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Money Milestones of Women in America

Gayle Evezich — March is Women’s History Month so it’s a perfect time to write about women and money. There’s been a lot of progress in the past 180 years and there’s more to do but let’s take a moment to celebrate some historical milestones. I expect a few of these milestones may surprise you (hint: women had to have a cosigner on loans until 1974!):

  • 1839: The first law allowing women to own property is passed.
  • 1870: Victoria Woodhull and her sister Tennessee Claflin opened the first woman-owned brokerage on Wall Street.
  • 1903: Maggie Lena Walker opened the first bank chartered by a woman.
  • 1919: Sarah Breedlove becomes the country’s first self-made woman millionaire. Born to freed slaves, orphaned, and invented and sold hair-care products to black women.
  • 1960s: The Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed giving women the right to have their own personal bank accounts.
  • 1963: Equal Pay Act is passed.
  • 1967: Muriel Siebert becomes the first woman seated on the NYSE, joining 1,365 men.
  • 1971: The Supreme Court strikes down a law that allows only men to administer estates. The attorney was Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
  • 1972: Katharine Graham becomes the first woman CEO of an established Fortune 500 company.
  • 1974: Congress bans banking requirement for male co-signer credit and loans applications.
  • 1978: Employers can no longer discriminate or fire pregnant employees.
  • 2008: Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act was passed which amended the Civil Rights Act and expanded Equal pay laws.

The women and countless others who worked to achieve significant milestones are to be celebrated and appreciated because they’ve laid the groundwork for the rights and benefits we enjoy today. It is inspiring to reflect upon all of the progress that has been made. However, we need to take a hard look at the current state of women and finances and recognize that there is still much work to be done.

The gender pay gap is pretty well known but there are other startling statistics that most people aren’t aware that negatively affect women:

  • Women are 5 times more likely than men to be living paycheck to paycheck and without an emergency fund.
  • Women pay 39% more than men for healthcare during retirement because we usually live longer.
  • Older women have spent an average of 44% of their working life out of the workplace. This is time taken out for child rearing and taking care of others.
  • Less earnings = less Social Security
  • Less earnings = less potential accumulation in retirement accounts
  • 27% of American families are headed by single women.
  • By age 85, women outnumber men two to one. 
  • The majority (81%) of centenarians are women.
  • Women are 80% more likely to live in poverty in retirement.

Because we have typically worked less during our careers, we accumulate less wealth for retirement yet we live longer. This creates an significant issue of women in retirement having less than what they’ll need. This is known as the wealth gap.

When we look at data on women and their relationship with money, we find that far too many women are reluctant to discuss money and often underestimate their abilities to manage money. 

  • 60% of women worry about not having enough money to last through retirement.
  • Only 5% of women reached out to a financial professional for guidance during divorce.
  • 50% of women are often nervous about the financial decisions they make
  • 42% of women would rather go to the dentist that talk about money

It’s time for change. There are steps to overcome these challenges and minimize the long term impact on your financial future. It all begins with managing your money to take control of your financial life. It means making your money and your retirement a priority. 

  • Set goals. Here’s a step by step lesson on goal setting.
  • Get on a budget, and stay on a budget. Check out our Budgeting course if you need help getting started.
  • Pay down your debt.
  • SAVE, SAVE, SAVE for yourself, for your retirement, and for your goals!

We can help you get on the right track and overcome any money relationship issues preventing you from securing your future. Schedule an appointment now.