At the end of the day, there’s no “typical” consumer affected by debt.
Anyone can end up owing money—young or old; blue collar or white collar; low credit or high credit; single or married.
Much of the time, consumers are forced to start racking up debt when an unexpected life circumstance crops up and they have to put the expense on credit in a pinch.
In short, debt really doesn’t discriminate when it comes to affecting people from all walks of life.
Although debt absolutely affects people of all genders and identities, young women should be aware of the circumstances they’re facing in what many would consider a predominantly patriarchal society.
Here’s how young women can proactively address their debt and take control of their financial futures.
Key Reasons Young Women Accumulate Debt
As much as we’d like to believe that we have outgrown gender disparities of the past as a country, the data says otherwise.
Women face a few specific obstacles as they navigate certain challenges throughout their financial lives.
Here are a few, according to one CEO for CNBC:
- Some women have been socialized to entrust finances to their partner, which can leave them in a perilous situation if that partnership ends.
- Women may earn less income due to the wage gap, plus the fact that women work fewer hours on average—often due to the expectation to become a caregiver at some point.
- Women tend to live longer than men, meaning they’ll need more savings on average to survive.
Many women can attribute the start of their debt issues to a dysfunctional relationship.
For some, this means coercion and abuse from a partner.
Others find themselves paying a disproportionate amount of expenses throughout the duration of a relationship, which depletes their safety nets.
Yet others grow up to discover their unhealthy relationship with money likely stemmed from associations they developed as children based on how their families regarded money.
There’s also the fact that we’re all living in the midst of a gig- and contract-based economy.
This means many workers are simply living without the protection of a full-time position with benefits—putting them that much closer to facing the financial cliff’s edge if something goes awry.
One last thing: Women have traditionally paid more on average for healthcare and continue to do so.
As USA Today reports, women have $4,341 in outstanding medical bills compared to men’s $3,231 average.
While gender isn’t the only factor dictating whether or not someone has debt, there are certain trends and patterns we can track that tend to affect women on average.
Finding Sustainable Strategies for Addressing Debt
So, how can young women address their debt?
First of all, it’s important to avoid any “quick fixes” like high-interest payday loans or opening a new line of credit to float everyday expenses.
Genuinely eliminating debt requires the right combination of freeing up extra income via budgeting and paying down debts, possibly through a debt relief strategy.
People struggling with high interest rates on one or more credit cards may find some relief after conducting a balance transfer to a new card with zero or low APR.
People with decent credit may find taking out a consolidation loan will help them wipe out other high-interest debts and simplify the repayment process.
Women facing $7,500 or more in debt who are struggling to make minimum payments can investigate settlement as a potential solution; reading Freedom Debt Relief reviews and the like will help consumers know what to expect.
Homeowners may be able to finance their mortgage and take out the difference in cash, using it to pay urgent debts—just expect your mortgage repayment process to stretch out a few more years if you do this.
Besides reducing expenditures and pursuing debt relief as needed, another way young women can speed up debt repayment is by negotiating for higher pay when possible.
One financial planner offers this advice to 20-something women: “I encourage them to negotiate as much as they can for salary because more money means more resources all the way around for the rest of their lives.”
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for young women aiming to eliminate their debts, but it does help to understand where debt came from, then implement best-fit strategies for addressing debts in the present.