What Filipino Women Should Know About Money
It just got harder to be a woman in the Philippines. We may still be the best country in Asia-Pacific in terms of gender equality, but we fell four places in 2014, down to #9 — and in the category of “economic participation and opportunity,” which covers salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment, we dropped from #16 in the world to #24. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report claims that the global gender pay gap won’t be closed for 81 years.
This data shows that money is different for women. Not only do they earn less, experts say that women tend to be less financially literate than men. “This problem persists even as women handle many of their families’ routine money management duties, like paying bills and making many purchasing decisions,” writes Tara Siegel Bernard in the New York Times article Moving Past Gender Barriers to Negotiate a Raise.
We’re guessing you’re not going to wait 81 years for equal pay and greater financial literacy. Take control of your finances by reading up on what Filipino women should know about money and how to handle it:
- Strive for financial independence.
“I truly believe that women should be financially independent from their men.” That’s a direct quote from Beyonce herself. So make like Beyonce and teach yourself financial literacy. Understand your cash flow, and increase it if you can. Set financial goals. Have emergency funds. Start investing, whether that’s in unit investment trust funds or playing the stock market. Save for retirement. Be smart and you can be well on your way to financial independence, which will give you control over your future.
- Ask for a raise. The Philippines gets a score of 79% for “wage equality for similar work”. This means that generally, a woman earns P79 to a man’s P100 for doing the same job. So if you’re doing a spectacular job at work, don’t be afraid to ask for a raise. But asking for a raise can be trickier for women than for men, according to the same New York Times article mentioned earlier. “Women need to take a more calibrated approach, whether in asking for a higher salary or a new position. Otherwise, they can risk being perceived as overly demanding and unlikable, experts say, and their requests can backfire.” So ask — but do it the right way. Learn how by reading our guide to getting that raise.
- Talk to your partner. You and your long-term partner should be on the same page when it comes to finances. Disagreements about money can lead to serious arguments and put a considerable strain on your relationship. Learn how to talk money with your partner with our guide, and work on your financial future together.
- Take care of your health. Women have different health concerns than men do. For example, the Philippines has the highest rate of breast cancer in all of Asia, and the lowest survival rate among 15 Asian countries. One in 13 women is at risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. Filipino women also live longer than men (in 2012, the average for women was 72.07 years, and 65.20 for men), so that means more health issues to worry about down the road. Prepare for all these eventualities. Get health insurance to mitigate the costs of illnesses. Also consider health and accident plans that cover all health-related costs. Your health is an asset — protect it.
- Plan way ahead if you want kids. You may not want kids, and that’s great. But if you do, you’re going to have to do a lot of planning. Do you know how much it costs to raise a baby these days? Costs could run up to as much as P500,000 a year. Start putting aside money for your future baby early on, so that when your bundle of joy arrives, you’re well prepared financially.
- Watch out for lifestyle inflation. Is your salary growing, but you still find yourself living from paycheck to paycheck? You may be a victim of lifestyle inflation. The more you make, the more you spend; this is a hard cycle to get out of. While before you may have been perfectly content with Payless Shoe Store, now you gotta have Jimmy Choos — leaving no money for savings. “People tend to increase their spending each time their income increases, because they believe that the additional goods and services they are purchasing will make them happier,” Investopedia says. Now, we’re not saying you shouldn’t enjoy your bigger paychecks. Instead, along with your increased spending, make a conscious, increased effort to save. This way, you get to enjoy your money while also making headway towards financial independence.
To quote Beyonce again, “Ladies, it ain’t easy bein’ independent.” But you have the power over your financial future. And once you’ve worked to take control of it, the financial security you get will be worth all the effort.