behind men in possessing retirement accounts and “rainy day” funds by about 10%.
• Women are almost 10% more likely to be dealing with unpaid medical bills.
• About 34% of single mothers live in poverty per the census bureau, which is about 2.5 times the national average.
• Though the gender pay gap has decreased since 2017, experts estimate it could take 43 years for it to fully even (the gap is still about 20% among full-time workers).
• Women most often retain custody of children after a divorce, adding a substantial child care bill that they must handle on their own.
• Women of all ages tend to have lower IRA and 401(k) balances than men, but the difference becomes especially acute among those age 55 and up per data from Fidelity.
• Women tend to live about 2.3 years longer than men, increasing their need for retirement funds.
• 41% of women in the US experience some sort of an extended financial struggle per Federal Reserve Data.

Financial literacy for women

Though women face all of these financial disadvantages, they are still expected to earn and spend at least as much as a man to get by. In some cases, the “pink tax” can make certain items even more expensive. So how do women close the financial literacy gap? There is no one simple solution to this problem, but there are many resources available to help.

Resources and agencies that focus on helping women with financial literacy

There are a number of resources out there for women of all ages, whether teenagers, college students, single moms, stay at home mothers, or anyone. Each and every one, whether a non-profit organization or a podcast, is focused on em[powering women and helping them improve their financial literacy. As it is a critical skill to have so women can close the wage, earning, and investment gap that sadly exists in society.

Non-Profit Women focused Financial Literacy Organizations

The Financial Literacy Organization for Women and Girls (FLOW) offers a variety of programs and events on the topics of economic literacy, entrepreneurship and asset building. In-person events, such as financial boot camps for girls and talks on various financial subjects, are held in the Washington DC area. The “womenar” events are available online on a regular basis.

Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) offers a wide variety of internet resources that cover nearly all of the financial fundamentals: retirement planning, saving, social security, starting investment accounts and managing paychecks among others. Resources are also available for issues specific to women such as divorce and widowhood. The organization also holds a number of in-person events throughout the year at various venues throughout the United States. Learn more on getting started with investing.

The Women’s Institute for Financial Education (WIFE) is a paid membership service, but the website has a huge library of free information on all sorts of financial topics, including investment, saving for retirement and so much more. The primary benefit for members is the facilitation of organizing “money clubs” to regularly meet and go through all sorts of financial activities.

Invest in Girls is tailored specifically to teenage girls. Young women participate in a full program with a curriculum that gives them a robust personal finance education before they reach the end of high school. The organization also holds various workshops, events and industry trips. There is also technology and apps that young women can use for financial literacy.

Websites that Focus on Finances for Women

Clever Girl Finance is an online “personal finance platform” for women based on the popular book of the same name. The site has a regular blog, podcast and YouTube channel that all contain resources and helpful financial literacy advice.

Jean Chatzky’s Her Money has a strong focus on bringing everyday women financial advice without the industry jargon and lingo. The website is packed with free articles on all sorts of subjects, and there is a regular free podcast as well.

Savvy Ladies Inc. is all about financial planning. The site has a frequently updated blog and a number of free webinars, but one of the biggest highlights is a free financial help line that is staffed by volunteers. The organization also holds in-person events throughout the year, usually in New York City.

Money Smart is run by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and offers educational materials to adults who are outside of the “financial mainstream”; for example, those that do not have bank accounts, are underbanked or are unable to obtain credit. It’s a series of simple courses that go through financial literacy topics one at a time, and there is a separate version for young adults as well.

Podcasts Focused on Personal Finance

Her Dinero Matters is a regular podcast in both English and Spanish that has a special focus on the needs of Latinas and on financial independence for single women. As many female immigrant women are faced with even more challenges/discrimination when it comes to saving, investing, and overall personal financial lteracy.

So Money is hosted by Farnoosh Torabi of CNBC’s “Follow the Leader” and O magazine. There is usually a new episode every two or three days, with a focus on interviewing high-profile guests who can provide good financial advice. this podcast also gives information on women owned business and how to start one.

The Redefining Wealth Podcast blends financial advice with personal well-being. Elements of religion and spirituality are often brought into the conversation, as well as interviews with female entrepreneurs.

Free Online Courses for Women

All of the following sites offer free courses to anyone who is interested, and there are many finance options among them. Each site has its own structure, but the usual formula is to allow anyone to take a course for free but ask you to pay to get a formal certificate of completion.

• Biz/Ed Learning Zone
• Coursera
• EdX
• FutureLearn
• Khan Academy
• Skillshare
• Udemy

There are many other resources out there as well. Whether it is information on investing concepts such as exchanged traded funds or setting a budget, or deciding between needs and wants, and number of classes and resources are out there.

Many colleges and universities that offer free courses have moved them to one of the platforms listed above, but some still offer courses focused on helping females improve their financial literacy, and they tend to be offered directly through their own websites. These are often the same classes that students pay that high tuition for! The class materials and syllabus are usually the same, but they are usually not offered for credit (though there are a few exceptions). Some will ask you to follow along with an actual semester and view video lectures from the instructor, but others are self-paced and can be taken anytime.
• Carnegie-Mellon
• Harvard
• Missouri State University
• Yale

Various government agencies put out all sorts of free educational as well as financial literacy materials as well. These include courses and curriculums, articles, mortgage and foreclosure counseling, and programs. Agencies with these resources include:
• Department of the Treasury, Bureau of the Public Debt
• Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
• The Federal Reserve
• Office of Thrift Supervision
• Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
• U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission

Still Finding it Tough to Get Started?

There are no end of free resources out there that can help both women and men, but it’s all a little overwhelming to take in at once. If you’re still not sure what you should be looking for, start by making a list to prioritize items that will help you the most right this minute. A good example for most people would be:
• Handling monthly budgeting
• Saving for emergencies
• Paying down debt
• Wise use of credit and loans
• Planning for retirement
• Setting long-term savings goals
• Safe investments that yield more than a savings account

You can then begin looking for specific resources that address each need, making gradual progress toward overall financial health and prosperity. As there are a number of programs out there for females that will help them improve their financial literacy, or start on the journey to learning more. Close that gender gap!

By Jon McNamara