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Womens History Month

Women’s Road to Financial Independence

Can you imagine not being able to open your own bank account? Or apply for a loan, despite the fact that you had a job? That was the reality for women before 1970. Women had essentially no financial independence. As we reflect on Women’s History month in March, it is important to consider all of the progress we made to bring us where we are today. Let us not take for granted the opportunities now available to further our financial independence.

Bridging the Gap

One of the biggest hurdles for women to gain financial independence has been the lack of equal pay to men. This has been improved, but not completely removed, by the Equal Pay Act of 1963. This law requires that men and women be paid the same for equal work in the same job. This law has been instrumental in helping women move toward financial independence in the following ways:

  • Increased earnings: The act led to a decrease in the gender wage pay gap which has resulted in higher earnings for women.
  • Improved career opportunities: Women now have access to better paying jobs and can negotiate for higher salaries without fear of discrimination.
  • Increased financial stability: With higher earnings, women are better able to provide for themselves and their families, become financially independent and plan for their future.
  • Increased confidence: For many women, earning equal pay for equal work can be empowering and boost their confidence in the workplace and in other areas of their lives. They likely have the ability to choose relationships because they want to, not because they financially need to. 

Why wouldn’t we want our sisters, daughters, mothers and friends to strive for financial success so they can live the life they choose?

1972 Title IX is Passed

Growing up, most of us were engrained with the notion that our education determines where we land in life. Prior to 1972 women did not have the same access to certain degrees, universities and extra curricular programs. The passing of Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in any educational institution or program that receives federal funding. This law has been crucial in the following ways:

  • Advancing gender equality and opening up opportunities for women in education and athletics. 
  • It helped level the playing field by requiring educational institutions to provide equal access and treatment to all students. 
  • Women were able to participate in sports and extracurricular activities. They also received access to scholarships and financial aid, and pursue degrees and careers in previously male dominated fields. 

The passing of Title IX was a crucial turning point in the history of women’s rights by creating more opportunities not just in sports, but in careers and beyond for women.

Access to Credit

Still, a key step in women’s financial freedom came with the passage in 1974 of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

  • This act prohibited discrimination by creditors on the basis of sex or marital status. 
  • Prior to this, women were often denied credit simply because of their gender, even if they had the financial means to repay the loan. You could have been a gainfully employed woman, but unable to obtain credit without the assistance of a man. 
  • Even if your husband was not employed, he would still need to sign on your behalf. Again, prior to these years, it would be difficult for many women to be able to feel like anything was accessible to them unless they were married. 

Despite these advancements over the past 50 years, women are still behind when it comes to saving and investing. We live longer, are most likely caregivers which take us out of the workforce more often than men, and studies show women still lack confidence in their ability to select investments. But once they create a plan and find the right investing strategy, they often have more success than men. 

Your Financial Independence

Let’s use the lessons from the past as a way to help boost our progress towards great financial independence. Take an interest in the retirement and savings plans offered by your employer. Research what to do with your extra cash from that bonus you just got. Look at your cash flow – save and plan for your long-term goals, not just your partners or families. You are capable of having the same success and wealth as men!

M & A Consulting Group, LLC, doing business as CAM Investor Solutions is an SEC registered investment adviser. As a fee-only firm, we do not receive commissions nor sell any insurance products. We provide financial planning and investment information that we believe to be useful and accurate. However, there cannot be any guarantees. 

This blog has been provided solely for informational purposes and does not represent investment advice. Nor does it provide an opinion regarding fairness of any transaction. It does not constitute an offer, solicitation or a recommendation to buy or sell any particular security or instrument or to adopt any investment strategy.

Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Diversification does not eliminate the risk of market loss. Tax planning and investment illustrations are provided for educational purposes and should not be considered tax advice or recommendations. Investors should seek additional advice from their financial advisor or tax professional.

As a Wealth Advisor and Investment Advisor Representative at CAM Investor Solutions, Sarah Contino, CFP®, specializes in assisting women, especially but not limited to those going through a life transition such as job change, marriage, loss of spouse, and retirement. She also has years of experience helping executives and academics with retirement planning.