A newly released national survey finds that whether women are single, married and co-habitants, divorced or widowed can have key differences in their attitudes and behaviors with regard to investing.
The OppenheimerFunds, Inc. 2007 Women & Investing Survey (1), released today, found that attitudes about investing differed among marital demographics, especially in the case of widows. Widowed women had more confidence when it came to managing their money, with nearly 65% of widowed respondents giving themselves a rating of 8 or better on a scale of 1-10 when asked how good of a job they are doing managing their money. This compares with nearly 40% of married/co-habitants and single respondents and 52% of divorced respondents who answered in the same way.
"It makes sense that women who are responsible for their own finances through a major life event such as widowhood or divorce have more confidence in their money management skills," said Lauren Coulston, Assistant Vice President, Advocacy and Training Manager at OppenheimerFunds. "One possible reason for this confidence could be because we see more widows working with financial advisors. Widowed women are often forced to deal with their own finances and appear to approach financial planning methodically. Often financial planning occurs in a time of crisis but it does not have to."
Widowed respondents were also more likely (almost 68%) to list retirement as their primary investment goal followed by divorced (59%), married/co- habitants (57%) and single (54%), and least likely to cite a lack of extra money as the reason they are not currently participating in a retirement savings vehicle or plan. When asked which source of information they relied on for investing advice, widows accounted for the highest percentage (40.5%), that relied on a financial advisor followed by divorced (17.3%), married/co- habitants (16.7%) and single (11%), and were the least likely group to rely on no source of investment information.
"The fact is, eighty to ninety percent of women will be solely responsible for managing their own finances at some point of their life due to longer life expectancies and higher divorce rates, said Coulston. "Regardless of marital status, financial advisors should bring women into financial conversations as early as possible."
Women Know It Will Be Expensive To Retire Yet Knowing is Only Half the Battle...
The majority of women (58%) agreed that retirement was their primary investment goal, however, half do not participate in a retirement plan. When asked why they aren't currently participating, most women (55%) responded that they didn't have enough extra money to save, followed by nearly 40% who said they weren't working and nearly 30% said paying off debt impacted saving for retirement. Meanwhile, when asked if they had $1,000 to spare, whether female respondents would use it towards vacation or retirement, over half said they'd spend it on a vacation.
When asked how often they think about retirement, only 25% think about it often or very often and 30% do not think about it at all. 79% of women stated a lack of preparation for retirement.
While 44% of women said retirement plans will be their primary source of income during retirement, half of the respondents were not participating in a plan. One third of women expect to rely on social security and 12% on pensions. In addition, an overwhelming majority of women said that healthcare costs (93%), inflation (82%), social security (82%) and standard of living (80%) would be big concerns for them while they were in retirement.
"When we ask women what would motivate them to start saving for retirement, year after year, they say if they knew saving just $50 a month over several decades would provide them with more than $500,000," said Coulston. "Our research shows that women want financial advisors to start discussing retirement planning with them more than 10 years prior to retirement, when in reality, those discussions need to take place much sooner."
Lost Generation of Women Boomers and Gen Xers -- Weakest Link Among Women Investors
Women within the second wave of Boomers-ages 43 through 51, within what is considered the "lost generation" and Gen Xers are the most unprepared for retirement, according to the survey. Overall, 79% of women did not feel financially prepared for retirement, the majority of which (52%) were between the ages of 35-54. Forty four percent between the ages of 35-54 stated that retirement was their primary investment goal however nearly 50% had not thought about retirement within the past month, and almost 40% were not enrolled in any sort of retirement savings vehicle or plan. When asked why there were not currently participating in a retirement savings vehicle or plan, 44% of women aged 35-54 did not have extra money to save.
"It appears that these groups of women investors say one thing but do another when it comes to retirement savings," said Coulston. "While we would like to see them saving more, this presents a good opportunity for financial advisors to try to engage these women as early on as possible as it is crucial that they start to save and invest as early as possible."
Women's lack of confidence in their own ability to invest is apparent in this group as well. Among those surveyed who felt they were not very knowledgeable about investing, nearly 50% fell in the 35-54 age range.
So Much for The Single Woman Care-Free Lifestyle -- Married and Co- Habitants Have More Debt
More than 60% of women surveyed have over $5,000 in household debt and more than 30% maintain over $20,000, which remained unchanged from last year's research. Credit card debt (60%) once again was cited as the number one source of debt listed, with most women (75%) using 2 or more credit cards and half using 3 or more credit cards.
Of the women surveyed, married or co-habitant respondents had the highest percentages of household debt over both $5,000 (74%) and $20,000 (40%) with single women following with 59% over $5,000 or more, and 23% over $20,000. Married or co-habitants also had the most credit card debt (63%) and carried the most number of credit cards with 20% carrying debt on 5 or more cards and half carrying debt on 3 or more. Widowed respondents however were the least likely to carry any debt.
Other Interesting Statistics
-- Married and co-habitants are equally as likely to rely on co-workers, friends and relatives for investment advice as they are their spouse or a financial professional.
-- The majority of women said that it's most appropriate to discuss finances later in the dating phase (48%) or upon getting engaged (30%).
-- Most women surveyed (73%) do not work with a financial advisor and the number one stated reason (71%) is because they don't think they have enough money followed by 8% of women who said they invest on their own.
-- Half of women surveyed do not plan to purchase long-term care insurance in retirement, yet 93% of women are concerned about healthcare costs in retirement.
-- 40% of women say they never rebalance their retirement plan portfolio.
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(1) The survey, which was conducted by Insight Express, examined the investment behaviors, knowledge and attitudes of 500 female and 500 male investors in August 2007. OppenheimerFunds conducted its first major research study on women and money in 1992, and has been a leading advocate for women's financial independence since then. The Company regularly conducts studies on women and their investing habits.