According to a new survey from Edward Jones, “Female Financial Empowerment,”while women have made significant strides in gender and income equality in the workplace, one of the biggest obstacles they continue to face is the tendency to “prioritize immediate family needs” over saving for their own future.
That certainly helps explain what the financial services firm acknowledges is an inherent conflict in the findings: Although seven out of 10 women polled say they feel “confident” in their financial knowledge, all too many have actually done little to generate their own long-term wealth.
“Only 25 percent of women surveyed consider saving for retirement as their most important goal over the next three to five years,” says Nela Richardson, an investment strategist at Edward Jones. “That tells us that female financial empowerment should be next on the list of barriers women have broken over the past few decades.”
The two other biggest challenges women need to surmount, according to the national sample of 1,004 adult women ages 18 and older, is waiting for the “perfect” time to invest (something men do as well), or something else to motivate them.
Some examples: A big raise or other windfall (49 percent). A financial emergency (20 percent). A significant life event (20 percent). A market correction (12 percent).
“Waiting for a raise or a significant life event, by definition, isn’t a financial strategy,” Richardson says, “and they’ll always have competing priorities. The key is to anticipate both tailwinds and headwinds in life, and be flexible enough to adapt to changing situations so you can meet your long-term financial goals.”
Edward Jones lays out a female-centric approach to handling your finances on its website. But here’s a quick cheat sheet to get you started:
• Make yourself a priority by starting to invest now in order to give your money time to grow – never underestimating the power of a wondrous thing called compound interest.
• Begin small with modest investments.
• Develop a goals-based financial strategy.
As for how much better women are doing financially, here’s one notable sign: Forbes’ list of the world’s 100 richest people featured just four females in 2000 compared to 10 this year. The richest woman – and fifteenth overall – is the L’Oréal heiress, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers ($49.3 billion), who is chairwoman of the family’s holding company.
But she inherited her wealth, you say? Well, the youngest billionaire ever, according to Forbes, is 21-year-old cosmetics wunderkind Kylie Jenner ($1 billion).