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Five steps for women to reduce money worries and rebuild resilience

·4-min read
Five steps for women to reduce money worries and rebuild resilience
Some 29% of women often worry about their debts, compared to 23% of men, according to a new survey. Photo: Getty

Women were hit hard by the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more on furlough for longer, in part because the industries that employ large numbers of women were strongly affected.

Women also took on greater childcare responsibilities when schools were closed, according to research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Females also tend to earn less than their male counterparts, with the gender pay gap in the UK standing at 19%, according to separate research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Having lower incomes for longer during the pandemic severely dented women's resilience and they were far more likely to be concerned about their finances than men, a new survey from Hargreaves Lansdown found.

More than a third (37%) of women said they’re either just about getting by or struggling, compared to 29% of men, according to the survey of 10,000 people.

Read more: Cheapest UK supermarket in November revealed

Some 28% of women often worry about paying bills, compared to 20% of men, and 19% of women are concerned about covering the rent or mortgage, compared to 16% of men.

Here are five steps for women to reduce money worries and rebuild resilience from the experts at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Control your debt

Some 29% of women often worry about their debts, compared to 23% of men, the survey found. Almost one in 10 (9%) women said they agonise about their debt levels every day.

Women were more likely to have borrowed during the pandemic than men, and they were more likely to have borrowed in excess of £1,000. Those who already had debt were more likely to have borrowed more, according to ONS statistics.

The first step to controlling your debt is figuring out where you stand and how much you owe.

"Then you’ll need to take a good look at your spending to see what you can realistically cut, in order to make repayments. The chances are you’ve done the easy things like shopping around for better deals, so there may be more difficult lifestyle choices to make." say the experts.

You can also look into what help might be available to you, such as benefits.

Read more: Gender pay gap exposes unequal UK as women earn 40% less than men

"If the problems are bad enough for you to be missing payments, speak to your lender sooner rather than later, to see what repayments you can afford and what they’ll agree to.

"This will affect your credit score, but not as badly as if you just miss payments," said Hargreaves Lansdown.

This can be stressful, so if you're struggling to face this you can ask debt charities like National Debtline and StepChange to talk to lenders for you and help you find a solution.

Build your emergency savings safety net

"Everyone should have enough savings to cover three to six months’ worth of essential expenses in an easy access savings account while they’re working age," said Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown.

However, 28% of women said their savings would last for less than a month if their income stopped, and around half would last less than three months, the survey found.

This was highlighted during the pandemic as the most common concern for women now is that they haven’t been able to save for emergencies during the crisis, with 41% of stating they often worry about this and 11% said they worry about it every day.

Read more: FCA to introduce new consumer duty

Once you’ve got any debts under control you can redirect spare cash into a savings account on payday each month — before you have a chance to spend it.

Save for later life

Getting to grips with your pension and making sure you’re building a large enough pot for retirement will help protect you when you finish work, say the experts.

All employers must provide a workplace pension scheme. You will be automatically enrolled if you are aged between 22 and the state pension age and you earn over £10,000 per year.

You and your employer must pay a percentage of your earnings into your workplace pension scheme. How much you pay and what counts as earnings depend on the pension scheme your employer has chosen.

Protect your family

This might not be your first thought when it comes to financial resilience, but this is an important step if you have people who depend on you.

Read more: Gender pay gap fuelled by 'lack of pay transparency'

It’s worth thinking about life insurance as well as insurance that would protect your income if you were to become too ill to work.

Writing a will can also provide peace of mind, say the experts

Watch: How to prevent getting into debt