For years, the phrase “gender gap” referred to the differences in the outcomes that men and women achieve in the labor market. But when it comes to finances, what separates the sexes may actually be a vast “confidence gap.” “Women are more educated and earning more than before,” says MassMutual’s Senior Vice President Christine Frederick. “Now women need to focus on building their confidence that they are securing their financial futures.”
Women Take the Lead
Case in point: Women, who are outpacing men with bachelor’s degrees, held close to 68 million jobs in 2013, which comprised 47 percent of the workforce and 51 percent of management, professional and related positions, according to the US Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Perhaps due to the increase in degree conferrals, single childless women ages 22 to 30 now have a higher median income than their male peers and 35 percent of women in dual-earning households are now the breadwinners of the family. Among mothers with children under age 18, 70 percent are working.
At home, women are responsible for making almost 75 percent of the purchasing decisions and are estimated to hold up to $15 trillion in purchase power annually. With this information, it seems indisputable who’s keeping America’s economy going these days.
Women Take Charge
When these facts and others like them are considered, it’s clear that women are taking charge. They are very capable in many aspects of life. Why should finances be any different? Truth is, women are far more competent than they are confident in their ability to plan and manage financially.
Take retirement, for instance: Though women have lower lifetime savings than men (for a variety of reasons, including the wage gap and work interruptions), the majority of women have estimated the amount of savings that is needed for retirement and have developed a plan for retirement saving. And women with a plan—a Mass Mutual study found—do a better job of sticking to it than men.
Also, as the traditional family caregivers, women, who tend to bear the responsibilities of elder care, are more likely to say that they want to avoid placing that same burden on their own children, making women more concerned about the cost of long-term care and overall healthcare during their retirement years. Women have also shown an increased desire to be involved in financial decision-making and are taking a more active role in managing their finances. What’s more, they believe in the importance of educating children about money to help ensure that the next generation has the knowledge necessary to feel differently about their own finances in adulthood.
A Call to Financial Action
With all that women have accomplished, they are undoubtedly taking charge of their financial present and future. The only thing holding them back is confidence in their ability.
If you’re ready to embrace your financial competence because research shows you have it, talk to a financial expert who is knowledgeable, someone that you can relate to and who is willing to understand your goals and objectives, advises Frederick. “Of course, we, at Mass Mutual, welcome the opportunity to have a conversation about your short- and long-term goals and the ways we can work together to help you get there—confidently,” she adds.
Christine Frederick will be introducing the panel, “Transforming Your Organization, Transforming Your Life,” at the 2014 Massachusetts Conference for Women.