How important is financial independence to you?

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Kerri 2015This is a question I have been dwelling on more frequently since the most recent Young Women’s Trust residential. We were posed the question of what is more important, a young woman's wellbeing? Respect? Or financial independence? 

We all agreed that they were interlinked in some way although none of us put financial independence first.  

We probably all agree that money does not guarantee happiness but, in a world where the cost of living is rising rapidly and wages remain stagnant, for most of us there is no doubt that you need a decent income to support yourself. Especially for those that unfortunately, do not have the security blanket of family or are not entitled to help from the Government.  

Financial independence is described as being solely responsible for your own finances, earning your income without support from any outside parties. This in itself is a struggle especially for some young women.  

I know that we have high aspirations, for example, a study by the Association of Accounting found that 46% of young people did not want to have to rely on their parents to support them financially by the ages of 20-23. I'm sure as young women we all aspire to achieve financial independence and to finally shake off the numerous stereotypes that surround us. How many more times are we going to hear that young women supposedly get pregnant to receive benefits?  

If we manage to achieve financial independence then who can accuse us of relying on the state? 

Barriers to us becoming financially independent 

The organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development found that some women possess a lower level of financial knowledge than men, and that this is more common in younger less-educated young women. Perhaps there needs to be more done in schools to ensure that young teenage girls have a solid understanding of how to manage money and the importance of it (I'm still learning). But even if young women had more financial knowledge, would this ensure that they could earn enough money to become financially independent?

In some environments we are still being paid less than men. Our recent poll as part of What She Can Be – our apprenticeship campaign revealed that a young woman working 35 hours a week as an apprentice will end up £2,000 worse off than her male counterpart. This already puts us at a great disadvantage from quite a young age, especially if we continue to be low/lower paid throughout our later careers 

As I get older and aspire for more things - my own place for example, I know that I will need a job that enables me to be financially independent in order to achieve those things, and I'm still striving day by day to achieve that. My hope is that we are all one day in a position to fully support ourselves and live comfortably (if we are not in that position already).

I know what financial independence means to me, but what does it mean to you? Tweet us at @ywtrust with the hashtag #FinanciallyIndependentWomen