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During a time of economic uncertainty, people tend to panic, be paralyzed with fear and do nothing to change their situation. However, there appears to be a drastic difference in taking action when it comes to money matters between men and women during an economic crisis, according to a CompareCards survey conducted in April 2020 of more than 1,000 Americans.
- Only 5% of women followed a financial expert on social media versus 20% of men.
- Men (20%) are twice as likely to read a money-related book or article compared to women (10%).
- Nearly three times as many men (9%) signed up for a virtual seminar on money compared to women (3%).
There are numerous free resources to learn about money – books, articles, social media accounts and webinars – that can help ease concerns. Learning during a time of uncertainty can bring a sense of comfort by demystifying the unknown.
Coronavirus pandemic reveals Americans still aren’t trying to learn about money
Despite research showing the importance of staying educated on money, nearly 5 out of 10 Americans admitted to taking no action to learn more about personal finance at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
For example, in April 2020 alone, about 50 million cardholders experienced involuntary credit limit reductions and closures. Knowing what steps to take to prevent a credit limit cut or card closure could help prevent an unpleasant surprise. On the flip side, there have been offers for credit card issuer relief in the form of payment deferrals and loan extensions, but you have to reach out to the lenders to qualify.
Without taking action to learn about how to manage your finances, especially in a time of crisis, consumers may find themselves worse off than the ones who have educated themselves.
Only 5% of women followed a financial expert on social media compared to 20% of men
Economic uncertainty also reveals the eye-opening disparity among demographics. According to our survey, men are at least four times more likely to follow money experts on social media or listen to money-related podcasts, compared to women.
While this data is specific to one form of medium, there is still disparity among traditional forms of learning information. For example, men (20%) are twice as likely to read a money-related book or article, versus women (10%).
Age also revealed an imbalance of financial fluency
Baby boomers have taken significantly less action to learn about money during economic crises. To illustrate, the survey showed that 64% baby boomers took no action to learn about money in April 2020. This amount is nearly double that of millennials (34%).
While this finding takes into account the coronavirus pandemic, it may be part of a trend that goes beyond economic crises. In an ongoing study of credit card confidence, baby boomers are also nearly twice as likely than other groups to say they are “not at all confident” in paying their credit card bill in full during the pandemic. Taking action to learn more about money may increase confidence in paying off bills.
Why are women taking a backseat to learn about money?
The drastic difference in financial education between men and women in an economic crisis is alarming, but even during normal times there is disparity.
The December 2019 credit card confidence index study showed that significantly more women said they have never paid their card balances in full in the past six months compared to men (18% versus 9%). Lack of education on financial subjects only accelerates the disadvantages caused by the gender wage gap and increases the chance of not paying off credit debt.
One reason why women are less financially educated could be attributed to the finance industry being heavily male-dominated. However, there is a growing number of women in finance who can provide insights to help other women during economic uncertainty. Increasing the awareness in resources to learn finance that are created and led by women can help close the gender gap in financial education.
5 ways to stay informed in financial topics during economic uncertainty
Learning about money is a lifelong effort, but here is a list of ways and specific resources to get started.
1. Follow financial experts on social media. Let’s take Instagram, for example, which has one billion users that are split fairly evenly between men and women. Knowing that men were four times more likely to follow financial experts on social media, women should feel empowered to seek out their own financial experts on a platform that they use just as frequently as men do. With social media being very accessible, it is a great source to start absorbing financial knowledge. Here is a list of female financial experts to follow on Instagram:
- Tiffany Aliche: @thebudgetnista
- Winnie Sun: @winniesundotcom
- Amanda Clayman: @amandaclayman
- Tonya Rapley: @myfabfinance
- Sandy Smith: @yesiamcheap
- Bola Sokunbi: @clevergirlfinance
2. Follow finance hashtags and finance forums on social media. Following hashtags is a great way to discover new financial experts to follow and get various insights on money. Forums are also great ways to share and gain insight on money. Here is a list of hashtags to follow:
3. Read money-related books or articles. According to the CompareCards survey in April 2020, men are twice as likely than women to read a money-related book or article. Books can provide more in-depth information than a social media post or podcast. If you’re short on time, online articles are a bit easier to consume than books and provide real-time, relevant information. Here is a list of popular personal finance books and online articles written by women:
- “Women & Money: Be Smart, Be Strong, Be Secure” by Suze Orman
- “Spend Well, Live Rich: How to Get What You Want with the Money You Have” by Michelle Singletary
- “Women with Money” by Jean Chatzky
- “Real Money Answers for Every Woman: How to Win the Money Game with or Without a Man” by Patrice C. Washington
- “You are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth” by Jen Sincero
- “Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms” by Amanda Steinberg
- “Pandemic or Not. You Can’t Predict Bubbles, So Stop Trying” posted on WIFE.org , founded by Candace Bahr and Ginita Wall
4. Listen to podcasts and webinars. Listening to podcasts and webinars are accessible and effective ways to learn about money. Webinars also provide an opportunity to connect with a financial expert on a more personal level. Podcasts are easy to tune in anywhere, while driving, jogging or running errands. Here are sites that regularly host podcasts and webinars:
5. Create an accountability group. Having an accountability partner or group can ensure action is taken. Invite friends to share in the journey to learn more about money. Sharing money insights and discussing finance topics with others will increase confidence.
To understand the level of actions consumers took in times of economic uncertainty, CompareCards commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,201 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the overall population. The survey was fielded April 3-6, 2020.
Generations are defined as the following ages in 2020:
- Gen Z are ages 18 to 23
- Millennials are ages 24 to 39
- Gen X are ages 40 to 54
- Baby boomers are ages 55 to 74
- Silent generation are ages 75 and older