From a very young age my mother set me up with a bank account, showed me how to budget and explained to me why savings are so important for women.
Her advice came not from a place of intergenerational wealth or education, but experience. Like many women of her generation, my mother had to learn how to manage money through the raw experience of financial hardship. Struggling to keep a household afloat on one income, with a sick husband and a young daughter – my mother’s ability to make a dollar work twice as hard still inspires me.
Our money habits and finances impact every area of our lives. Without a strong foundation of financial literacy, life can become more challenging. We can feel like the future is out of our hands.
Being financially literate can mean that you have the power to create stable and secure lives for yourself and your loved ones. It can also mean that you can use your resources to support and empower other wom*n!
But what is financial literacy?
Financial literacy is a journey. Your journey may start at a different point or take a different path. You might be starting your journey by learning to open a bank account or working out how tax works for your first job. Or maybe you’re further along in your journey and learning how to tackle debt or starting to invest.
Wherever you are on your financial literacy journey, the end goal is the same – to understand how money works in a broader sense (it’s the economy stupid!), as well as understanding how it applies to us as individuals in how we earn money, spend money, and manage money in our lives.
I don’t know about you, but in my high school home economics class, no one ever mentioned investing, rainy day funds or superannuation. You know, actual information that would in fact affect my long-term financial security and the ‘home economics’ of my life. Sure, I learned how to make amazing scones, but I’d rather know about index funds!
Why is financial literacy important for women?
I won’t sugarcoat it for you. We’re fighting against centuries of white men holding all the financial power in society.
Wom*n face a unique set of challenges when it comes to our finances. It is impossible to ignore how these challenges funnel their way into the statistics we all know about wom*n’s economic insecurity relating to the gender pay gap, superannuation gaps, and more.
The good news is that financial literacy (and advocacy!) is a tool we can use to combat the structural and social injustices we face, and to bring other wom*n along with us on our journey.
How can I become more financially literate?
Here are some good resources to help us become our more financially literate selves:
She’s On The Money, by Victoria Devine – Podcast
She’s On The Money was created by women for women, aiming to take the fear out of finance and help you make better money decisions.
If you’re just learning the basics, She’s On The Money might be a little bit more difficult to grasp, but if you’re looking for tips to eliminate debt, understand superannuation or start investing, then this is the one for you!
You can also join the She’s On The Money Facebook group to support and learn from other wom*n on their own financial journeys!
Ladies Talk Money – free online program
The brainchild of Jessica Brady (Financial Adviser and Co-Founder of Fox & Hare) and Chandel Brandimarti (Pure Finance), Ladies Talk Money tackles the complicated relationship between women, their finances and the barriers that are keeping them from achieving true financial equality. It is a place for women to connect, converse and take control of their finances.
The Barefoot Investor, by Scott Pape – Book
An Australian classic, Pape bought personal finance to the masses. Pape’s approach to personal finance is easy to understand and his book can be a great place to start to understand budgeting basics.
The Barefoot Investor has no gender lens in sight, let alone any intersectional analysis on disability, race, sexuality or class, but it does offer a clear vision of the financial basics, so take the advice that’s relevant to you.
My Millennial Money, by Glen James – Podcast
A great source for, you guessed it – millennials! My Millennial Money covers a HUGE range of money topics, from the most basic foundation questions, right up to trying to find the right mortgage broker. It even has a couple of spinoff podcasts like My Millennial Property and My Millennial Career, for those looking for more niche financial information.
Just like The Barefoot Investor, My Millennial Money isn’t always conscious of intersectionality, but as the podcast expands, the team seems to be making an effort to be more inclusive.
Who else can I speak to for more help?
If you’re struggling with your finances, speak to a professional. If you’ve got some big financial goals to smash and the $$$ to do so, find yourself a financial advisor. You can find a whole list of them and their ratings on Adviser Ratings.
If you’re struggling with debt or feeling overwhelmed by your finances, please reach out to the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 – they offer free financial counselling!
Meaghan is a gender equality expert working for YWCA Australia in Adelaide, with a background in international relations and politics. When she’s not penning feminist rants, she enjoys reading books about boss wom*n, baking treats for friends and travelling. She also wants you to know that she’s not a financial advisor or counsellor. She’s a young woman who has had to teach herself all about money from the ground up – but all that learnin’ has sparked a HUGE passion for financial literacy!