Despite women’s month coming to an end, awareness around gender equality and the wage gap is on the rise. 40% of South African households are headed by women who, on average, earn approximately half of what their male counterparts do. These women do not only care for the daily needs of their children, but in many cases for those of members of their extended family; and they often find it difficult to implement long-term financial plans.
So, what are the financial priorities for women heading households?
“A financial plan can help women take far better control of their budgets to ensure that their loved ones are well cared for,” says Sonja Visser, CEO of African Unity Life, an insurer that specialises in funeral and other insurance options across income levels.
There are a number of things that can be done to ensure that what is spent is in line with their financial goals.
“Larger household expenses like housing, utilities (water, electricity and gas), transport and food take up the majority of most monthly budgets so I consider a detailed household budget to be first on a list of priorities,” advises Visser.
A list of these items and what they cost will indicate what is left for other necessities such as funeral cover and life insurance.
The next step is to identify which of these expenses will still need to be paid in the unfortunate event that the head of the household or breadwinner passes away or becomes disabled. Having a clear idea of these costs will help guide the type of insurance options that should be considered and what is affordable.
Visser suggests women set aside funds for the provision of proper healthcare for the family, as well as to ensure the family is covered if there’s a death or disability. This will enable them to make provision for funeral costs as well as a regular income so children as well as their current and future education fees are taken care of.
“When considering any kind of insurance product, it’s always advisable to check the credentials of the financial services provider and intermediary to obtain comparisons in premiums and check the fine print,” she says.
Visser believes that a lot more can be done in South Africa to establish and embrace a culture of financial literacy and saving especially amongst women.