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A new study has put a number on the wealth gap between men and women – it’s 16 per cent.

The study offers a snapshot of a lingering inequity in the economy and personal finance – women make less on average, and they end up with less wealth. One result is more pressure on women to save and invest well over their lifetime.

The study, published by the Retirement and Savings Institute at business school HEC Montréal, compared single men and women aged 45 to 59. “Overall, we estimate that single men have $56,000 more wealth than single women on average, a wealth gap of 16 per cent relative to men’s wealth,” the study says. “The gap is largest at the top of the wealth distribution and has persisted over time, with no evidence that women are catching up.”

The data was gathered from Statistics Canada reports on financial security between 1999 and 2019. The point of focusing on the 45 to 59 demographic was to get a sense of the wealth gap in the years leading up to retirement. Single is defined as never married, divorced, separated or widowed.

Single women are more educated, slightly older, and more likely to be widowed, the study found. At the same time, they have lower employment rates and may have more responsibilities for family care. Another issue is the continuing wage gap between men and women. A recent CIBC Capital Markets report says women between 35 and 54 years old earned 13 per cent less in hourly wages than male counterparts in 2023. This compares with 15 per cent in 2012.

The introduction of pay transparency rules may help improve the gender wage gap. The wealth gap is tougher to address because it reflects the cumulative effect of years or decades making less money. This is why it’s vital for women to get the best possible results from saving and investing.

Consistent, cost-conscious investing helps build wealth, as does making maximizing contributions to tax-free savings accounts where possible and using registered retirement savings plans as well. Having an emergency fund parked in a safe savings account is another important goal for women, and everyone else.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list

The subscription trap

Some startling numbers on how many subscriptions the average person has, and how hard it is to get rid of them if you want to pare down. Included is a list of the 50 most popular subs. Amazon Prime takes the top spot.

Claim denied

Six reasons why your travel insurance claim could be denied. One that jumped out at me was the “alcohol exclusion.”

Money-saving tips for people who think they’re tried it all

Some good ideas for finding small but meaningful saving. The first suggestion is to shop at the dollar store before heading to the grocery store. Now for a look at some kinds of sales that aren’t worth it.

Why car repair costs are soaring

Inflation is felt most in food and shelter costs, but operating a vehicle is handful, too. Here’s a look at how repair costs have soared because components are getting more sophisticated. For example, cameras and sensors embedded in a bumper can add thousands to replacement costs.

Ask Rob

Q: I have made a near 800-per-cent return on Nvidia, which now has an outsized portion of my registered portfolio. I am unsure of whether to sell a portion to reduce its size in my portfolio and lock in some of these gains. What would you advise?

A: Nvidia is an AI computing stock that has been a star performer in the past couple of years. But no stock goes up forever, and the downside after a huge run-up could be nasty. Taking some profits and using the money to diversify a portfolio makes sense.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can't answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Tools, Explainers, Guides and Charts

Thoughts for people who have agreed to take on a financial power of attorney for an aged parent or relative. It’s a good idea to get the PoA validated before you need to use it.

The Money-Free Zone

I caught Lady Blackbird’s recent Toronto gig and my favourite song, just as on her Black Acid Soul album, was It’ll Never Happen Again. I mentioned this moody classic in a previous newsletter, but not the many worthwhile versions by other artists. Folk singer Tim Hardin wrote the song, with covers by the likes of soul singer P.P. Arnold, a British band called The Dream Academy, singers Johnny Rivers and Peggy Lee and, finally, the singer-songwriter Lloyd Cole.

On social media

A thread on X about the Canada Pension Plan and whether you could do better investing on your own. A great read – many smart contributions.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories

– How delaying retirement can boost income for singles

– Ottawa’s underused housing tax is a bureaucratic quagmire for couples with rental property, experts say

– ‘It will not be missed:’ Ottawa cancels first-time homebuyer incentive

– CPP is one of the best retirement assets money can buy, despite what the skeptics say

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