In the UK, women, legally, have equal standing with men. This equality, however, does not necessarily manifest itself in terms of pay. As a result, women can find it even more of a struggle to get on the property ladder. Fortunately, there are ways for women, and other people on low incomes, to address this.
Maximise your earnings
No matter what your current situation, you should always be looking at how to make it better. If you’re on a low income, then increasing that income should be one of your top priorities. In this context, one of the key points to remember is that small steps can take you the same distance as giant leaps.
For example, you may not feel you can afford to take time off to go (back to) full-time study to increase your earnings significantly. You may, however, be able to take short courses (even free ones) to increase your earnings slightly. You can then put the increase into developing your skills further and so on until there is a significant increase in your earnings.
Build your own business
There are many good reasons for building your own business. In the context of addressing the gender pay gap, two stand out. Firstly, having a “side-hustle” can increase both your earnings and your experience beyond what you would get purely in employment. Secondly, it may be possible for you to continue with a side-hustle when employment is not an option.
For example, it may be possible to fit a side-hustle around child-care responsibilities, even before children go to school. This can not only boost the family finances, but it may also be able to counterbalance the issue of “CV gaps”. Firstly, it can be put on a CV in place of employment. Secondly, the money it creates may help to pay for upskilling.
Appreciate the value of networking
Getting to real-world networking events can be a challenge even when you don’t have caring responsibilities as well. It’s certainly worth going to them whenever you can. In reality, however, online networking opportunities may be a more practical option for many people, including women.
LinkedIn is the obvious place to start. Ideally, keep your profile up-to-date at all times. If you’d prefer to have it out of public display, just use the privacy settings to restrict who has access to it. LinkedIn also has a number of specialist-interest groups. It’s definitely worth checking these out to see if any of them apply to you.
In general, LinkedIn should be a starting point rather than an endpoint. Do some research online to see what other networking venues you can find. If you really can’t find any, try starting your own. This could be as easy as starting a subforum on a known site like Reddit.
Remember small savings do add up
If you’re on a low income, even trying to save for a deposit can seem like a pointless exercise. Remember, however, that small savings really do add up. What’s more, if you qualify for a Lifetime ISA, your savings will be topped up by a government bonus. This can be used in addition to other government schemes such as Help to Buy.
The key to success in saving is to work out the most affordable way to fulfil your needs and high-priority wants. Then be prepared to sacrifice lower-priority wants, at least until your finances have improved. Making this work in practice is often simply an exercise in organisation.
For example, if you learn to meal-plan (and batch-cook) effectively, you’ll avoid both having to buy convenience food and wasting food you’ve already bought. You can still allow yourself a bit of flexibility for days when, for whatever reason, you just don’t fancy what you’ve planned (or don’t fancy cooking it).