From the wage gap to the pink tax, it’s no secret women face additional financial barriers. And for millennial women, managing to save or invest their money is a particular challenge.
“Millennial women are generally between the ages of 28 and 42 so they are in the thick of young adult life and all of its money challenges. It is tough to generalize because there is a wide range of experiences but these are the years that many will be creating families of their own as adults so this is when life, from a money perspective, gets serious,” Bobbi Rebell, certified financial planner and founder of Financial Wellness Strategies, says.
But even as inflation is adding pressure to their budgets, millennial women in the U.S. want to save, according to a recent survey from Credello. With the right financial strategy, women can overcome some of these challenges and achieve financial independence.
[READ: How the Pandemic Hurt (and Helped) Women Financially.]
Inflation’s Impact on Millennial Women
Many Americans are struggling to make ends meet during this period of high inflation. And according to data from the World Economic Forum, this global crisis is affecting women more severely than men.
“Inflation disproportionately impacts spending categories aimed at women and the female equivalent of male products or services,” says Alissa Krasner Maizes, founder of Amplify My Wealth.
Rebell adds that in a world where women are already making less money than their male counterparts, rising prices create an even heavier burden.
“Given that women also earn less than men, this puts a higher burden on women who already face unique obstacles when it comes to their finances,” Rebell says.
When everyday expenses take up a larger portion of their budgets, it makes it more difficult for women to prioritize saving and investing. In more extreme cases, women may be incurring additional debt to get by, which can add up over time.
Millennial Women Face Additional Financial Challenges
It’s not just inflation that’s preventing millennial women from saving. A persistent gender pay gap in the U.S. is partially to blame.
According to Cary Carbonaro, senior vice president and director of women and wealth at AMC Wealth Services, the wealth management team of Advisors Capital Management LLC, “Women save less because they make less.”
“They are out of the workforce caregiving for children or parents in later years. In general, they invest more conservatively than men and many stay in cash for fear of losing money,” she says.
She also adds that we still have a way to go to achieve financial equality — and that women will continue to struggle along the way.
“Although the institution by some states of laws requiring pay transparency is an excellent gesture toward achieving financial equality, we have yet to see the intended results,” Maizes says.
In addition, women often don’t have the same financial literacy as men, whether from a lack of tailored education to their needs or societal pressures to leave money decisions to others.
[READ: 12 Best Free Online Personal Finance Courses.]
Despite Challenges, Women Still Want to Save and Invest
Even with a slew of additional challenges, young women still want to make good financial decisions, Credello finds.
According to its survey, 32% of millennial women are somewhat optimistic about saving for retirement and another 16% are very optimistic, despite additional challenges. And even though 63% of respondents said they are spending most of their money on daily expenses, these women still have a positive outlook about their financial futures.
Exactly how that looks might vary from their male counterparts.
Credello found that 23% of women would rather save for retirement or build an emergency fund than invest. Additionally, 39% would rather invest in real estate than stocks. Seventy percent of survey respondents took the next step and bought a home on their own.
[READ: How Much Should You Contribute to a 401(k)?]
Tips for Millennial Women Trying to Save
“While you alone cannot change the financial inequity of paying more for the same things men purchase or inflation, you can control your expenses and how you spend your money,” Maizes says.
Even with challenges such as the pink tax, rising prices of everyday goods and a wage gap, there are tips you can follow to take charge of your money:
— Identify your core values. According to Maizes, the first step to taking control of your finances is identifying what’s important to you and setting goals accordingly.
— Save as much as possible. “My answer is to always save and invest as much as possible,” Carbonaro says. “Women have longer life expectancies so need more in retirement, not less. They also spend more on health care. If you can set up buckets of money for the future, you can have unlimited choices and overcome all of this.”
— Outsmart the pink tax. The pink tax is not always avoidable, but when it is, buying the men’s version of a product can help put a bit of money back in your budget, Rebell says.
— Consult an expert. “Take your financial independence back by empowering yourself with a fiduciary financial advisor providing you with a plan, advice and guidance on your financial journey,” Maizes says. A financial planner can also tailor advice to your specific needs and challenges.
— Support lasting change. Part of setting up positive financial futures for women is working to eliminate the challenges they are currently facing. “Consider ‘speaking up’ by supporting female-owned brands addressing gender-related financial inequities. Your female voice and dollar can help change this disparity one word and dollar at a time,'” Maizes says.
Saving money and investing in your future is critical for achieving financial independence. Even with the additional challenges women face regarding this goal, the right strategy can help you get there.
“Empowering yourself with your finances and a value-driven expense plan rather than leaving your finances to chance is the best way to conquer the challenges of inflation and be ready for your expenses now and always,” Maizes says.
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How Millennial Women Can Overcome Savings Barriers originally appeared on usnews.com