Women worry about kids, spouses, work, and, of course, money. In fact, recent studies show that women are more concerned about money than men are.
- According to the 17th annual retirement survey data from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS), only 14 percent of women felt they'd fully recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, compared to 25 percent of men.
- At the same time, a CreditCards.com national survey found that 68 percent of women reported difficulty sleeping as a result of at least one financial problem, compared to 56 percent of men.
- And Northwestern Mutual's Planning and Progress Study 2016 found that money stress is even more common for single females, with 50 percent of single women reporting feeling "moderate or a lot of anxiety" about their personal finances, compared to 41 percent of married women.
Here are a few ideas on how to manage five common financial responsibilities that women face today.
1. Having Enough Retirement Savings
Face your concerns and assess your retirement savings with a free online retirement savings calculator to calculate how much you'll need based on your current situation. Then, visit a financial professional.
"Have a financial plan completed," says Glenda Copeland, Senior Vice President, Private Client Services for First Tennessee. "It will give you a snapshot of exactly where you are, and make you think about your short- and long-term plans."
If your financial advisor uncovers a retirement savings shortfall, Copeland advises you may have to reallocate your portfolio and review your time frame for retirement.
Do you have a 401(k)? If so, review your employer contributions. "Are you receiving all available matching dollars in your 401(k)?" asks Copeland. "This is an easy way to start building retirement savings."
2. Paying for Unexpected Expenses
Are you prepared? As the TCRS data revealed, women have an average of just $2,000 in emergency savings compared to the $10,000 average emergency savings men have.
"You need to build an emergency fund, " says Copeland, who suggests using payroll deductions for automatic savings into an account designated for emergency cash. A prevailing rule of thumb is to have an emergency fund that is equal to at least three to six months of your expenses.
As you are building up this emergency fund, you might also look for ways to supplement your cash safety net, should unexpected expenses arise. "Check the loan provisions in your 401(k)," Copeland says. "You may be able to borrow money against your 401(k) without penalty." She also suggests the possibility of using a credit card balance transfer to a card with a lower interest rate and higher limit, so that you could gain access to more funds at a reduced rate if needed.
3. Covering Health Care Costs
Don't waste time wondering how to pay for future health care needs, says Copeland. “Shop around, and compare prices so that you have a handle on the true costs of the most affordable coverages that fit your specific needs. Healthcare costs should also be addressed in your financial plan".
Also, review any long-term care and disability insurance protection you may own for yourself and for your spouse, and really think about what you could need over your lifetime.
Note that a recent report put the estimated lifetime health care costs for a 65-year-old woman living to 89 at $314,673, compared to $267,395 for a man. Talk with your financial advisor about getting additional coverage if needed.
4. Supporting/Caring for Aging Parents
If your aging parents will depend on you for support and care, it's important to talk to them frankly about finances. As a 2016 Genworth study found, Americans greatly underestimate the costs of long-term care.
As difficult as it is, talk to your parents. "Ask them — do they have long-term care insurance policies and, if not, what plan do they have in place?" says Copeland. It may be a hard conversation, but be direct and explain that you want to help ensure that their needs and specific healthcare wishes are met.
Next, research care options and costs in their area. If primary responsibility for their care will fall to you, examine your own finances carefully to adjust savings contributions and expenses to accommodate potential lost income during this time.
5. Managing Information Overload
With so many competing financial priorities, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Perhaps what you need most is to get your financial house in order. It's important to know where you stand: Are your beneficiary designations up to date? Do you know which documents you need to keep (and which you can toss)? Do you have a system for managing your budget?
Build a relationship with a financial advisor who is willing and able to speak your language — keeping things clear and educational — so you can increase your financial confidence over time.
Also, take advantage of available tools, such as a personalized web portal that combines all the important elements of your financial life, allowing you to connect your various accounts for automatic updates, upload important documents and records to a secure vault, and add personal data about family members, real estate holdings, or other financial information to which you'd like to have online access.
Putting It Together
You're not alone when it comes to managing your money. Contact a First Tennessee Private Client Relationship Manager who can put you in touch with an FTB Advisors professional to help you grow your confidence with your finances.