Last Updated 4 months by Emily Standley-Allard

The life of a single woman. The remote is always where you leave it, there’s no compromising on plans, thinking about every meal, worrying about what the in laws think about you etc… But it’s a rough fact that it’s more expensive for single women to live. Single women get to pay more for well, everything.  It seems like the American economy is still hopelessly behind the times.

As a single Gen Xer I’ve already raised 3 kids and buried a husband. In other words, I’ve made my coffee. But today now that more women are opting to stay single, some serious complaints about the fairness about the economics of being a single woman are on the rise in the US.

Single women, and more specifically single women of color, get paid the least compared to their married counterparts (with white married men dominating the charts, of course).

Already battling the gender wage gap, many successful, professional (single) women today feel they’re being cornered into marriage just to survive financially.

Despite these disparaging facts many studies show that many psychological studies point to single, childless women being the happiest.

woman on bench

Single Women and Housing

Housing is a huge slice of this economic conditions pie. It’s been noted that landlords overwhelmingly favor married tenants over single tenants.

It’s a form of unofficially tolerated discrimination that veritably narrows down the pool of housing options for singles.

Specifically, it leaves single women spending 39.8% of their annual income on housing, while couples and single men only spend 23.9% and 30.3%, respectively.

Single women get lower returns from housing investments

Some of you might be thinking, “Making a mountain out of a molehill here, aren’t we? Just find a cheap studio or one-bedroom.”

Good luck with that in the United States.

That is but a distant dream, I’m afraid. And reality paints a different picture. In many cities across the US, especially in a desirable area such as the sunbelt, the median rent of a one-bedroom apartment is nearly the same price as a two-bedroom.

Areas such as Florida have double or even tripled their rents due to lack of rent stabilization and no rent control laws.

 

house image
Image by pixabay.com

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That makes it much harder for single women to *live, laugh, love* your way through your paycheck.

Single women in the US feel stuck.

Single Women: Money and Investing

woman working at home
Image by Hautestock.com

Are women investing enough? And how do they invest differently than men? Here are the stats that reveal the answers. Resource – Financebuzz.com

One of the best ways to build wealth over time is to invest. Interestingly, even though it’s commonly believed that women aren’t investing, there is a level of participation.

On top of that, women might actually be better equipped for success when it comes to a long-term investment strategy.

Let’s take a look at some of the stats about investing and women, and then we’ll dig in a little more to understand the numbers and what they might reveal about women investors and the state of their financial future.

Key findings

  • On average, women experience an $80,000 lifetime pay gap when compared to men, when controlled for various factors.
  • Women left the labor force (and saw a reduction in income) due to the pandemic at a greater rate than men.
  • Women reach their peak earning power at age 44, with an average salary of $66,700, as compared with men, who reach peak earning power at age 55, with an average salary of $101,200.
  • Nearly 34% of women haven’t started investing yet, compared with 24% of men.
  • Women are more likely (18%) than men (7%) to learn about investing from their partners.
  • Women are more likely than men to believe you can start investing with less money.
  • Women feel less confident than men about making investment decisions.
  • Women are up to 50% less likely to actively trade than men.
  • At most income levels, women are more likely to participate in their company’s retirement plan.
  • At all income levels, women have lower retirement account balances than men.
  • About 39% of women have no retirement strategy, compared with 25% of men. Only 19% of women have a written retirement plan.

Women and pay

Although the gender pay gap has been narrowing over time, it still exists — and all of that plays into how women invest. The difference in pay, likelihood of promotions, and career trajectory all play into a woman’s ability to invest, and how much she can grow her portfolio.

  • Women’s lifetime pay gap is $80,000. According to PayScale, even when controlling for various factors, including doing the same job with the same qualifications, the average woman still makes $80,000 less than the average man over a lifetime. Uncontrolled, however, that pay gap jumps to $900,000. For women of color, the pay gap, controlled and uncontrolled, is higher than for white women. And this pay gap doesn’t even take into account the losses due to compounding returns because that’s money women don’t have for potential investing.
  • COVID-19 further widened the lifetime pay gap. Research indicates that the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately impacted women’s careers, particularly in the United States. In addition to the low availability of affordable child care, women are more likely to be caregivers in the U.S., and take off work to help children with their schoolwork and care. As a result, there’s the potential to see an even greater lifetime gender pay gap in the coming years as women try to get back into the workforce.
  • Women’s peak earnings are reached earlier — and are less — than men’s. PayScale reports that, on average, women are 44 when they reach their peak earning power, compared with age 55 for men. On top of that, the average peak salary for women is $66,700, whereas the average peak for men is $101,200. This difference in earning power can have a huge impact on how much women can invest, as well as how much they can save for retirement.

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Women and investing

Women and men make different financial decisions, including choosing to invest differently, and part of the reason might be due to the confidence gap experienced by women.

Women are less likely to feel confident about investing. Female investors tend to employ long-term strategies because they’re not as likely to be involved in short-term trading.

