An Up-Hill Battle
Prior to this pandemic, the U.S. system was already plagued with financial unwellness. The APA’s 2017 Stress in America survey reported that 62% of Americans are stressed about money. A Federal Reserve Board survey reported almost half of Americans (44%) can’t cover a $400 emergency without borrowing money or selling something. 34% of Americans say they have $0 in savings (up from 28% in 2015) and 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. The Economic Policy Institute reports that half of all Americans have nothing put away for retirement. The average household with student loan debt has accumulated $46,597 in student loans. The average household with credit card debt has $15,654 in credit card debt.
Spoiler alert! It was worse for women. According to the American Community Survey (ACS), the average woman in the United States makes 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. The gap widens for black women (62 cents), American Indian or Alaska Native (57 cents) and Hispanic women (54 cents). USA Today reported that globally, women may not receive equal pay for another 257 years. The gender pay gap leaves women in the U.S. less prepared to weather a financial blow than men.
Cue a global pandemic (plus the market uncertainty and low job security it brings) and we’ve got ourselves a perfect storm.
Beyond the gender pay gap, and across all classes and races, women are getting hit the hardest by the economic impact of COVID-19. According to Bloomberg, the industries almost entirely shut down by the virus are disproportionately staffed by women. Women hold 53% of restaurant, hotel and accommodation jobs which are seeing layoffs and reduced hours due to social distancing directives. Even more, moms working remotely are taking on the majority of unpaid labor at home while balancing their virtual workday. CNBC and Catalyst reported 54% of parents in the United States fear their chances of receiving a promotion are diminished due to heightened caregiving responsibilities.
In addition to earning less than their male counterparts for the same job, and being more at risk during market and life disrupting moments, like scary life-threatening viruses, women also pay more for basic household items. That’s right. The “pink tax” is the extra cost on many products marketed directly to women, like clothing or hygiene products. $1-2 per item over a lifetime adds up to thousands of extra dollars each.damn.year.
At the start of the pandemic, a shocking 2,651,000 women left the workforce and nearly 60% are women. 54% of Black women said they were laid off or furloughed or had their hours and/or pay reduced because of the pandemic ― compared with 31% of white women and 44% of Black men. Only 27% of white men said this. In December alone, women accounted for 100% of the 140,000 jobs lost in the U.S. economy.
Start Ups & Small Businesses
552,000 new businesses are created each year. 20% fail within the first two years, 45% within five years, and 65% within ten years. 10% succeed as sustainable business. .023% of those who succeed reach over $100 million. 44% of all economic activity comes from small business. 2 out of 3 new jobs created are from small businesses. Small businesses create more new categories, product improvements and new methods than larger companies.
Recent data shows that approximately 163,000 small businesses, mostly restaurants, have disappeared during the pandemic and 98,000 won’t return. But all hope is not lost, as of September 2020, applications to start new businesses are up 12% across the United States. With vaccination distribution in progress, there is a light at the end of the tunnel but it is still too early to know the lasting effects of the pandemic on small businesses.
Many of these issues are systemic, outside of our direct sphere of influence, and are expected to take decades to solve. Now is the time to focus on what we can control.
What Can You Do?
Be Intentional: There is a common saying for entrepreneurs – “Ready, fire, aim” meaning that we often shoot at a target before intentionally aiming the trigger. Now is the time to be intentional and invest in yourself. Take a course, listen to a podcast, and find the resources you need to make values-based decisions with your money. Our money needs to be working harder to keep up.
Don’t be shy…Talk Money: Start talking about it…because not talking about it is costing us big time! Challenge the taboo, open the lines of communication with friends and family and lift the veil of secrecy. If we can’t talk money with our close friends and family, how are we supposed to talk money with our employees and our vendors. Talking money builds trust in relationships and transparency that in turn helps us negotiate better.
Ask for Help: It’s too easy to burn out right now! Identify the causes of burnout, protect yourself and don’t be afraid to raise your hand when you need help. Ask your network for advice and ask your customers for feedback. Women do better when they have strong female friends to cheer them on, lift them up, connect them with others and support them in hard times. Never underestimate the value of your peers.
Negotiate: Lowering costs can be a life saver when money coming in the door is limited. Call and ask your suppliers, landlord and bank what they can offer you to lower your costs. They don’t want to lose a customer and it’s an easy way to practice your negotiation skills.
For more information, check out The 411k’s podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio and the411k.com.
Have a burning finance question or looking for a speaker for your next event? Visit the411k.com or message on Instagram @the_411k.