The Disposable Income Index (DII) has just been published for 2018 revealing a so called ‘confidence gap’ in the number of women saving and investing for their futures compared to men.

The DII is a quarterly report issued by Scottish Friendly and looks at the saving and spending habits of households across the UK. It revealed that men are typically more confident when it comes to saving and investing, and are therefore more likely to put money in a stocks and shares investment or a pension.

The data, which is compiled by the Social Market Foundation, found that the most likely reason why women don’t invest in stocks and shares is because they are afraid of losing money.

The Editor of the FT Personal Finance section, Claer Barrett, suggests that women should be regularly saving small amounts into the stock market; ideally tax efficiently through a monthly pension scheme or ISA. Her novel idea is to challenge the financial services industry to launch a campaign with female sanitary protection brands – something along the lines of ‘it’s that time of the month to save for your future’.

This is certainly a novel idea to grab women’s attention. The fact is that women live longer than men but are still way behind on their finances, with women aged between 60-64 having only a quarter of the pension amount on average compared to their male counterparts.

I’ve written before about the gender pay gap and the fact more women choose to step off the career ladder to have families or start flexible businesses that work for them around children. Add this lack of confidence around investing, plus the incessant marketing from brands suggesting we ‘need’ a certain expensive handbag or to wear a luxury face cream to have younger looking skin, and you have the perfect storm for women to over-spend on items we don’t need and under-invest in our futures.

As a Mind and Money Mentor, I don’t advise my clients what to invest in or how they ‘should’ be spending their money but I do make sure they get really clear on their numbers. Before investing or spending, they need to know how much they need to earn to achieve the lifestyle they want and then they need to get clear on how they are going to make it in their businesses.

What I am saying is neglect your numbers at your peril! By knowing how much you have coming in and going out every month, you can get really clear on what you need to make and what is left over. The DII suggests that the average household is left with over £1,000 of disposable income once all of the bills are paid each month. Even if you only put a small amount away every month for future retirement, it all adds up and as your business grows, so will your investment.

The stock market has long been pitched as a male-dominated playground but there are women focused investment hubs popping up – check out Vestpod or Ellevest. And next time you reach for those sanitary items when you spend a penny at that time of the month…think about saving a penny or two as well – your future self will thank you for it.