William Huston, AIF®, AIFA®

Women and Money: Financial Steps for Life

William Huston, AIF®, AIFA®

William Huston, AIF®, AIFA®

Women and Money: Financial Steps for Life

As the gender pay gap widens and the cost of living continues to shoot up, it is important now more than ever for women to earn their own money, be financially stable and literate. This not only helps them build a secure financial future for themselves and their families, but also for the future generations

group of women discussing finances

Compared to the 1900s when life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years, in 2021 it was reported to have risen to just over 76. When we live longer, we spend more of our lives caring for ourselves and others and all of this can negatively affect our financial situation. With the high cost of living and inflation today, women require more financial security as compared to their male partners.

two women discussing finances

“No matter how much women prefer to lean, to be protected and supported, nor how much men prefer to have them do so, they must make the voyage of life alone, and for safety in an emergency they must know something of the laws of navigation.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1892

These words were uttered by one of America’s most prominent women’s rights leaders almost 130 years ago. Yet they are just as appropriate in 2023 as they were during the late 19th century. Lack of financial tools and knowledge can put women at a substantial disadvantage in navigating both everyday financial decisions and occasional big ones.

However, all is not lost as there are many resources that women can utilize to reach their financial goals. One key step that women can take to improve their financial position is working with a financial advisor. By doing so, women can gain the knowledge and skills in order to gain more financial independence. To get in touch with one of our certified advisors, schedule an appointment with Denise here.

Key Points
  • As the gender pay gap continues to widen, it is very key that women become financially independent and acquire their own financial assets so as to secure their future and that of their families
  • In the U.S. in 2022, women earned an average of 82% of what men earned
  • Women have specific financial needs because on average, they live longer than men, they earn less than men do and they may have gaps in their employment history that will impact future retirement benefits
  • Some of the money and financial challenges that women face include: Gender discrimination, unequal pay, lack of proper negotiation skills, career interruptions, limited access to financial education and limited access to funding
  • It is important for women to be financially stable as this enables them to live life on their own terms and pursue career opportunities without worrying about the financial consequences of job changes or taking time off for family responsibilities

The contents of this article are for educational purposes only. They are not intended to be a source of professional financial advice. You will find experts on financial planning, financial management, and real estate here. More on disclaimers here.

The Numbers on Personal Finance and Women

two women discussing finance

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full and part time workers, the gender gap in pay has remained relatively stable in the U.S. over the past 20 years or so. In 2022, women earned an average of 82% of what men earned. These numbers haven't changed much from 2002, when women earned 80% as much as men.

Statistics also tell us that it is only a matter of time before most women experience being on their own financially. That is because some will never get married, some will see their marriages end in divorce and many may end up outliving their husbands.

Women have specific financial needs for the following reasons:

  • They live longer than men. On average, women have a life expectancy of 79 years, compared with men's, which is about 73. So their money needs to last longer for them to attain financial freedom.
  • They earn less, on average, than men do. Women earn an average of 82% of what men earn.
  • They may have gaps in their employment history that will impact future retirement benefits. This is because of reasons such as caregiving responsibilities and maternity leave.
  • They are impacted more severely than most men are by events like widowhood and divorce. This is because of factors such as social norms and expectations that place a greater burden on women for caregiving and household duties. Women may also experience a greater loss of social support networks and face financial challenges in the aftermath of these events.
  • Some women lack financial experience due to fear and avoidance of money as a topic as well as lack of formal education on financial matters, such as budgeting, investing and managing debt. For some, it is because they were taught that “the man is supposed to handle the money.”
  • I learned in a recent Next Gen Personal Finance webinar that the un-controlled gender pay gap is 82 percent (i.e., on average, women earn 82 cents for every dollar men do) and the controlled pay gap (using data for men and women with the same job and qualifications) is 98 percent. There are smaller gender gaps for younger than older workers as gender gaps are “career progressive” and widen over time with job level and age. There are also smaller gaps where salaries are fixed (e.g., salary schedules and union contracts) via those where managers have some latitude.

Though a 2 percent pay gap does not sound like a big deal, it is. Invested at a 7 percent return over a career, it can add up to almost $200,000.

When COVID-19 hit, it exacerbated gender pay gaps, as women were more likely to work in affected industries and to care for children who were remote-schooling. As we have seen, people’s work lives and home lives are intertwined.

A key takeaway from the NGPF webinar was the need to teach women how to negotiate a starting salary and promote themselves.

Otherwise, they will be forever behind because future percentage raises (e.g., 4 percent) will be based on a lower initial starting point. The following three tips were suggested for women to overcome pay gaps:

Money and Financial Challenges That Women Face

There are several money and financial challenges that women face which can create a pay gap. These challenges include:

Gender discrimination

Despite efforts to eliminate gender discrimination, women still face discrimination in the workplace, which can result in lower salaries and fewer opportunities for career advancement.

