Financial Experts Advise Women To Proactively Engage In Own Financial Planning In Any Relationship

Most older married women have yet to participate in long-term financial planning for retirement and investments. Bread-winning spouses traditionally assumed that responsibility.

This generation of women took responsibility for short-term financial goals, managing the household budget, tracking spending, and paying bills. They often lack clarification about retirement readiness. If their relationship changes, for whatever reason, they need to know how to examine and plan for longer-term goals.

Financial experts advise all women to participate more in making their own long-term financial goals and financial planning early in their lives, regardless of relationship status.

Less Confident About Their Financial Future

A recent Equitable study found that 46% of women felt knowledgeable about financial matters, bolstered by their confidence regarding day-to-day finances (59%) and budgeting (50%). However, they are less confident than men concerning long-term planning, specifically retirement planning (29%) and investing (20%).

Women seek greater financial engagement regarding significant life changes, such as becoming parents, changing incomes, divorce, widowhood, and retirement.

Married Women Rely on Partners for Their Long-Term Financial Security

The study asserted that coupled women — those who are married or partnered — feel more confident in reaching their financial goals than those who are single or uncoupled. Women in relationships often rely on partners’ retirement planning, more so if they have not worked in recent years. However, their financial decision-making becomes more purposeful, requiring more immediate attention to their sole needs if they become uncoupled as single, divorced, or widowed.

“With uncoupled women, including divorcees and widows, I see more anxiety because they are relying on themselves for retirement and any other goals; they also tend to feel less confident about their financial picture than their male counterparts. They tend to be more interested in safety nets, such as overweight cash allocations, long-term care insurance, and annuities to mitigate risk,” says Jennifer Kirby, a fiduciary Chartered SRI Counselor (CIMA) and a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CSRIC) from Talisman Wealth Advisors.

Single Women by Choice

Women who are single by choice have more impetus to become financially involved. “Single women tend to tackle their financial issues over time. They rely on themselves from the start, talking to friends and colleagues about work, compensation, and benefits. As they approach retirement, they become increasingly concerned about being retirement-ready. This is when they seek professional advice from a qualified financial planner,” says Marianne M. Nolte, CFP of Imagine Financial Services.

Younger Women Plan More

Married women may sacrifice too much authority when planning retirement with spouses. “With older couples, I still see men taking the lead on all major decisions around planning, even if they confer with their spouses. I find it rare with anyone over 60 where the woman is leading the discussion,” says Kirby.

She adds, “With younger couples, it does feel more egalitarian, with each partner more involved. Women increase their interest in planning when I see them outearning their spouses more than in prior generations, which correlates to increased involvement. This cohort has a much bigger appetite for planning, less so for investments in individual securities.”

Kirby points out, ” … single women — particularly non-Boomer women — are more eager to plan than married women.”

“What Ifs?”

Nolte adds, “It makes sense that single women often establish a financial planning relationship with a qualified financial advisor when relying on themselves, and married women should do the same. However, this realization tends to happen later in life with married women.

“As they approach retirement age or once their husband passes away, they realize they don’t know much about the family finances. It is frightening to women when they lose their spouse and realize they don’t know their financial matters and have what-ifs to tackle: is their money to last their lifetime, how does the spouse’s death impact taxes, social security, and finding estate documents?”

“For those women who are younger and married, as they mature, they become more curious about the ‘what if,’ such as ‘what if my husband dies or we run out of money?’”

Working With Financial Professionals

57% of women who received guidance from a financial professional become more confident in their fiscal goals. In contrast, only 40% of those who did not work with an advisor felt the same confidence. However, the benefits varied by age, with 71% of boomers feeling more comfortable asking for help versus just 50% of Gen Z women.

Few women — about 20% — hire a financial advisor, though Zippia found that 27.7% of financial advisors are women. When married women become single, through divorce or widowhood, they shift their attention to the economic present and away from long-term planning. Such shifts are when women may become more vulnerable.

There may be legitimate reasons why women might not go to a financial advisor. “Many women, regardless of relationship status, carry a lot of shame around their finances from past money mistakes. The shame is a barrier to action, making it uncomfortable to go to a financial professional for assistance for fear of judgment,” explains Stephanie McCullough, financial planner and founder of Sofia Financial.

She adds,” I wish more women would feel confident to step in and look at their money situation and financial planning, but I’m not sure what the magic formula is to get them to feel more comfortable doing so.”

Women Need To Engage in Short and Long-Term Financial Goals

Financial planning is an essential step for everyone. Early planners can better take advantage of compounding retirement savings and investments, which can ensure a comfortable retirement life.

While women are more comfortable with the day-to-day household finances, they must be more proactive about long-term financial goals, specifically retirement savings and investments in any relationships they hold. Fully two-thirds of women across the board wished they had paid closer attention to financial matters, irrespective of their age, life stage, or relationship status. Actively engaging in financial planning — with a partner, a professional, or independently — will give women more economic confidence.

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