Women Remain Much Less Confident about Finances

More women are becoming engaged in family finances beyond budgeting for daily household expenses; however, they are still less confident than men and, surprisingly, younger women are most deferential.

More women are becoming engaged in family finances beyond budgeting for daily household expenses; however, they are still less confident about investing, according to a new survey.

The Fidelity Investments fourth “Couples Retirement Study” revealed that 24% of women claim primary responsibility for day-to-day financial decisions, up from 15% in 2011. Plus, 19% of women are primarily in charge of long-term retirement decision compared to just 9% in the previous year.

However, according to the survey, men are more likely than women to be very confident in their own ability to take full financial responsibility of retirement decisions. Furthermore, women were also more confident in their spouse’s ability than their own. And younger women tended to be the most deferential of all.

”Women are giving so much of themselves at work, with their families, and in the community, but it’s just as important to take the time and ensure all that hard work is protected financially,” Kathleen Murphy, president of Personal Investing at Fidelity, said in a statement. “While a lot of progress has been made, it’s critical for women to empower themselves by becoming equal partners managing the family finances and in long-term financial planning conversations.”

Fidelity’s research highlights the importance of women being better prepared to make retirement and investing decisions. Not only can the average American expect to spend at least 30 years in retirement, but the divorce rate greater than 50% and the average woman outliving the man in her life by almost five years — there is a significant likelihood many women will need to assume sole responsibility for their finances at some point.

The Fidelity study also revealed that more than three-quarters of Gen Y women (born 1979 to 1988) are working, but they are playing a more passive financial role than older women. A quarter of Boomer women (born 1946 to 1966) are the primary decision maker for day-to-day financial decisions compared to just 12% of Gen Y women.

“The stakes are higher than ever, with people living longer and lingering questions about the sustainability of such things as Social Security and pensions, as well as the rising cost of healthcare and college,” Murphy said. “People are working way too hard not to make the most of their money and build a secure future. Just as you plan for things annually, such as taxes and vacation, it’s important to make financial planning a regular part of your conversations as a couple.”