A global pandemic and the social problems it brought to light have prompted more women to take the reins of family finances, with the goal of creating positive change and helping specific causes they care about. Many expressed their desire to live a more intentional life, using their time, money, and their expertise to achieve a greater sense of purpose. Having said that, true financial freedom requires both short-term and long-term planning, and the confidence to take action. Financial literacy among women is still very low in comparison to men. Women don’t talk about money with each other or with their partners, and that acts as a deterrent to their goals of financial independence.
According to a report which surveyed 1,400 high-net-worth women, the trends seem to be shifting in a more positive direction. The percentage of women who say they take the lead on financial decisions has climbed to 26%, up from 21% in 2018. Around 51% of women still defer to their spouse on financial decisions, but that’s down from 56% four years ago. Women are confident managing everyday financial tasks such as paying bills (92%) and managing a budget (87%), yet only half are confident managing investments (53%) and creating a diversified portfolio (44%). Almost all women who reported being with a partner play a role in managing not only their household finances (94%), but also managing investments (94%), and, contrary to popular belief, retirement planning (94%).
Bank of America has announced findings from a new body of research on women and financial wellness, which finds that 94% of women believe they will be personally responsible for their finances at some point in their adult life. Despite this, about half of women (48%) feel confident about their finances, and only 28% feel empowered to take action. The top obstacles women say are holding them back from investing include not having savings to invest (38%), lack of knowledge (32%), and believing investing is too risky (22%). Moreover, women face unique financial planning challenges with longer life expectancy, social inequalities, and responsibilities that are reserved for them. With the gender pay gap in place, they earn less than men and, more often than not, put their careers in the backseat to take care of children or aging parents. The income-earning pattern, investment style, and financial goals of women differ from their male family members, which largely affects their investment attitude.
When asked about their financial regrets, nearly half of women (44%) pointed to not saving and investing sooner. Women also say they would have invested more of their money (26%), educated themselves more around money (23%), not taken on as much credit card debt (21%), choosing a career with higher pay (19%), lived within their means (18%) and taken better care of their health (14%).
Times are changing, and one in five women now acknowledge that it is time to make a change to their finances. They are at a pivotal moment in terms of financial freedom, with an opportunity to close the gap between confidence, empowerment, and action. Modern-day women are dealing with life events involving financial hardships that revolve around losing a job, taking care of aging parents, or growing children returning to the household. In the changing social system, women are single by choice, not tolerating unhappy marriages anymore, or are single parents by choice. This is compelling them to make financial decisions on their own. To summarize, women are in a better position to take charge of managing finances as they have a more focused and practical approach as compared to men.
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