How Covid-19 has affected women’s financial security

Article by Tamara Gillan

woman with money worries, finances, No Recourse to Public FundsWhoever came up with the saying, a change is as good as a rest, hadn’t lived through a global pandemic.  I am jiggered, and I’m not afraid to say it. Change is the one thing that has been central to all our lives recently.

The phrase ‘we are all in this together’ was cited in a you gov consumer poll as being overused and I don’t disagree. The actual reality is that our lockdown experiences are unique.  Admittedly, the storm may be the same, but we find ourselves in different boats.

As I type, my life has transitioned from boardroom to bedroom.  I made the dash to New Zealand at the start of the UK lockdown to be with my parents.  A decision I didn’t take lightly, but it was the right thing to. With my Antipodean move came challenges. Running a business and being CEO of the WealthiHer network, in a different time zone from the UK, has meant long hours into the night and working from a bedroom at my parent’s house.

Women across the globe will have been faced with similar challenges and for me I think it’s important that we recognise this. Unfortunately, it seems that women are bearing the brunt of the lockdown aftermath.  We are the ones who are most likely to be made redundant or furloughed.  We are the ones who have had to play the role of tutor and carer.  Our working and home lives have merged into one.

Working from home was once heralded as the panacea for a great work life balance.  This holy grail has become a little tarnished.  For many we find ourselves ‘homing from work’ with all the corporate and family plate spinning a desk in the middle of your kitchen brings with it. Financial markets in the long term will bounce back but this is cold comfort for those affected in the short term.

Unfortunately, there is no financial crystal ball, so through WealthiHer, we are advocating a back to basics approach.  Its foundation sits firmly with courage and it’s the Brene Brown rationalisation that it (courage) comes from a place of vulnerability that rings true for me.

  • We need to stop pretending that we are superwomen and ask for help.
  • We need to reignite our support networks, and ask our friends and partners about their coping mechanisms – this is where the vulnerability bit comes in.
  • We need to restore our confidence levels.  They’ve been diminished by weeks of relentless pressure, so this won’t happen overnight.

You may feel a failure by your inability to teach an eight-year old percentages, but here’s something to remember: you’re not a professional teacher – they receive years of training before they’re sent into tackle Year Four.

And they’ve chosen that profession. You didn’t. Don’t feel bad if you don’t enjoy it.

Stop thinking about all your supposed ‘failures’.  The pile of washing in the basket, the empty fridge, a birthday you missed – and concentrate on your successes: mastering Zoom finally, a child spontaneously starting schoolwork, or connecting in new ways.  They don’t need to be substantial, but every day recognise your wins.

Create boundaries. In the pre-lockdown world, your working day ended. Why does it not end today? Remove the blurred lines between your professional and personal lives.  We’ve also lost some of the tools that fuel our confidence and support our different selves as Annabel Bosman, Head of Relationship Management at Royal Bank of Canada shares: “Dressing for work was a way to separate the professional version of me from all the other ones. Now there’s no separation between work and home – all dimensions play out at the same time and it’s harder to maintain that professional identity whilst juggling work with home-schooling in bare feet. But I have realized that the armoury of clothes and make-up should be an extension, not a mask, of confidence which needs to come from within.”

In the chaos of home life, try to restore some calm in yours.

Insist on some time that is just for you – and don’t feel guilty about it.

Put on some uplifting music like Andra Day’s Rise Up, or a tune that turns your kitchen into a disco-in-furlough, such as Pharrell Williams’ Happy.  Search out some insight or inspiration to reset your mindset: pick up a book you’ve always wanted to read or tune into a podcast.

It’s also about looking at things from a different perspective.   Crisis is a familiar term in these pandemic times.

Look at where the word originates from and you see it comes from the Greek, krisis which means decisive moment.  If you ask me this description is a much more palatable way of looking at the current situation.

A decisive moment somehow indicates a pause, before moving forward and it’s exactly what we’re are advocating when it comes to your finances.  So, take the time to:

  • Take practical steps to understand your status and needs
  • Do a financial audit – overcome the shame and guilt, knowing what you have is powerful; protect your family for the future.
  • Run towards financial planning and not away from it
  • Use this current scenario as a wake-up call to start saving
  • Recognise the things you can and can’t change.  Accept the latter and free yourself

For me there have been many decisive moments over the last few months and am sure like many of us they will be more to come.  The great news is that we don’t have to face them alone.  One of WealthiHer’s values has always been about the power of collaboration and for me this is now more important than ever.

Tamara GillanAbout the author

Tamara Gillan, Founder The WealthiHer Network www.wealthihernetwork.com  and CEO and Founder Cherry London www.cherrylondon.com

Tamara Gillan is an experienced entrepreneur and Chief Executive, having founded and run two independent, successful and award-winning marketing agencies over the past 15 years. She is a champion of diversity, female empowerment and a natural born collaborator. Tamara Founded The WealthiHer Network UK, which brings together the UK’s leading financial institutions, to work in partnership for the first time to celebrate and support female wealth.

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