Unequal pay
woman assessing her finances

Women are often paid less than men for the same job. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, women earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Lack of proper negotiation skills

Women are less likely to negotiate their salaries and benefits than men, which can result in them being offered lower salaries and fewer benefits.

Career interruptions
stay-at-home mom with her kids

Women are more likely to take time off from work to care for children or other family members, which can result in them earning less over their lifetimes.

Limited access to financial education

Women may not have access to the same financial education and resources as men, which can result in them being less knowledgeable about managing their finances and investing.

Limited Access to Funding

Women entrepreneurs may face difficulty accessing funding for their businesses due to gender bias in the venture capital industry.

Addressing these challenges requires a combination of policy changes, employer initiatives, and individual action. Employers can take steps to eliminate gender bias and ensure pay equity, while individuals can work to improve their negotiation skills and financial literacy. Public policy can also play a role in addressing these issues by providing support for affordable child care and family leave policies, promoting equal pay laws, and supporting women-owned businesses.

Why is it Important for Women to be Financially Stable?

women discussing finance

It is important for women to be financially stable for several reasons:


Financial stability gives women the independence to make their own choices and live life on their own terms, without being dependent on anyone else. This can help them reach their goals faster and attain financial independence.

Career opportunities
women at the top of the career ladder

Women who are financially stable can pursue career opportunities without worrying about the financial consequences of job changes or taking time off for family responsibilities.


Women tend to live longer than men, so it's essential that they have retirement savings that will enable them to be financially stable in retirement to support themselves for a longer period.

Family support
a financially stable family

Women often play a critical role in providing financial support for their families. Being financially stable can help women provide for their families' needs and ensure their children's future.


Financial stability can provide the foundation for starting a business or pursuing entrepreneurial ventures, which can lead to greater financial success and independence.

Financial Steps That Women can Take to Improve Their Financial Position

Saving and investing are great places to start your financial journey, but more women need to have a financial strategy that will enable them to attain financial freedom. Here are some steps that can help in that journey.

Talk about salaries and careers

Discuss salaries, jobs, and money with co-workers in a casual, general way. As you get more comfortable talking about finances, consider asking peers, especially males, what they make, even if it makes you uncomfortable.

Avoid exact dollar amounts

Avoid sounding too direct and off-putting by asking people to divulge their exact salary amount. Instead, ask questions like “Do you make over $X?” or “Do you make under $Y?”

Practice negotiation skills

Develop and rehearse a “script” that focuses on your education, skills, and recent accomplishments. Emphasize how you can add value to an employer and help it to accomplish its mission. Role-play negotiations with family or friends to practice making proposals and counter proposals.

Start saving and investing early
saving for investment

The earlier you start saving, the more time your money has to grow. Begin by setting up a budget and saving a percentage of your income each month.

Build an emergency fund

Set aside 3-6 months' worth of expenses in an emergency savings account for unexpected expenses or job loss.

Invest in retirement

Open and contribute to your retirement accounts, such as a 401(k) or IRA, as soon as possible. Consider increasing your contribution over time.

Start working with a financial advisor

Working with a financial advisor can provide women with valuable guidance and support in managing their finances. A financial advisor can help women develop a personalized financial plan, set financial goals, and make informed decisions about investments and savings. They can also provide education and resources on financial topics such as budgeting, debt management, retirement planning, and estate planning.

By working with a financial advisor, women can gain the knowledge and skills they need to improve their financial position and achieve their long-term financial goals.

Manage debt

Pay off high-interest debt and credit card debt first and avoid taking on too much debt in the future.

Plan for major purchases

Whether it's a home or a car, plan and save for major purchases in advance.

Educate yourself about investing

Learn about different types of investments, such as stocks and bonds, and consider working with a financial advisor.

Protect your assets

Consider getting insurance to protect against unexpected events, such as disability, illness, or death.

Plan for the future

Create a will, designate beneficiaries and consider estate planning.

The Bottom Line

A more contemporary twist on Stanton’s quote is the saying “If it is to be, it is up to me.” Today is the first day of the rest of your financial life. Make the most of it. All women should learn one new thing every day about personal finance and never consider your financial education finished.

If you're looking to get started on your financial journey and would like to work with one of our certified advisors, schedule an appointment with Denise here.

Bay Street Capital Holdings

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Bay Street Capital Holdings is an independent investment advisory, wealth management, and financial planning firm headquartered in Palo Alto, CA. They manage portfolios with the goal of maintaining and increasing total assets and income with a high priority on managing total risk and volatility.

The firm was founded by William Huston after 13 years of supporting the United States' largest retirement plan ($650B) Thrift Savings Plan. In Scottsdale Arizona, Ekenna Anya-Gafu CFP, AAMS is recognized among the Best Financial Advisors for his responsiveness, friendliness, helpfulness, and detail. Bay Street was founded to advocate for diverse and emerging fund managers and entrepreneurs.








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