Yay, it’s International Women’s Day! What are we going to do to celebrate?
We could start a bloody revolution that changes the course of history for the century. Oh wait, that’s already been done – by the Russians in 1917. Yep, for realz. The revolution kicked off when thousands of women took to the streets protesting against food shortages on IWD 100 years ago.
There was no hashtag for it then, and not even a Snapchat story, so did it even happen?
But anyway don’t let me get started on history stuff because I won’t get to the real point. And that is: equality means equal pay and equal opportunity, and we don’t have either of those yet.
I don’t really want to delve into the 17% pay gap issue – or more concerningly, the huuuge gap between men’s and women’s super balances (up to half, in some age groups). But they exist, they suck and they appear to be stubbornly sticking around.
But those stats are averages, and we all know that Fierce Girls don’t care about averages. We defy averages. And so here is the Fierce Girl’s Guide to being a grown-up woman who tells the patriarchy to go back to the 20th century where it belongs.
1. Get serious about tracking your spending. I have been resistant to this whole idea for years. I am not that kind of girl. But then I got to my last payday and had seriously messed up cashflow issues. (Yep, I am far from perfect with money).
Thing is, I didn’t feel like I spent much. Sure I had to pay rego and stuff for my car, and it was holidays etc. But seriously where did my cash go? So I downloaded the MoneySmart TrackMySpend app (totally free, thanks Government!) and started recording.
And then I realised that this exercise is life-changing in the same way as keeping a food diary. When you have to write it down, you don’t want to spend/eat it. It’s a serious accountability tool.
And so, it’s not until you create some proper boundaries and systems that you can truly get on top of things.
2. Get your super sorted. I know, super is dull and stuff, but it really, really makes a difference when you get onto it early. And it’s a quick and easy adult task you can tick off.
If you only do one thing, find your forgotten super and roll it into one account (speak to your fave super fund and they will likely do it for you).
If you do two things, make sure your fund has all your correct details and check how much you have saved. Knowing the amount can really make it feel like real money that you own.
And if you get really effing excited, review your investment option. Are you taking on the right level of risk for your age? If you’re under 45 or so, you might want to boost returns with a more aggressive approach. But I’m not qualified to tell you that – call your fund and ask them.
And finally, at Defcon 5 level of super enthusiasm, put some extra money in! Did you know any amount you put in from your pre-tax salary gets taxed at 15% – instead of your income tax rate of up to 47%?
Anyway, I have a whoooole post about super – one of my fave topics – that I would point you to.
3. Have a separate, possibly secret, stash of money. If you’re a single gal, this is simple – just put a bit away, every pay, into a separate account that has an extra level of irritation to access e.g. a separate online bank or a term deposit. Just as long as you can’t crack into it for a 2am round of shots or for a mid-arvo premenstrual retail therapy session.
This is money to buffer you against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
If you’re coupled up, just make sure it’s separate. You need something that you can call on if the relationship goes south. Whether it’s secret is up to you. Marriage vows, trust, partnership – I get it, they matter. Totes up to you. Just have the cash, one way or another.
Oh, right, here’s a post about this very issue. (Just be careful your ex-husband and his lawyer don’t read it and accuse you of hiding assets in your divorce settlement) (and yes that actually happened).
4. Learn some stuff about money and investing and finance. This stuff might seem a little boring. And it is, I guess, compared to iPanda – an entire website dedicated to baby pandas (which I HIGHLY recommend).
However, can a panda cub give you security, opportunities and choices? No, only cash money can do that. So take an interest. Read some blogs like this or Financy. Listen to podcasts like Freakonomics or Planet Money. Maybe even check out the personal finance or business sections of the newspapers.
Knowledge is power, and money is power. So put those together and you will be a total bad-arse WonderWoman, wielding a calculator and making it rain.
Also, talk to your girlsquad about this stuff. As much as it’s important to discuss the hotness of young Justin Trudeau, it’s also useful to share your tips, challenges and ideas about money. And to support their money goals. (Oh wait, here’s another blog I prepared earlier!)
So, the message here is simple. Being empowered requires money. And the better you are at managing that money, the more we will be worthy of all the opportunities and privileges our foremothers fought for. So go forth and be fierce!