Women and Financial Progress
Women are more involved with day-to-day household finances than ever before but most are still not planning for retirement and other major life goals. This is the finding of a recently published Prudential Financial’s 10th anniversary study on the “Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women”. The report showed that 95 percent of women are involved in household financial decisions, with a quarter acting as primary decision-makers. At the same time, however, 64 percent of those surveyed say they still have more work to do to secure their financial futures.
While the Prudential Study suggests that women could benefit from greater knowledge of financial products, particularly many Prudential sells such as life, disability and long-term care insurance, it misses a fundamental point: Most women do not take on board the fundamental importance of saving early and often.
Women in general are born nurturers. For many, money is a tool for day-to-day survival and to provide for others, especially children. Mothers save for their kids’ daily needs, health care, and, if possible, college education. Often, however, mothers do not prioritize their own financial health or the importance of having an overall strategy for supporting themselves in their senior years or in case of a financial emergency. (Note: in 2009, 43 percent of Americans had less than $10,000 in retirement savings, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute's annual Retirement Confidence Survey, with women having significantly lower retirement savings rate than men.)
The scary part is that no one else can do the financial planning for you. Sure, you can hire a financial planner to help you set goals and give you the tools and education to help you achieve them. But only you can come up with the discipline and forethought necessary to put money aside systematically throughout your life. “I can’t save right now,” you’re probably thinking. “I can hardly make ends meet as it is.” But if you’re not saving for your future, who is? How are you going to afford your retirement years that could stretch into decades if you don’t begin saving now?
Women may be born nurturers. It is time we think of money as one more thing to care for, for our own sake and that of our children.