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Mother’s Day 2018: Parents get no reprieve as families fight off financial crises

In years gone by every Mother’s Day would be heralded not simply by flowers and a lie-in, but a slew of financial companies trying to bag themselves a few column inches by giving them each a monetary value.

The marginally more PC among them even occasionally acknowledged the value of a “parent” instead.

The last proper figures suggested something around the £30,000 a year mark back in 2015 – based on unpaid responsibilities and roles from taxi service to childminder, cleaner and cook.

Today though, the rhetoric has shifted – from poor old put upon parents to their failures in delivering long-term financial security for their families – alongside everything else.

This week, in the run up to Sunday, the stark truth about the fragility of the nation’s family homes has been unearthed in a series of studies that give flat out parents little reprieve. And with International Women’s day also falling this week there’s definitely nowhere to hide from the piercing light of survey results for mums in particular.

But they may have a point.

Only two in every five women with young children have insurance that would pay out if they died – despite having a child being a major prompt for many to take out life insurance.

With the majority not insured, research by Scottish Widows has found women are significantly underestimating their monetary value and therefore the implications for their family if they were no longer there.

A quarter of mothers with dependent children say they don’t have a policy because they don’t believe they need it.

With a new Bereavement Support Payment system now in place, which may result in a significant reduction in the period over which support will be available, such cover may be especially important for the country’s 3.2 million cohabiting couples, who still don’t qualify for bereavement benefits.

Meanwhile, though barely one in ten mothers having a critical illness policy in place, a third admit their household would be at financial risk if they lost their income.

Of course the perpetual problem with protection is that nobody in their right mind really wants to spend money on something they hope will never happen. Few of us can even bring ourselves to think about the possibility – even if it’s “just” losing our jobs.

But there’s something else going on here too – a deep lack of confidence among women over financial affairs.

Few financial organisations would be prepared to suggest women need to get more informed and more assertive if they have any hope of maximising the effects of the very, very slowly closing pay gap, but the evidence is everywhere, not least when it comes to investing their money.

Indeed, recent HMRC figures suggest that while a million men have an investment ISA, among women the number is closer to 870,000. With equities showing greater long term returns over cash by a country mile, and the tax exemption benefits available, even a few pounds squirrelled away in something other than a savings account every week, month or year could help the female bottom line.

There’s no doubt that income is a major player in the female finance game, and study after study shows that women are more likely than men to prioritise their personal spending on everyday family and household costs – especially for the kids – rather than set it aside for their present or future. There’s simply no question that if you don’t have spare cash you’re not going to invest it, informed or not.

But even when taking action on our financial affairs doesn’t involve parting with money, there are still gaping holes. Child benefit changes and the confusion that has rained down has led to about 63,000 mothers losing out on national insurance credits.

It doesn’t sound like much to get aggravated about but that could translate to £1bn of future pension rights at a time when the female state pension age is already the subject of much controversy and, again, confusion.

Yes, financial education in this country has been diabolical. The legacy that has left can’t be quantified. Yes, the financial services industry operates in terms of the linear earnings and spending habits of men. But if the last 12 months since the last International Women’s Day and the last Mother’s Day have demonstrated anything it is that there is information out there to be seized upon, scrutinised and used to its full extent.

And if the information isn’t there or isn’t clear, get professional, independent financial advice. Women just don’t do it. And yet data from the International Longevity Centre suggests that those who did use an adviser between 2002 and 2007 were, by 2014, an average of £40,000 better off than those who didn’t.

If I could wish for one thing on behalf of both mothers and those women making the most of a kid-free life this week – one thing that could really make a lasting difference to our lives, our opportunities and barriers – it would be personal financial empowerment.

Source: Independent Money News

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