The end of Roe v Wade means that the war on women’s independence has intensified. Many right-wing governments will look up to the US and follow its example, restricting even further women’s access to abortion and soon access to contraception and, who knows, voting rights. In short, anything they can get away with may be taken away from us.
The patriarchy has been itching for years to turn back time and the believers of the patriarchal world order have just received a gift. As for me, I’m finding it hard to understand why women actively take part in allowing their rights to be stripped away. As if they didn’t understand that not only “the little people” will suffer the consequences of that, but they will too.
Time is of the essence and just like so many generations of women before us, we need to keep fighting for our rights and for the generations that come after us.
We must focus on creating long-term financial independence that would offer women security, choices, happiness and the ability to live by our own rules and beliefs. In our current world, women tend to be poorer than men, earn less, have fewer financially gratifying opportunities, and often need to work in jobs that aren’t stimulating, but just barely pay the bills. If there is an economic downfall, as we are experiencing right now, women will pay a higher price for that turmoil than men. Women in the creative industries are still further dispositioned during financially uncertain times.
Some politicians in the UK have been suggesting that if people don’t earn enough to cover the rising costs of living, they should work more or change jobs (I would recommend that Rachel MacLean takes her own advice and looks for another job, as she is clearly not suited for a public position). If you already work 40 hours a week and commute another 10 hours, it is going to be very difficult to work more, especially if you have a family. Of course, you should definitely do it, if you can pick up more work without impacting your mental and physical health and still keeping most of your earnings in your pocket. However, if the impact of working more hours is going to be only slightly higher and in exchange you would have to sacrifice your health and your family time, it won’t be worth it.
We, women, have a lot to think about in regard to our future, and I don’t mean the long-term future, but the future that is just around the corner. Let me share the steps I had taken myself when I began my journey towards financial independence and stability (I’m not nearly where I would like to be, but I’m on that journey).
- Start saving and investing money as soon as you start earning (I have not done that, which was a huge mistake). Don’t get yourself distracted by pop culture and pressure from advertisers coming from every direction (I have done that, again, it was a massive mistake). Even if you didn’t start saving in your 20s, it’s never too late to start on that journey. So put the distractions and pressures aside and start saving.
- The first rule of financial independence is having enough savings to carry you through at least six months without a job; if you don’t have that, you should start building your stash now.
- Learn all you can about Index Funds since those are the most cost-effective funds to build financial wealth. (I know many people say that we shouldn’t focus so much on money; instead, we should focus on exchanging goods/services. But we live in the world we live in and if something breaks down in your house or you get sick, you still need money to get that repaired or see a specialist).
- The sooner you start investing, the sooner you will become financially independent. Think about investments as something you do for the long haul. Investing is like planting trees; you aren’t going to have a harvest from your tiny fruit trees next year. It will take time for your trees to grow and mature. Investments work exactly the same way.
- Financial independence gives you choices and allows you to make independent decisions that aren’t driven by the need to have a job that would “just” pay your bills or the need to stay in a relationship because, in case of a break-up, you will have nothing left and will have to start all over again (I have seen that happen many times before).
As I said, women tend to earn less, but we also tend to invest less. One reason is the media and cultural pressure women are subjected to. Most beauty products and services target women successfully, eating up most of our income.
According to the media and cultural messages, we are exposed to from early childhood, we should change our entire wardrobe every season and have manicures and pedicures done at least once a month (anyone can easily learn how to do it themselves). I’m not saying women shouldn’t spoil themselves; by all means, I also do it now and then. However, if I’m presented with a choice between investing money to get closer to my financial goals, I would always choose that over products and services, which have been designed to keep women “beautiful” in the eyes of the opposite sex.
The following tips might help you start saving and thinking about your finances differently. Just remember, we need to stay financially independent and be able to earn money so we have a say and choice and can fight for our rights when those are attacked or taken away from us. The fancy and expensive clothes and beauty treatments will be useless if we have no rights.
- Start tracking your spending. This way, you will notice where the majority of your income goes.
- Look after your mental and physical health. If something doesn’t work for you, get out of that situation as soon as possible. Some toxic situations and places can’t be changed.
- Don’t buy anything you don’t need. Giving away unwanted but perfectly good items to charities isn’t a solution. Use items, including clothes, for as long as you can.
- When it comes to clothing, put clothes you think you don’t want any longer in storage boxes. Most likely, you will want to wear them in a few years.
- You don’t need 10 handbags. I have shit lots of handbags and only use 2, the cheapest I’ve got. Don’t let anyone tell you that handbags or shoes are a good investment. You don’t need a different pair of shoes each time you go out.
- Cut down on going out and drinking and eating out; when the weather is nice, use public parks to get together with your friends. Drinking in bars and pubs is so overpriced. In the colder months, you could have home parties and invite your friends over for dinner, baking or cooking parties.
- Before buying anything, consider how long you need to work to pay for that item. Is that item worth your time (the only commodity we can’t buy more off)? Will it last a long time or break after a few washes?
- If you are crafty, make gifts for people, don’t buy them. Gifts can get very expensive, especially if you don’t take enough time to hunt for bargains. If people don’t like your handmade gifts, well, maybe you shouldn’t be giving those people any gifts.
- While buying beauty products, look for bargains online and in discounted shops and I don’t mean £1 shops. Always stock up when your favourite products are on sale.
- Never, ever buy anything fully priced. I only buy on sale, if I get some kind of discount or if the item is second-hand. Even if you want to buy something fancy, wait for a sale.
- Invest in sustainable swaps. Most of them are worth every penny; this way in the long run you save money and the environment.
- See if you can grow any plants or herbs in your space. I started developing a garden in February 2022. I haven’t saved massive amounts of money yet, but I managed to grow a few herbs, which I don’t buy any longer. (Watch my film to see how I started my gardening journey). Also, the money I invested in pots, soil, plants, and seeds will be re-couped in the coming years.
I know that money is not as important as health and having people in your life who love you. However, when money is tight, life is more stressful, you feel trapped and many things feel out of control. Money gives security; as women, we need that security to come from within us because we never know which direction life will take us.
Do whatever you can to save money; don’t believe the media telling you that without a £200 haircut, you won’t find anyone to love you. Invest in your mental health and health in general, eat foods that make you feel good, make smart choices that will positively impact your future and not leave you dependent and desperate. Also, take your lunch to work. Buying any kind of takeaways, including coffee, is expensive and usually not great for your long-term health.
Furthermore, check out Margaret Atwood’s work, especially her “We Hang by a Thread” essay published in “Burning Questions”. And always and forever be ready to take a stand for your rights.