Nearly half of American women consider themselves to be their household's chief financial officer (CFO), and more than 40% say that they are their family's main breadwinner, according to a new study on women and money from Allianz Life.
In one of the largest studies of women and their priorities and attitudes toward money and investing — Allianz Life’s 2023 Women, Money and Power Study from Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life) — nearly half, or 49%, of all women, said that they consider themselves to be their household’s chief financial officer, up from 41% in 2021. However, 64% of women feel less secure financially than they did in the past.
Women playing a commanding role in household finances was not always the case. Up until 1974, married women needed their husband’s permission to open a bank account, apply for a credit card or sign up for a mortgage. If you were single, you had to find a male co-signer. That changed with the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which was signed into law in 1974 (only 50 years ago).
A lot has changed, and women have come a long way toward financial freedom, often by hitting and shattering glass ceilings.
Key findings from the Allianz survey on women and money:
- 49% of women consider themselves to be the Chief Financial Officer of their household, up from 41% in 2021
- 43% of women say they are the primary breadwinner in their family, up from 34% in 2021
- 51% of women say they are more financially savvy than their spouse or partner, up from 46% in 2021
- However, women still feel less secure financially than they did in the past
- Many women are uneasy about their retirement plans
Taking on more financial responsibility
The 2023 online study looked at 900 women aged 25-75 with an annual household income of $30k+. It showed that women are taking on more financial responsibility by making financial decisions for their households and managing their family's money.
Still, many women feel less secure financially than they did in the past and are uneasy about their retirement plans. Divorced women are the most nervous, with just 38% saying they feel confident about their retirement plans. Meanwhile, 47% of single women, 56% of married women, and 53% of widowed women said the same.
Women are increasingly financially savvy
The study also pointed out that more than half (51%) of women say they are more financially savvy than their spouse or partner, up from 46% in 2021. About one in three women view their finances as independent from their spouse or partner, with younger women more likely to take this view.
Seeking financial guidance
At the same time, taking on more financial responsibility can often add to the day-to-day mental strain of work and family. Sometimes, seeking the help of a professional because they have more education and experience can give you peace of mind while keeping you on track with your retirement and investing plans.
In fact, 33% of women currently have a financial professional they consult, up from 26% in 2021. Of those who use a financial professional, 77% say they are their ‘go-to’ source for information, and 73% wish they would have met with a financial professional sooner.
“Women are holding more economic power, and yet they still lack financial confidence,” says Heidi Vanderkloot, head of FMO distribution at Allianz Life. “The guidance of a financial professional can help women define a long-term financial strategy to increase that sense of confidence. A strong financial approach can include risk mitigation strategies and help ease the worry of future unknowns.”
For the past 18+ years, Kathryn has highlighted the humanity in personal finance by shaping stories that identify the opportunities and obstacles in managing a person's finances. All the same, she’ll jump on other equally important topics if needed. Kathryn graduated with a degree in Journalism and lives in Duluth, Minnesota. She joined Kiplinger in 2023 as a contributor.
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