According to a survey conducted by Bustle, 63 percent of women have credit card debt while only 33 percent of men in the same age group have this type of debt. In a society where the latter earns more, this is no longer a surprise.
There are areas in which gender gap is becoming almost non-existent, such as marriage, the workplace, and parenting. However, differences between men and women still lead to gaps in various areas that include wages and debt.
The Gender Gap Explained
Women pay more for their financial obligations than men do, but they also owe more on certain types of debts. For instance, the average student loan total for graduates in 2015 was $35,000. However, women have a harder time paying this off from their first job after graduation due to making average lower incomes. As a result, men paid off at least 7 percent more of their student loans than women.
While student loans might feel like a burden, they are not really a bad thing. Financial experts consider them to be good debts because of the tax benefits on the interest paid. Paying off student loans should not stop women from investing in retirement or emergency funds.
The bad news is that women also tend to take on more bad debts than men, such as credit card balances. Due to lower income, some women resort to credit cards to supplement their monthly budget. This should not be the case. Use credit cards only for convenience and repay the balance in full, on or before the due date.
What Causes the Gender Gap?
The debt and wage gender gaps are proportionate to one another and many factors contribute to these problems affecting women. Here are some of them:
Though women have better access to higher education at present than they have in the past, the trend is unequal across ethnicities and races. While Asian and white women outpace their male counterparts when it comes to college enrollment, other minorities are still lagging.
There is also a bias among employers on how they view degrees earned by women and men. Women need to earn an additional degree to get the same benefits available to men. For instance, a woman with a doctorate degree earns the same as a man with only a bachelor’s degree. This disparity makes women spend more on their education, which in turn increases their student debt.
Women are expected to take care of their families, especially children. They often need to take years off work in order to rear their offspring. Some employers even discriminate against mothers in terms of starting salaries and perceived competence. On the other hand, men get better salaries, even when they are fathers.
How to Close the Debt Gender Gap
There are several things women can do to close the debt gender gap. Keep in mind that results will not happen overnight. Getting positive results requires patience and perseverance. Following these tips can help women eliminate the debt gap altogether.
A study found that women are not as assertive as men when it comes to negotiating their salaries. Due to their lack of negotiation, women already have a disadvantage from the day they start working. The good news is that some companies stopped salary negotiation to close the wage gap. However, some companies still practice it and that’s why women should learn the art of negotiating.
While it is easier said than done, the best way to close the debt gap is to save money. If you have credit card debt, one way to do this is by transferring the balance of high interest cards to a card offering 0 percent interest. If you do this, consider not charging your future purchases and try to pay off the outstanding balance before any zero-interest promotions expire. By doing so, you can save on high interest payments.
Another way to save money is to have a maximum of two credit cards at a time. If you have more than two, get rid of your other cards. One card is enough for daily use, but you’ll never know when you might lose it or a vendor will not accept it. That’s why it is advisable to keep two different cards.
Credit cards are not bad when used in a wise manner. The best way to learn how to use your card is to understand its terms. You should also read the conditions of each card and find out all the fees the issuer is charging. When you completely understand how a card works, that is the only time you start swiping.
After credit cards, women struggle a great deal in paying off their student loans. For many, it is a thorn in their side that they can’t get rid of. There are some ways to make it easier to pay off your student loans. One of them is to set payments on auto-pay every month. That way you don’t forget to pay on time. Most justrightloans lenders also offer discounts up to 0.25 percent off the interest rate for automated payments.
If you pay on time regularly, you can sometimes negotiate with creditors for lower interest rates. There’s no harm in asking and you can even do so every six months. Some lenders will not reduce the rates, while there are others that will.
Another way to tackle student loans is to have them refinanced. However, this option is only available for people with good credit. Refinancing loans is the best way to reduce interest rates and get better terms.
If repaying the student loans gets in the way of achieving other goals, consider reducing your expenses. Preparing food at home or taking a staycation instead of going overseas can help improve your financial situation. It can also help prevent taking on more debts.
Take Control of Your Future
Don’t wait for changes to happen in society. Change the mindset towards managing your finances instead.
Following these simple steps can help women close the debt gender gap. They can also help you control your debts at a manageable level and achieve your financial goals.