AFRICANGLOBE – Women earn less, on average, than their male counterparts, take time out from their careers to look after children, and typically live longer than men. All of these factors compromise their financial well-being. So what’s a woman to do? Here are five suggestions.
1. Boost your income
Women in South Africa earn about 25 percent less than men, on average, according to the most recent statistics from the South African Revenue Service. If you are not being paid what your male counterparts are being paid, you need to negotiate an increase. This can be challenging, particularly if you’ve been taught that it’s not “ladylike” to talk about money.
You can find out if your earnings are below par by contacting a recruitment consultant who specialises in placements in your industry, or a company that specialises in research on salaries.
Debbie Marshall, a human resources consultant, says the best time to have a conversation with your employer about your salary is when you have your annual performance review or when your salary is increased annually.
“We know that not all people with the same title are doing the same job, so go into the meeting armed with facts; the discussion must be around your contribution relative to your peers and the value that you add to the company. But the key is to negotiate hard from the get-go, before you accept a job, because trying to catch up later is very hard,” Marshall says.
If you want to boost your income, you first need to believe in yourself and in your capabilities, Logie Govender, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professional and the regional manager at NMG Retirement Funds, says. Understand your strengths, have the courage to be tough and see the bigger picture, she says. The “bigger picture” is loss of earnings. If you earn R15 000 a month and you’re earning 25 percent less than you should be, you’re losing R5 000 a month, or R60 000 a year.
Even if you are not underpaid, you should consider ways in which you could increase your income. Consider whether you could work overtime or do freelance work.
Soré Cloete, a CFP professional and senior legal adviser at Old Mutual, says any extra income should go first to paying off expensive debt (personal loans, an overdraft, and credit card and store card debt) and then be channelled into a savings vehicle, such as a retirement annuity (RA), which has significant tax advantages. Make sure you choose an RA that does not charge penalties if you aren’t able to maintain your contributions.