Most of us approach our finances with good intentions – we all want to be smart with our money! But, unfortunately, there are several seemingly innocent habits that many are guilty of. Here are 5 of the most common and why you should ditch them now.
Only Paying the Minimum Balance
Sure, you don’t have to pay more than the minimum on your credit card, by why wouldn’t you? Not only are you unnecessarily accruing interest, but you’re hurting your credit score by consistently keeping your credit usage high.
Kill 2 birds with one stone by getting into the habit of at least paying double the minimum (though ideally, you should only be charging things to your credit card that you can pay off in full at the end of the month).
Not Prioritizing High-Interest Debt
When it comes to tackling debt, many people are overwhelmed by the number of debts they owe as opposed to the monetary amount of debt. So instead of evaluating their various debts and prioritizing high-interest debt, they opt to pay off a few smaller obligations first to cross them off their list. Everyone is different and some may need to pay off 1 or 2 small debts as a confidence booster, but beyond that, it is important to have a strategy when paying off debt. By not paying attention to your various interest rates, you could end up costing yourself a lot more in the long run and spend a longer time paying off all your debt. Make a smart repayment plan by looking at all your debts, the amounts owed, and their interest rates. When it comes to debt, thinking “big picture” is key.
Not Paying Yourself First
For many, savings are an afterthought. Even though everyone claims they want to save, few make it a priority and think they can just wait and put whatever’s left at the end of the month into savings. However, this just means you’ll be more tempted to spend your money on other discretionary expenses, leaving little leftover to put into savings, if you even remember to put it into your savings account at all. Instead, decide on a predetermined portion of your paycheck you want to save, and transfer that amount into your savings account as soon as you get paid. This way, it’ll be out of sight before you even have a chance to miss it.
Opting for Overdraft Protection
It may sound like a good idea, but it’s actually a way for banks to tempt you to spend more than you can actually afford – and then charge you a hefty fee for the privilege. What’s worse, is some banks don’t set a limit on how many overdraft charges you can accrue in a day, so it’s easy for a little carelessness to end up costing you a lot. You are better off skipping this option and, instead, carefully monitoring your account balance so that you do not overextend yourself. With smart phones and mobile banking, it’s easier than ever to keep track of your account balance, so there’s really no excuse to be spending more than what you have!
Thinking You’re Too Good to Budget
Everyone should budget! Budgets aren’t just for people with lower incomes. Even very high income earners can run into the perils of poor money management, as we’ve seen with countless celebrities. Regardless of how much you make or how financially responsible you think you are, everyone can benefit from creating and sticking to a monthly budget. Without one, it’s impossible to get a clear picture of money coming in and money going out. Without a budget, it will also take you much longer to accomplish your financial goals. These days, it’s easier than ever to create and stick to a budget, with many online tools available such as Budget Jewel or Mint.
Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.
A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.
The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.
Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")
The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."
This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.
She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."
Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.
"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei
While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.
Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.
The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."
This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.
Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.