“I can’t rely on anyone else supporting me,” says Amanda Williams (Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa).
Studying, then working, paying the mortgage and raising three kids on her own left Amanda Williams (Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa) in survival mode, but she realized she wanted herself and her family to prosper.
Women earn less, are disproportionately affected by divorce and domestic violence, get the lion’s share of childcare, and are more likely to work part-time.
As a result, wāhine have fewer opportunities to prepare financially for retirement by accumulating assets or KiwiSaver contributions, according to Te Ara Ahunga Ora Pension Commission.
“I’m in a position where I’m a single mom and have been for over a decade now. And I’m not going to say it was easy,” said Christchurch-based Williams.
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“At some point during this time I was raising three children myself, finishing my degree at the same time as trying to provide an income for the family, so I could also pay a mortgage.”
It was an incredible achievement, but Williams said she was in “survival mode,” absorbed in the challenge of raising a family and running a household and not thinking about longer-term financial goals.
“All of a sudden you wake up and go, oh my God, what does my future look like?” she says.
“I am now in my 40s and seriously wondering what the next 20 years will look like for me?
“You want this as a teenager, you want this as a 20, you want our rangatahi [young people] okay, I understand what it means to have this financial freedom and those are my goals.
“Especially for our mana wāhine because we take on so many other responsibilities like raising a family, and that’s huge, so for us a lot of this discussion about finances tends to be secondary.”
Williams is the Senior Advisor for Women at BCITO, which manages apprenticeships for the building and construction industry. She is also involved in a program from provider KiwiSaver Mercer called The Table, a digital platform aimed at helping women grow their wealth.
Williams said she didn’t receive an education when she was younger about what it meant to have financial freedom as an adult and how to achieve it. She wanted other women to have the opportunity to learn.
“The moment we lose that financial independence, we’re stuck, whether we like it or not, and it takes us years to get back.”
One of the most important lessons she learned was to “pay herself first,” to make sure she put money toward her financial goals before doing anything else with it. , and to have no guilt about it.
“Make sure that even if you’re single or in a relationship, you always think about what your future looks like because most of the time we put things on the back burner.”
It was important to be able to find people who could impart financial knowledge, get support, and be able to have honest conversations about money without being judged.
“Because we’re ashamed of some of our situations, we tend not to want to tell the truth about what our finances look like, and so we keep doing the same thing.”
Williams said financial independence for her meant not only supporting her family and teaching them about financial capability, but also making sure she had financial stability when her children left home.
“I can’t rely on anyone else supporting me. That’s why KiwiSaver is so crucial, people really need to understand that it’s almost like a nugget of gold, it forces you to really think about what your future is going to look like.
It was also important to educate men on why it was important to support women, as it took a collective effort to bring about change, she said.