Who’s ready to kick 2020 to the curb and start fresh? I know I am.
Even though it’s been a crazy year, it’s taught us a lot. People have lost their jobs and worse, lost loved ones.
Some of us were able to pivot and pick up work in another field as we grieved our old lives but many others were not as fortunate as they continue to struggle.
What does this mean for women particularly? It means a lot of impossible choices had to be made, especially in heterosexual couples where the mother is forced to take a step back from their work to fulfill caregiving duties as daycares and schools closed down.
It had especially crippling effects on poorer families that rely on two incomes but were forced to go down to one as the other may not have had a remote option.
Some say the pandemic has set back women 10 years in the workplace (or more). Women are filing for unemployment at higher rates than their representation in their industries, especially working mothers.
Even though most of what women experienced with their money and work in 2020 was out of their control, let’s talk about what we can control going into 2021.
1. You might be able to file your taxes for free
Taxes are usually one of the first stressful money things of the year even though they come with an April 15th deadline, it’s best to file as early as you can. If you are hesitating due to a high tax bill for what you might owe, at least you can take some stress off by possibly filing for free.
Every year the price tag associated with filing your taxes gets higher. Companies like Turbo Tax and H&R Block make it a point to hide how to use Free File to files your taxes for free and it isn’t like the IRS is advertising their very own way to file your taxes for free.
But you can absolutely file taxes for free starting in mid-January by going directly to the IRS.gov site here.
2. Use resources from your local community
When the first lockdown originally started back in March 2020, there were several churches and local businesses in our area that we would see giving out free dinners certain nights and free food on the weekends. There were also specific relief programs going on through local organizations.
People were uncertain if a stimulus check would come and after if there would be much more help from the government. These local resources made a huge difference in those families’ lives.
Your local community can also come in handy in other areas as well such as searching for college scholarship programs and job searches.
If you are unsure how to find where these resources may be available in your own local community, start with looking on Facebook for any relevant community Facebook Groups. Search Facebook by choosing search, selecting “Groups” for the type, and typing your search term as [Neighborhood name] + [the type of help you are seeking].
There are also useful buy, sell, and trade groups if you need quick cash. Nextdoor is another popular neighborhood app that may have some useful information about resources.
If your area has a website as our municipality does, you can use that to search for online learning opportunities, scholarships, and job opportunities. Their links to their social media might be beneficial as well.
3. If you have an annual review coming up at your job, here’s what to do for more money
If you were fortunate to keep your job this year or start a new job, you might have an annual review come up with your manager. The timing of these reviews vary company to company but usually will fall close to the beginning of the year (ours are March at my day job). They are also a great time to negotiate for more pay.
To increase your chances of a raise coming out of your review:
- Write down everything you’ve done at your job the past year so you can jog your own memory and do it on the notes app on your phone to prepare for the conversation.
- Be results-driven with the way you convey these to your manager such as describing a way that you’ve made someone else’s life easier, increased productivity, or increased profit for the company.
- Be direct about the fact that you want a raise and why you deserve one. Give them how much you want and don’t say anything after. Wait for them to respond.
4. Find jobs that will value you
If you don’t have this opportunity for a raise and are actually looking for a job (or want to find a new job), use the same tips as in #3 to negotiate for a high salary and find jobs that will truly value you.
Make sure you have results-driven items on each of the past positions on your resume but when you get to the stage of negotiation never give the number first. You want them to give you a number first (this way you never know if they might offer you more than what you originally would have asked for).
In your job search, look for companies whose mission aligns with your lifestyle, goals, and where you want to go in your future. When on pre-interview screenings or in the interview process, ask the recruiter about the company’s views and history on the treatment of women, the effort they are making towards equal pay, and other items that matter to you.
Here’s what you need to know about the gender pay gap.
My #1 tip for going into 2021: focus on what you can control
No one could have predicted in any advice article to be prepared for a global pandemic…unless you were a doomsday prepper. The past year was wild and I don’t want to jump and say 2021 will be any better. But I do think we can take what we’ve learned this past year and apply it to the next.
There will always be things outside of our control, especially as women when the society we live in shoves a lot of extra responsibility onto us. If we focus on some of the things we can control, things become a little easier and clearer.
Not to say that women are also responsible for making it any better. We need help from the rest of society because this too can’t fall back solely onto women.