Women are willing to talk about a lot of things, but their financial situation isn’t one of them, a new survey reveals.
Four out of five women (80%) say they have refrained at some point from talking about their finances with family and friends, according to the survey of 1,542 women, ages 18 and older. All the respondents were employed or retired and had a retirement plan such as 401(k), 403(b), 401(a) or 457. Among the top reasons they give for staying mum about money: They consider it too personal, they don’t want those close to them to know the information, it makes them uncomfortable or they weren’t raised to discuss money.
Almost half (43%) of women will talk to friends about health issues, but only 17% will discuss investment ideas, the survey found. And 77% are confident discussing medical issues with a doctor on their own, but only 47% are confident discussing money and investing with a financial professional on their own.
“Women are very willing to talk about their health, including to a medical professional, but much less willing to talk about their wealth or seek the help of a financial professional,” says Kathleen Murphy, president of personal investing at Fidelity Investments.
The survey found that 74% of the respondents say they’re saving for the future. Still, 60% of women worry about having enough savings to last throughout retirement. Only 37% are confident they can plan for their retirement financial needs without help from someone.
Fidelity’s company data of more than 12 million investors shows that women have better savings rates than men. “Women are good savers, which is terrific,” Murphy says. “The challenge is moving from saving the money to investing it wisely.
“For women who do invest, historically, they tend to do better than men. Women take a disciplined approach,” she says. “They want to know what the most age-based asset-allocation mix is for them, and then they stick with that asset-allocation plan.”
The big challenge for many women is they have a “confidence issue” about their ability to invest, she says. “It’s not enough to save the money. If you are going to be living until you are 100 years old, then you have to figure out a way to invest the money to make it work for you.”
Other survey findings:
• 82% are confident in managing their day-to-day budgeting, but 50% say they are often nervous about the financial decisions they make.
• Those who are not confident about their financial decisions, give these reasons: 37% haven’t done their research about their options; 36% don’t have much experience because they haven’t done their own finances; 36% don’t know whom to talk with to get the best advice.
• 83% want to be more involved in their finances within the next year.
Women have a pent-up motivation to get started, and there’s no time like the present, Murphy says. “The money you save now will pay huge dividends later. If you start early, it will have a compounding effect.”
Among Murphy’s suggestions for women:
• Take advantage of workplace retirement guidance. Many employers offer free on-site financial workshops and guidance, and some offer one-on-one help, she says. Check with your company’s human resources department about these options. Also, there is a lot of free financial information online, she says.
• Get a financial buddy. Find someone to talk with about finances. Ask questions. This will help you gain more confidence, she says.
• Find a financial adviser. After you have gotten some education, see a financial adviser, Murphy says. “You want to be armed with the right information.”