The pandemic left women financially worse off: here’s what you can do about it – AD

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You don’t need to look far to see evidence that the pandemic has hit our finances and for some of us, it has hit them hard. Unfortunately, one group that seems to have been hit harder is women.

Even if the pandemic hasn’t left you worse off, you are probably realising that your relationship with money has changed. Whether it is how to access your money, how you spend it, or how you make it. The pandemic has made us look at all areas of our lives.

Really there is no denying that it has happened, but what are the statistics?

How the pandemic has impacted women financially

The true scope of this won’t be known for many years, but below are a few headline figures that begin to paint a picture of what has been going on.

  1. Women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable – this is largely attributed to school closures and the increased demands on parents to manage childcare at home. Typically, yet not exclusively, this work was taken on by women and has left them at greater risk of unemployment.
  2. Changes to banking habits are leaving women behind – during the pandemic our relationship with our banks changed. Nearly a quarter (24%) of consumers reduced their use of branches (ya know because they were shut) and 5% decrease their use of telephone banking. But the research showed that our financial vulnerability increased too and with this our drive to shop around for alternatives.
  3. Over representation of women seeking debt help – Of all the people seeking help with problem debt 60% of these were women. Although numbers fell in real terms compared to pre-pandemic figures, it is expected that some of this is due to measures such as universal credit up-lift and furlough schemes, which are set to end in September.

What can you do to limit the impact

The problem with pandemics is that they are largely unpredictable. I mean no one would have expected this back in 2019. But now we are in the throws of it there are a few actions we can take.

Face the facts

In stark contrast to Fight Club, the first rule of finances is to ALWAYS talk about your finances. I don’t mean at work over coffee, but with partners and friends that are supportive. Failing to face up to the reality of your figures is a recipe for trouble.

You don’t need to do anything fancy. Just check in with your money, make sure that things are under control, and if not get some plans in place. You might realise that the credit card debt is a little higher than expected, or your savings took a hammering. Ignoring those things won’t make them go away, so face up and get ready to act.

Build some buffers

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I don’t think there is a person out there who hasn’t muttered the phrase “if I’d have known this (waves vaguely) was going to happen, I would have…” Well, we can’t go back and change what happened but we can put some systems in place for the future.

This could be things such as building an emergency fund to help cover unexpected expenses or to pay the bills if you are out of work. It might include paying down your debts as much as possible, whilst you have money coming in. Or it could be building up multiple streams of income so that you can keep the cash flowing even if you end up on furlough again.

Ultimately you hope that you’ll never need to be in a situation where you are thanking your past self for this level of wisdom and insight. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it is plan for the worse and hope for the best. (Oh and banana bread is better with chocolate chips in.)

Sort your current account

Research by the Current Account Switch Service found that men were 50% more likely to know about its service than women. This means that they are more likely to be switching who they bank with to suit their needs than women.

Switching bank accounts could mean better access to your money, more features that fit with your lifestyle, and even a branch that is closer to you. You might check and find that you already have the best account for you, but wouldn’t that be good to know.

What’s stopping you from switching? If your bank no longer meets your needs, the Current Account Switch Service is free, easy, and guaranteed. Find out more on their website.

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