Financial wellness: The health check that helps women close the wealth gap

Wellness is more than just your physical health – your financial health is just as important. For women, taking steps to achieve financial well-being can go a long way in overcoming economic inequalities.

When we think of wellness, most of us probably think of things like regular exercise or a balanced diet. But wellness, or the “the active tracking of activities, decisions and lifestyles which lead to a holistic state of health ”, so much more. It can be emotional, spiritual, social and underpin all of that: financially.

Money is a major source of stress for many people, and it often affects our careers, relationships, and overall mental health. Financial wellbeing helps mitigate some of these stressors, but according to Natalie Ferguson, co-founder of the online investment platform hatch, we just don’t think enough about financial health.

“One of the things that I don’t think our industry has done a favor in the past is that finances stand outside of everything else we do in life. Things like investing and working with our money have been made an exclusive club and it makes people think it’s different from general wellbeing, ”she says.

“For most New Zealanders, the ingredients for a really great life are usually things like traveling, time for family and friends, and having a job that you really enjoy – all things where money is an important part.”

According to Ferguson, one of the first steps in promoting financial wellbeing is building a safety net. For example, if you can’t afford to quit an extremely stressful job or book an emergency dentist appointment, it can seriously affect both your physical and mental wellbeing. Even if it’s only a few hundred dollars, an emergency fund can make a huge difference in helping you make not just the cheapest, but the best decision for you overall.

“In the past, people talked about safety nets of three months’ salary, but that is unrealistic for many people,” says Ferguson. “A much easier way to think about it is to find out a number; For example, how much it would cost if your car broke down or if you received an unexpected bill, which could be $ 500 or $ 1,000. Just put it aside and try to do your part if you can and you will find that your stress decreases as your balance increases. “

Once you have that safety net, Ferguson says the next step is to put the money you have left to work to work. At historical lows of around 1% or less, keeping your money in a bank account (as many New Zealanders have traditionally done) means your savings are actually worth less due to inflation (around 2%) and have fewer purchases with power each year . With readily available alternatives these days offering much better returns than a savings account, growing your wealth by investing can really be one of the “easiest ways to change your life.”

Photo: Getty Images (edited)

While many practical barriers to investment have been removed in recent years, a number of psychological hurdles still exist and many feel too intimidated or too illiterate to take the first step. The topic is particularly widespread among women, who historically have had far less access to financial independence, knowledge and gainful employment than men. As a result, women often feel less confident in their financial capabilitieswhich means they are missing out on growth opportunities despite data suggesting they are Women outperform men when it comes to saving and investing.

“A lot of us are guilty if we’re not 110% sure we know everything,” says Ferguson. “My advice is to support yourself and realize that, as with many things, the only way to learn is to actually do it. Investing is a prime example of a relatively simple thing where you can start small and treat that first investment as education. “

Major structural changes, such as the closure of the Gender pay gap, still have to happen for women to feel perfectly safe about their financial position, but Ferguson says this won’t happen overnight.

“Instead, there are very simple things we can do to fill the wealth gap and we can start today,” she says.

For those who want to help close the wealth and trust gap, the best thing you can do is not give people the answer, but rather give them the confidence to find the answer on their own. At Hatch, Ferguson and her co-founder Kristen Lunman started it off by running monthly one-hour webinars called. hold off Wine & Wealth on Wednesdays – a “safe space” for people from all walks of life to manage their money better and to take their first steps with investing “without shame or prejudice”. Your next Wine & Wealth on July 7th focuses on the importance of women’s financial health.

“While your natural instinct when someone comes to you with a problem is to solve it and give them the correct answer, we have determined that it is exactly the wrong thing. Because if your answer is different than what they thought, you’ve actually pushed your confidence back, ”says Ferguson.

“Instead, listen to what they ask and instead of giving them tips, help them come to their own conclusions and see that their approach is different from yours, and that’s fine.” Ferguson,

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