Whether you have a tendency to save or a tendency to spend, or whether you’re a low earning or a high earner, women of all stripes have one thing in common: money concerns are keeping them up at night. Money stress can be just as toxic as other worries in our lives, if not more so. And the research is clear – stress can lead to myriad health problems, even early death.
It’s not a stretch to imagine that women living paycheck-to-paycheck would be worried about their finances. But it turns out that wealthy women who are doing everything they’re supposed to do financially (like paying their bills on time, saving and investing) are just as stressed.
“Broadly speaking, women in particular are worried because there is so much uncertainty,” says leading retirement expert Anne Lester, Education Fellow with the Alliance for Lifetime Income and former Head of Retirement Solutions for JPMorgan Asset Management. “It’s the unknown combination of not knowing how long you’ll live and how the markets will do.”
According to new research from HerMoney and the Alliance for Lifetime Income, nearly three out of five (58%) women worry about their finances at least several times a month. For 28% percent of them, it’s several times a week, and a full 14% of women said they worry about their money every single day. (Only 10% said they have complete control over their financial stressors.) Most starting is that even among women with annual household incomes of more than $200,000, nearly half say they are concerned about their finances.
So, what, exactly, is keeping women across America up at night? Competing financial forces are one; a lack of enough savings is another. Then there’s the desire to earn more that has so many women fretting about money. Among older women, running out of retirement savings is a big concern. (After all, we know women tend to outlive their male counterparts by about five years… And we’ve got to be prepared.)
While all of these are valid reasons to lose sleep, they don’t have to be causing you anxiety. There are ways to face money worries head-on, and ensure you’re on the right footing for a successful retirement, whether that date is ten or thirty years in your future.
BEEF UP YOUR FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE
Knowledge is power, particularly when it comes to overcoming money worries. Simply put, the more you know, the less you worry. The women in the HerMoney/Alliance for Lifetime Income survey bear that out. The ones who took the necessary steps to create a retirement income plan worried significantly less than those who didn’t. “Financial literacy provides context for people so things can be viewed more holistically and grounded in history,” says Lester. “Finance context matters and history matters. Financial literacy helps with both of these.”
Thankfully, the internet and technology have changed the financial literacy game for women worldwide. Today, there are a plethora of online tools, tutorials, videos, educational articles, and simple software packages that can help you learn the basics. It may sound crazy, but saving money for retirement can be a lot easier than figuring out when and how much you can actually spend in retirement. Women should seriously consider talking to a certified financial professional, who can help create a financial plan that will enable you to achieve your short and long-term goals, whether you have $5,000 or $5,000,000. It’s a common myth that financial professionals are only for the wealthy. According to the HerMoney/Alliance for Lifetime Income survey, 80% of women who don’t know how to build wealth find themselves worrying several times a month about their finances, compared to just 50% who know what they are doing.
GET INVOLVED WITH YOUR MONEY
Playing the CFO of your household finances is vital to achieving financial independence and peace of mind. If you don’t know exactly how much money is coming in, where it’s going out, and where your money is actually invested, you won’t know if there’s reason to worry or not. “The most important thing for you to step forward with confidence and get involved is taking inventory of what you owe and what you own,” says Lorna Kapusta, Head of Women Investors and Customer Engagement at Fidelity, “You can then identify opportunities to do more with your money.”
DO TALK ABOUT MONEY, AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP
Unfortunately, even in 2022, women may be afraid to speak up about their finances or may be reluctant to make financial decisions on their own. (Which is one of the reasons it’s so important for us to normalize women talking about their money!) When we have unanswered questions hanging over us, it can lead to paralysis and inaction. When you speak up and ask questions, you can lesson your money worries. “There are no stupid questions if it’s your money,” Lester says. “They are all good questions.”
And if the tasks before you seem overwhelming, that’s where a financial planner can come in. He or she can help you create a plan to meet your short and long-term goals, explain how things work, and calm you down when things go south. The best financial professionals will become a trusted partner to you throughout your financial journey. “Speaking as a woman who has gone through the ups and downs of financial planning, my recommended antidote to worry is financial education, the right financial professional, and enough protected income to cover your basic expenses for as long as you live,” says Jean Statler, CEO of the Alliance for Lifetime Income.
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