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How To Empower Yourself Through Financial Literacy

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Financial Literacy

Let’s face it—women deal with a lot. We often carry the emotional burden of our relationships, and we also need to care for our families, prioritize our health, grow our careers, and plan for our financial future. 

And the latter is often the most challenging thing to do. 

We need to educate ourselves properly to help us make financial decisions. And this all starts with financial literacy. 

What is financial literacy?

Financial literacy is your capability to understand and use your skills to keep track of your money and investments. This includes financial management, determining (and sticking to) a budget, and investing for the future. 

Having money is no longer a way to make a living; you need to be able to track your finances and plan ahead. 

Financial literacy can help you form a healthier relationship with your money and is the first step to achieving financial goals. 

Why Financial Literacy Matters for Women

Financial literacy is vital for everyone, but women have historically been excluded from financial discussions, putting us at a disadvantage. 

By understanding your finances and financial concepts, you can make informed financial choices, leading to greater independence. You’ll be prepared for emergencies and keep your head above water with the constant increases in the cost of living.

The gender gap is no secret. Women often earn less than men, struggling to make a basic living. But by becoming financially literate, you can enhance your role in the economy and work toward investing for your future, even if you earn less than your male counterparts. 

Basic Financial Literacy: Saving for Your Future

Budgeting

The first step to mastering financial literacy is understanding how to budget. You must track all your income and expenses at the most basic level. This practice will help you see where you’re wasting money and where you can set money aside for savings. 

There are plenty of free budgeting apps available to help you get started. Play around with a few apps to determine the best for your situation.

Savings accounts:

Placing your money in a savings account is an excellent way to save. Several different types of savings accounts are at your disposal:

  • Fixed-rate: This is great for long-term savings. Interest rates are high, but you won’t be able to access your money for a set period (unless you pay a fee).
  • Instant access: These accounts have lower interest rates, but you can access your money without a fee. 
  • Individual savings account: These accounts offer tax advantages since you don’t have to pay tax on your interest (up to a limit). 

Understanding credit

First things first: know your credit score. Your credit score is a number that shows how reliable you are when borrowing money and repaying it. Your score ranges from “very poor” to “excellent.”

In the UK, three credit reference agencies use your credit history to generate your credit score:

  1. Experian
  2. Equifax
  3. TransUnion (formerly Callcredit)

These three agencies each have a different method of calculating scores.

But why is your credit score important?

If you need to take out a loan, lenders will check your score to determine how risky it is to lend you money. An excellent score can also help you get credit cards or mortgages approved.

Getting loans with a poor credit score is still possible, but your interest rates will be impossibly high. 

You need to be responsible with your credit card to ensure a good credit score. When you use a credit card to purchase goods, always repay on time. Also, don’t buy on credit unless it is necessary. 

Investing

Investing is about creating a financial safety net and planning for the future. It can help you grow your money (if you make intelligent investment decisions). 

Different types of investments are available, depending on your experience and the amount of risk you’re willing to take. 

  • Stocks: When you buy a stock, you own a portion of the company and become a “shareholder.” The company will pay dividends to its shareholders. 
  • Mutual fund: This is a pool with money from several investors. A wealth manager manages it. The money is invested across a range of assets. 
  • Real estate investment trusts (REITs): These trusts invest in real estate properties (commercial or residential) and pay distributions to the investors from any rental income received. 
  • Options: Options trading is not for beginners. Options contracts give purchasers the right to sell or buy an asset at a preestablished price within a specific period and without obligation.
  • Bonds: When buying a bond, you essentially lend money to a corporation or government. The bond issuer will pay you back the purchase price, as well as interest, over the lifetime of the bond. 
  • Certificates of Deposit (CDs): CDs are offered by most banks. You make a fixed deposit, which will earn interest until the maturity date. If you withdraw funds early, you will have to pay a penalty. 

Conclusion

Becoming financially literate can help you live a more independent life. By understanding your finances and developing key skills, you can save up for the future you want. 

If you wish to travel the world, drive a nice car, or simply live comfortably, knowing how to budget, save, and invest can get you there. 

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