In theory, March is a big moment for women, containing both Women’s History Month, and International Women’s Day (March 8th). But these celebrations of women’s accomplishments are punctuated with a reminder that women still have a ways to go to reach equality, because March 31st is Equal Pay Day 2020. This date marks how long into 2020 the average American woman will have to work to earn what an average man earned in 2019. This is called the “gender pay gap” and it’s a big deal — 91 days big, actually (and this is for American women overall — Equal Pay Day arrives even later in the year for black, Native American, and Latina women).
You can learn more about the gender pay gap, and how to close it, by visiting the National Committee on Pay Equity and Equal Pay Today. But if you’re wondering what you can do to make your personal income more equal — and build wealth by making the most of what you’ve got — read on for some expert advice. We turned to the pros at SoFi to learn what young working women should be doing and thinking about right now to be on strong financial footing. Here’s what Lauren Anastasio, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at SoFi, wants you to know.
Why is it so important for women to negotiate the highest possible salary?
Negotiating your salary is important at any stage of the game knowing that future pay increases and bonuses are often based on where you start. A higher starting point means larger bonuses and more substantial pay increases along the way, resulting in significantly more during your career. Pay increases can impact your ability to build wealth either positively or negatively.
How could a pay increase be a negative?
How a pay increase may impact your long-term financial picture is heavily dependent on what you do with the extra money. Lifestyle inflation is a very real problem we all need to be cognizant of and avoid. A good rule of thumb is to save 50% of every pay increase received throughout your career. Those who spend much of their pay increases along the way wind up in far poorer financial positions than if they had never received the pay increase in the first place.
Are there certain challenges or opportunities that Millennial and Gen Z face that are maybe different than they were for Gen X or Boomer women?
Millennial and Gen Z women have higher earning potential than those in generations before them, however many also have significant student loan debt and the costs of other life events, like homeownership and marriage, have gone up significantly. So while younger women may be earning more, the cost of their lifestyle has inflated, too.
Younger generations also need to rely more heavily on their own savings for retirement than prior generations. Pensions have become scarce and the role social security will play in retirement income is less predictable, so many millennials and Gen Z women will have to shoulder more of the responsibility to plan for retirement than their parents have.
What are strategies working women should use to grow their wealth, beyond salary?
One of the most common questions I get from female friends and SoFi members alike is “how do I build wealth?”, and my response is always to remind them it’s not about how much you make, it’s about how much you save. Some ways you can be sure to maximize the value of your current income, as well as any pay increases or bonuses you ask for along the way, is to follow consistent budgeting (at SoFi we suggest following the 50/20/30 rule, which means 50% of your money goes towards needs, 20% towards savings and 30% towards wants) and focusing on putting 15 to 20% away for retirement in tax-efficient accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs. Earning a higher salary can help you save more, but earning more money does not guarantee that you’ll be better off in the long run. It’s all about what you do with that income.
Find Out if You’re Earning What You Deserve
SoFi’s online Get that Raise tool provides guidance on how much money you should ask for in your next salary negotiation. Enter your salary, position title and zip code into Get that Raise to see a data-based take on how much more you should be making, a personalized action plan to negotiate with your manager, as well as a chart showing how much that bump in income will add up to over ten years.
Third Party Trademarks: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.
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