Ricochet News

Empowering women to beat the economic blues

Aug 7, 2017
Empowering women to beat the economic blues

Being a woman in South Africa can be tough during these unpredictable economic times. Not only do you have to contend with a wide gender pay gap, but more often than not, you are also the main breadwinner in your family.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the gender pay gap in South Africa is estimated to be between 15%-17% on average. This means that a woman has to work about 14 months to earn the equivalent salary that a man would earn in a year.

“For this reason women often bear the brunt of an economic downturn, as rising living costs increase the pressure on budgets and make it harder to get out and stay out of debt,” says John Manyike, Head of Financial Education at Old Mutual.

The 2017 Old Mutual Savings & Investment Monitor (OMSIM) indicates that more than half (52%) of metro working individuals surveyed said that their income hasn’t covered their monthly expenses at least once over the past year.

“Taking on a second job can help to reduce the pressure, but with the unemployment rate in the country currently sitting just under 28%, it’s not that easy to secure a steady source of additional income. Even if you do, the best and most sustainable solution to your financial worries is to budget efficiently.”

“It is crucial to have a sound and realistic monthly plan or budget in place to help you achieve your financial goals. A budget helps you to track exactly where your money is spent on a monthly basis and makes it easier to cut back on unnecessary and impulsive expenditure,” explains Manyike.

If you find managing your finances daunting, make use of the free online tools available (https://www.oldmutual.co.za/about-us/transformation/financial-education/financial-education-programmes/on-the-money) or speak to an accredited financial adviser. Once you’ve drawn up a budget, it will become easier to monitor and control your spending. 

How to draw up an effective budget:

  • Analyse your finances at the end of each month to identify ways to bring down your expenses. For example, instead of ordering lunch every day, why not bring your own lunch from home?
  • Scrutinise your bank accounts on a weekly basis – be on the lookout for any extra costs, unusual fees and double charges.
  • Make sure you are aware of all debits and credits on your account and that they are accounted for. If you forget to pay a bill, you will be charged interest – so diarise when your bills are due, and check that payment has gone through.
  • Compare your receipts against your monthly statements – this will enable you to understand your spending habits, which in turn will indicate where you can cut spending.
  • Make a note of all the items you need to buy and how much they will cost you. Ensure the list is complete, then stick to it.
  • Know when to stop. When you’ve got everything on your list, it’s time to stop shopping. Avoid popping into the malls, where temptation is huge. Remind yourself that if you can’t afford to add something to your list and pay for it with cash, don’t buy it.
  • Shop around, look out for discounts and buy in bulk, especially if you have a large family. However, if you live alone or have a small family, think twice before buying food in bulk, as some items may spoil if not consumed in time.
  • Avoid expensive brands if you can’t afford them
  • Don’t compete with friends or neighbours, this could damage your financial wellbeing

‘Remember that staying out of debt and becoming financially fit is one of the most empowering favours you can do for yourself and your family,” Manyike says.