Irrational fears are often a source of amusement: aliens, monsters, 1950s Gort-style robots gobbling old people’s medicine for fuel. On the surface, degenerating to the point of a destitute bag lady might elicit a smirk, but a new study from Allianz Life makes clear it’s nothing to laugh about.
Although 60% of women say they are the primary breadwinner in their household and more than half (54%) describe themselves as the household “CFO,” nearly half of all women fear becoming a “bag lady,” according to the 2013 Women, Money & Power Study.
The study, conducted with women ages 25 to 75 with a minimum household income of $30,000 a year, revealed this fear extends to all corners of life and affluence, and was highest among single respondents at 56%, but also a significant concern for divorced women (54%), widows (47%) and married women (43%).
Despite feeling more empowered about financial planning and having more responsibility for financial decisions than ever before, many women believe that empowerment is potentially alienating to both men and other women. Forty-two percent said they believe financially independent women are intimidating to men and often end up alone, while nearly a third (31%) said those women are hard to relate to and often don’t have many friends. This feeling was even higher among single women at 47% and 32%, respectively.
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“When Allianz Life conducted the initial wave of [the study] seven years ago, we discovered that women everywhere—even well-educated, successful, financially independent women—have major gaps and unmet needs when it comes to achieving comfort and confidence with money,” Allianz Life vice president of consumer insights Katie Libbe said in a statement. “Today, women clearly feel more invested in financial planning, however, fears of fiscal failure still persist. The real message here is that the financial services industry needs to help women learn about money and prepare for their retirement.” Age of the Financially Empowered Woman
Despite lingering insecurities, women feel more empowered today about financial planning and are more responsible for financial decisions than ever before. Fifty-seven percent of all women surveyed said they both “have more earning power than ever before” and also “handle major investment decisions and retirement planning.” More than half (55%) noted they take the lead in suggesting new investing or retirement ideas, and 60% said they were responsible for handling tax preparation and planning.