Interestingly, though, these differences in investing might actually work in women’s favor, making them better investors overall.

  • About 34% of women haven’t started investing yet, compared with 24% of men. The FinanceBuzz investing habits survey found that women are less likely to have started investing. Part of that might be due to the fact that, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Financial Capability survey, only 34% of women feel comfortable making investment decisions, compared with 49% of men.
  • Women are more likely to learn about investing from a partner. Close to 18% of women learn about investing from their partner, whereas only 7% of men say the same thing. On top of that, according to the FinanceBuzz survey, men are far more likely to turn to online resources to seek financial advice.
  • Women are more likely to seek investment knowledge from other people, with almost 23% of women saying they don’t know how investing works, compared with about 16% of men.
  • Women are less likely to trade than men. Research from Vanguard indicates that women are up to 50% less likely than men to trade actively. In fact, Vanguard’s report finds that “Women at the margin are more aligned with Vanguard’s long-term investing principles, such as diversification and discipline.” On top of that, the FinanceBuzz survey found that men are more likely (60%) to check their investment portfolios once a week, whereas only about 41% of women check their portfolios weekly. The tendency to leave their investments alone might actually make women successful in the long run when it comes to seeing a higher return percentage.
  • Women are more likely to believe you can invest with less money. Even though the FinanceBuzz survey found that most respondents believe you need at least $1,000 to start investing, women are actually more likely to believe you can start with a smaller amount. For example, women are more likely to believe that you can start investing with $50 or less, and less likely than men to believe you need more than $25,000. This could be an advantage for female investors in clearing a widely believed obstacle about getting started in investing.

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Single Women and the Pink Tax

Homemade anti aging oil
Image by Pixabay.com

Men and women often buy similar day-to-day products. But research shows that consumer products targeted and advertised to women are sometimes more expensive than comparable products marketed to men.

This disparity is referred to as a so-called pink tax.

Gender-based price disparities are prevalent in several sectors, but one of the most visible is personal care products. These include, for example, soaps, lotions, razor blades and deodorants that are marketed specifically to either women or men.

In the United States, one government study analyzed 800 gender-specific products from nearly 100 brands.

The report found that, on average, personal care products targeted to women were 13% more expensive than similar men’s products. Accessories and adult clothing were 7% and 8% more expensive, respectively.

The study concluded that “women are paying thousands of dollars more over the course of their lives to purchase similar products as men.”

Another US study found that dry cleaning prices for women’s dress shirts were upwards of 90% more expensive than for men’s shirts.

Meanwhile, an analysis in the UK found that women’s deodorant was on average 8.9% more expensive than men’s.

Women’s facial moisturizer was 34.28% more expensive.

Resource – weforum.org

 

Single Women and Healthcare

thermometer

Single women in the U.S. consistently pay more in dollars and as a percentage of their earnings than men for health insurance, according to the newest ValuePenguin analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.

Women spent an average of 6.8% of their annual pretax income on health insurance in 2020, nearly double the 3.9% spent by men due to higher costs — $510 more — and the intractable gender pay gap.

This unequal impact plays out across age and income levels and continues into payments for auto and life insurance, the data shows.

Single women spend nearly twice as much of their income on health insurance as single men, according to the ValuePenguin analysis.

On average, single women spent $2,406 on health insurance in 2020, representing a sizable 6.8% of their annual income.

However, single men paid $1,896 for health insurance, on average, or only 3.9% of their larger yearly income.

 

Single Women and Retirement

older woman biking

We can’t even retire comfortably in these conditions, TBH, and the stats are depressing.

When comparing women who never married to women who have been married at least once, 54.5% had no retirement savings versus 36.7%, respectively.

This is an even harder pill to swallow because a 65-year-old woman needs an estimated $150,000 just to cover health care in retirementwhich is $15,000 more than what her male counterpart needs.

About 50% of women ages 55 to 66 have no personal retirement savings, compared to 47% of men (Figure 1).

Women also lag men at the other end of the spectrum: 22% of women have $100,000 or more in personal retirement savings compared to 30% of men.

Because 65% of men and 58% of women ages 55 to 66 are married (defined as those whose spouse lives in the same household), the amount of retirement savings available is difficult to assess.

Married couples plan their retirement together and save together.

Women and men have more comparable retirement savings when couples’ savings are combined with personal savings.

However, there is still a smaller percentage of women who have retirement savings of $100,000 or more compared with their male counterparts (34.2% compared to 36.4%).

The term “retirement savings” is used here to mean the combined measure of personal and spousal retirement savings for those who are married and personal retirement savings for those not living with a spouse.

Conclusion

As the years go on, millennials are slowly refurbishing the American dream to a vision in which single women are no longer after the white picket fence and 2.5 kids.

Many women want the freedom to live independently (and alone), but until the economic playing field is leveled so all single people can compete fairly, it’s going to remain an uphill battle.

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