Coloured Woman Wearing Jacket with the female symbol sewn onto it

Op-Ed: Let’s Face It, I’m a Woman

Written by Sonam Ringpa, Edited by Cara Lau

This is part of our Op-Ed series where we feature third-party opinions and thoughts on the ways finance affects our lives. The authors are not so much giving advice, as they are sharing experiences. Some will make you think, others will inspire, and we hope all of them will give you something to talk about.

As a woman and racialized person, I’m all too well aware of the gender pay and racial wage gaps – how they adversely affect me as well as others like me and increase my propensity for risk. So, while I know I need to invest my earnings, my strategy is pretty boring. I track the market, drown out the noise and invest for the future. The bulk of which includes making bi-monthly contributions to my RRSP (maximized by employer matching). I also actively save for rainy days and let me tell you, rainy days have come. But that’s a rant for another day.

A couple weeks ago, I was at a party and had a conversation with a guy about cryptocurrency. He told me about how well he was doing and implied that I was missing out. Apparently, crypto wasn’t even close to its ceiling and there was still a lot of money to be made. Curious, I asked about his approach. It turned out that he came from a dual family income and had a safety net to fall back on. If the venture didn’t work out, he wouldn’t go hungry or end up in a desperate situation. Listening to his story reminded me of some of my friends who are well invested in cannabis stocks but wouldn’t be in terrible shape if the marijuana market didn’t pan out. While it’s exciting to hear how their investments have tripled in a short period of time, I can’t find a good reason to join them. Not only is my financial security very different from theirs, but so is my racialized salary.

In the Sallie Krawcheck school of thought, women should invest differently because they live longer and earn less, meaning there’s a higher chance they’ll live closer to the poverty line in their later years. In fact, investing is a feminist issue because learning about it isn’t encouraged, much like pursuing a career in STEM or aggressively climbing the corporate ladder. It’s a perspective I agree with wholeheartedly. My secret fear is not doing enough and becoming an old woman who resorts to buying dollar store cat food for dinner. It feels like an exaggeration. But, is it? I’m not sure when I created that image in my head, most likely it was inspired by something I read, but it looms in the background of all my financial decisions.

Most people believe growth and living comfortably aren’t synonymous. The saying, “Growth only happens outside your comfort zone,” comes to mind. But I disagree. For me, living well is living within my means and saving for the future. Knowing that I’m doing what I can, safely and securely, allows me to sleep at night – a luxury I value.