The financial vulnerability of women
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about why more women are in debt counselling (see related articles). My gut feel at the time was that a high percentage of women in debt counselling were single mothers.
Debt counselling company DebtBusters did some research for me and my gut feel was spot on. The figures are frightening. According to Ian Wason, CEO of Intelligent Debt Management which owns DebtBusters, 75% of female applicants for debt review are single mothers.
Out of this 75%, less than 35% receive any maintenance at all from the fathers of their children and less than 10% receive regular maintenance. By far the largest group are black single mothers not receiving maintenance.
Old Mutual undertook research a few years ago that showed that poverty affects more women, with 80% of them falling into the low income category,
Of these 44% were single mothers, 32% divorced and 83% of them were solely responsible for their children.
So, men please bear with us when we write over and over again about women and finances—it is a real problem and one that society certainly needs to deal with. However it’s also a problem that women need to start dealing with on a personal level.
The Old Mutual research found that:
- The majority of women older than 55 depend on their husbands for retirement planning and most were left destitute after the death of their partners. This was because women outlive their spouses by at least seven years on average.
- A massive 87% of widowed or divorced women older than 60 depended on their children or on welfare.
- Only six percent of women said that they make additional contributions to their retirement funds over and above their regular monthly amounts, compared to 13% of men.
- About 59% of women admitted to taking all or some of their company retirement funds out as cash when leaving their jobs, compared to 49% of men.
- South African women made up 41% of the working population and outlived men by seven years.
For many women who live in destitute environments society needs to find solutions. However most female readers of the Mail & Guardian can make a difference to their finances by sitting down today and creating a financial plan that does not require a man. We need to remember as mothers to set an example to our children and to also put ourselves first so that we are not a financial burden to our children in our later years.
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