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Covid cash: why women have been impacted most and what you can do about it

Women were hit hard by the pandemic’s economic fallout but here’s how to get your finances back on track.


This pandemic has been tough on everyone, but it’s been particularly bad for women: who have been worst hit by new childcare demands and by unemployment.

Last year a survey from PwC showed that 78% of the people who had lost their jobs in the crisis were women – and the majority of those were younger women.

Plus, a recent report from the Commons Women and Equalities Committee found that government economic support was “skewed towards men”.

Of course, plenty of men have struggled in this crisis too, but it’s undeniable that this has been a particularly bad year for women.

If you’ve taken a hit, believe it or not, there’s a lot you can do to tackle it.

Research by Compare the Market shows that we’re spending an average of £265 a year on bills and subscriptions that we no longer need or use

Check if you have legal expenses insurance

If you’ve been treated unfairly in this crisis, maybe your employer has laid you off and you don’t think it was a fair process? Maybe you think you’ve been discriminated against.

You might think a lawyer could help but that getting their advice is too expensive. But there’s a lesser-known perk on lots of insurance policies that might help - legal expenses insurance.

Check your home insurance policy to see if it is included, or if you pay for a packaged current account you may have the cover automatically and be none the wiser.

And this means that you can get expert legal advice without paying a huge bill.

If you don’t have it but want it, don’t panic - it is possible to add it to your home insurance with a quick call to your provider.

Sadly, taking out a policy now won’t cover you for any issues you had last year, but it will mean that you’re well-armed to tackle any problems in the future.

Build up a freedom fund

There’s no denying that we all need a fund of emergency cash to escape from a bad situation every now and then.

Whether it’s an inappropriate boss, a bad relationship, a flaky flatmate – having the money to get away grants you options you might not have otherwise.

But many people, especially many women, will have burned through any savings just surviving this pandemic.

Experts advise that we should squirrel away six months’ worth of wages in case the stuff hits the fan – but let’s face it, Covid has been wreaking havoc on our lives for more than a year now. Even the most diligent savers would be struggling.

If you don’t have a Freedom Fund, then you need to start one.

It doesn’t need to be a huge amount, just saving regularly will help. You could set up a regular transfer on the day your pay comes into your account. Another option is to use an app that makes saving easy by rounding up your daily spending and siphoning the change into savings.

The sooner you start saving, the sooner you will have savings, so it’s worth acting now.

Think about getting back into your workplace pension

If you opted out of a pension scheme when the pandemic started, then you’re not alone.

According to Hargreaves Lansdown, a quarter of savers have stopped or cut back on paying into their pensions during the Covid-19 crisis in order to make ends meet.

Unless you’re really struggling, it is worth considering getting back into a workplace pension. Not only is it money you need for retirement, but in most cases your employer also adds money into the pension scheme for you: opt out, and you are passing up free cash from your employer.

Feeling the pinch now is tough, we know, but the alternative is the risk of feeling the pinch for your entire retirement as a result.

But if you really don’t have the money spare, don’t panic – there are other ways to save without cutting back too much on your lifestyle.

Spend an hour saving on bills…

Yes, we know you’re busier than ever before but, believe it or not, this is one of the most satisfying ways to spend an hour, trust me.

Plan for it – get a cup of tea, grab your bank statements, get comfy on the sofa and make a list of all the bills you pay; energy, phone, car insurance and everything else.

Deep breath, then start comparing and switching, you’ll be amazed how much you can get done in an hour - you could save hundreds of pounds a year just switching your energy bills, for instance.

If you’re in a contract with a provider, make sure that you make a note in your diary for when you can make the switch.

…and then subscriptions

Then once you’ve done that it’s time to cancel the subscriptions you don’t use. That online magazine you subscribed to because of a free offer then forgot to cancel? Now is the time.

The gym membership you didn’t use even before the pandemic (and no longer need because Joe Wicks is life)? Cancel it.

A streaming service you pay for but haven’t used in a while? Kill it with fire (or, you know, cancel it).

Research by Compare the Market shows that we’re spending an average of £265 a year on bills and subscriptions that we no longer need or use.

Let’s be honest, that money is better in your pocket than in theirs.

Don’t forget that while you may think that this article is brilliant, it is intended for information purposes only and should not be mistaken for financial advice or recommendations.

3 things to do
right now

1

Consider protecting your income in case you get sick or injured and can’t work and wouldn’t get sick pay. This means that you could receive 50-70% of your salary to keep food on your table and a roof over your head.

2

Ask your boss for a pay rise. The worst thing that can happen is that they say no. The best-case scenario is you walk away with more money. As the old saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

3

Put some time in your calendar to review all your subscriptions and bills, you could be really surprised how much you could save.

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