Women are taking the driving seats of their financial lives like never before. We take a look at how women are asserting control, what it means, and how to make more of it.
New research on female financial independence published today by HerMoney and the Life Annuity Alliance reveals that women are breaking stereotypes and taking control of their finances, careers and futures.
Nearly all women who reported being in a relationship play a role not only in managing household finances (94%), but also in managing investments (94%) and, contrary to popular belief, in planning of retirement (94%).
Women are proud of the financial decisions they have made, according to the first chapter of the State of Women in 2022 study. More than 1,000 women surveyed by HerMoney and Alliance say they are most proud to be regularly involved in their finances (68%) , pay off debt (56%), buy a house (53%), and be able to talk openly about money (53%).
Financially independent Ms. is here to stay
However, when it comes to love and money, most women prefer to keep the two separate. Among women who are in a relationship, only a third (33%) have fully merged their finances with their partner. This trend appears to have staying power. Among women who are currently single, only 2% (2%!) say they would merge all of her money with a spouse or partner in the future.
Clearly, the women have earned the title of “Mrs. Independent,” as even those in relationships take on more financial responsibility than their partners. More than half have primary responsibility for household finances (59%) and investments (51%), while nearly half (48%) manage retirement planning for themselves and their partner.
On average, women who share money management tasks with their partner take on more than half of the responsibility for household finances (55% of work), investments (54%) and retirement planning (55 %).
How do they make it work? By dividing housework more equitably. While some women in a relationship say they take the initiative in household chores (28%), the majority share or delegate responsibility for chores (66% and 6%, respectively) and household maintenance (16% lead, 47% share and 37% delegate).
“It is inspiring to see these women take the lead not only in managing their household finances, but also in investing for the future and planning for retirement,” says Jean Statler, executive director of the Alliance for Lifetime Income. “This research clearly dispels the old belief that women are the financial directors of the household, but are somehow absent when it comes to investing and retirement planning. Women have more to lose because they are more likely to live longer, are traditionally paid less than their male counterparts, and therefore need to further stretch their retirement income, increasing risk and the possibility of staying penniless. Ensuring that our income lasts 20, 30 or more years after retirement requires complex planning, which is why I tell all my friends: ‘it’s time to take charge and find a financial professional who looks after your interests’. I will add that those financial advisers who ignore women do so at their own financial peril.”
Women now focus on getting ahead at work
Despite taking the reins to become financially independent, only 60% of women surveyed believe their workplace is making progress in supporting women, and the pay gap is a major issue for many: a third (34%) know or suspect that men at their companies earn more for the same jobs. Among women who feel they are underpaid, one in six (17%) suspect they are underpaid because of their gender.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of women who work for others do not feel well paid, and in particular, about two in five (39%) who are dissatisfied with their pay plan to seek employment elsewhere. More than half (54%) of those who work have not received a raise above the cost of living in the last two years.
“Women have really taken on a financial leadership role in the household. What this new research shows is that we are beginning to apply that same initiative when it comes to money at work,” says Jean Chatzky, CEO of HerMoney and education fellow at the Alliance for Lifetime Income. “It’s really hard to separate work and family life at the end of the day, so look forward to seeing women continue down a path that unites them. One way that may appear this year: 100% of employers should be making progress in their support of women, and those that aren’t are facing the very real scenario that women will be looking for new employers.”
It’s always okay to ask for help
Working with a trusted financial professional is key to creating a successful financial plan that addresses both short-term and long-term goals. Several of HerMoney and Alliance’s free online tools can also help women take the lead in managing their personal finances, including:
- MoneyType™ Personality Assessment
- HerMoney Podcasts
- Woman’s Financial Well-Being Checklist
- RISE® Score
- Financial Planning Personality Questionnaire
- Find a financial professional
The State of Women 2022 is based on an online study conducted in March 2022 among more than 1,000 women who are members of the HerMoney community. They range in age from 18 to 75, most are college educated and work full time. Two-thirds are married or in a relationship.