Originally established 200 years ago in Edinburgh to support widows of the Napoleonic war, Scottish Widows is really well placed to understand the financial needs of women.
Today they have published a white paper, “200 years of Women and Finance”which explores women’s financial behaviors and shows the importance of ensuring that the unique set of financial circumstances faced by women are understood and provided for.
Jackie Leiper, Women and Savings Expert at Scottish Widows, said: “When Scottish Widows was established in 1815 women were largely excluded from the workforce, couldn’t vote, had no right to their own property. Today our research found that the average woman feels financially independent by the age of only 22. and 1 in 5 women are the main breadwinners in the family.
Times have changed SO much but for many women financial independence can be difficult to achieve despite significant changes over the last 200 years in their favour.
I have found this myself.
My mother’s advice
Right from being a young girl my mum talked to me about the importance of having my own money.
She told me a woman should always have enough money of her own that she stays somewhere out of choice rather than necessity. Sadly I have many friends who have stayed in relationships they wish they could have left due to a lack of money to leave.
I think my mum’s advice was sound. She was never in this position herself, having children young and not working for many years but she hoped for me that my financial journey would be different. I was off to university I was ambitious.
My financial Plans and kids!
I always planned to have a great career and I spend many years training to be a social worker and then a children’s psychotherapist. I didn’t earn during those years but I believed the income I could generate once qualified would more than make up for it. I did work for a few years after qualifying and I did earn well, but then along came my kids.
My son was a teeny tiny baby and I was advised to keep him out of nursery during his first year as he was vulnerable so I took an extended maternity leave.I loved being a stay at home mum. It made me happier than anything ever had. I extend my career break to 6 years and in the end I never went back to my job.
All my plans to having a really secure income went out the window and we learned as a family to live on a low budget with no room for savings.
My kids scuppered my career plans for quite a while! (totally worth it. )
Slowly, slowly as my son approaches 11 I am back working full time but self employed now as a writer so I can be flexible to their needs. I have some savings but nowhere near what I thought I would have.
My husband? Well he carried on working and climbing the career ladder throughout and there was very little impact on his financial opportunities really.
I know all families are unique but I also know an awful lot of women who took a similar path to myself and very few men. Women do (often) have a different set of financial circumstances and it is so good these are being addressed. According to the the Scottish Widow report a quarter (26%) of women with children say having children has negatively affected their career progression, and 37% feel it has reduced their financial independence. Only one in five (17%) of women claim to be the main breadwinner in their relationship.
Without the kids by now I think I would have a secure pension in place, a very good savings plan and probably be able to be financially independent should the need arise.
My financial goals for this year are simply to….
1) sort out my pension ( women typically save £206 a month compared to men who save an average of £298 a month for retirement)
2) begin a regular goal focussed savings plan
I need to get organised!
In 2014, Scottish Widows launched its Women and Finance campaign to shine a light on the inherent bias against women in the current savings system in the UK, and called on industry and government to do more to promote the financial needs of women.
The Scottish Widows report, released today, shows a fascinating 200 year history of women and finance. The changes (in women’s favour) have been hard won and dramatic over the last 2 centuries. It was only in the 1970’s (during my childhood) that a women could sign for a mortgage on her own. Isn’t that shocking.
Women now make up 50% of the workforce and increasing numbers of men are taking extended paternity leave, but wage equality remains elusive and this of course affects women’s ability to save and that needs to be addressed.
Join the Twitter Chat
I am taking part in a live Twitter Chat about women and finance on 3rd February 8pm – 9pm
The twitter chat is being run by Scottish Widows, hosted by Jackie Leiper (@ScottishWidows) and Sarah Pennells from SavvyWoman.co.uk. (@savvy_woman) Tots 100 (@Tots100) will also be participating in the Twitter chat as will I from @babybudgeting
A hashtag of #womenandfinance will be used for the event.
We would love you to join the chat and participate in asking questions.