What Issues Matter Most to Women – Growing Financial Pressures on Family Life

April 25, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Financial Services | Pharma & Healthcare | Real Estate | Retail & E-Commerce | Women

Women and their families are experiencing tremendous financial woes – on issues ranging from housing to credit card debt to healthcare – and are concerned about their long-term financial security, according to a Meredith Corporation/NBC Universal survey.

The nationwide “What do Women Want?” survey of 3,000 women covered a wide range of topics important to women, including marriage and family, health and fitness, safety, and financial matters.

The following findings on the economy and personal financial challenges are among those at the forefront for women – and the Presidential campaign – and affect how women view the issues, Meredith/NBC Universal said:

  • Two-thirds (68%) of women cite “financial strain” as a major threat to the American Family – and a much bigger threat than “divorce” (48%), “loss of faith/spirituality” (47%), “liberal views on sex and sexuality” (32%), “both parents working” (28%), “unwed mothers” (21%) and “couples living together instead of getting married” (19%).
  • The majority (79%) of women in dual-income households say it is “essential for both spouses/partners to be employed in order to make ends meet.”
  • Six in 10 women are concerned about being able to pay their bills each month (60%) – especially high among single mothers with children under 18 (80%).
  • 72% of women are concerned about rising taxes – especially Boomer women (81%).
  • 4 in 10 (38%) women “feel overwhelmed by financial burdens” – even higher for Gen X (47%) and mothers of children under 18 (47%) and single mothers with children under 18 (52%).
  • 4 in 10 (38%) women have incurred medical debt – even higher among mothers of children under 18 (49%), especially young mothers 18-34 (59%).
  • Only 15% of women say they do not have any debt.
  • 22% of women report being over $20,000 in non-mortgage debt – even higher for Gen X women (30%).
  • Three quarters of women are concerned about the future of social security (77%) and saving enough for retirement (75%).

The following are detailed findings from the study.

Housing

  • 57% of women are concerned about being able to pay monthly mortgage/rent – even higher among Gen X women (65%) and mothers with children under 18 (64%) and single mothers with children under 18 (72%).
  • One quarter (26%) of women or their partners are counting on real estate and home equity for retirement.
  • 72% of women are concerned about rising taxes – even higher among Boomer women (81%).

Non-Mortgage Debt & Credit Cards

  • 85% of women report being in some sort of debt – with Gen Y women being the least likely to have debt (24% report no debt).
  • 22% of women have over $20,000 in debt, excluding mortgage debt – Gen X (30%) especially likely to be more than $20,000 in non-mortgage related debt.
  • 62% of women have credit card debt – even higher among Gen X (72%) and young mothers 18-34 (70%).
  • 51% of women are concerned about credit card debt – even higher among Gen X (64%).
  • 28% of women say “credit card debt prevents me from saving for the future” – even higher for Gen X women (36%).
  • Only 31% of women report paying off their credit card bills every month – even lower for Gen X (26%), young mothers 18-34 (21%) and single mothers with children under 18 (21%).
  • 26% say they “dread the arrival of their credit card bills every month” – even higher among Gen X women (35%) and mothers of children under 18 (34%) and single mothers with children under 18 (41%).

Healthcare

  • Nearly half (46%) of women are extremely concerned about rising healthcare costs – especially high among Boomer women (55%) and single mothers with children under 18 (52%).
  • 38% have incurred debt from medical bills – even higher among mothers of children under 18 (49%), especially young mothers 18-34 (59%).
  • One in 5 (18%) women report that they do not have health insurance coverage – even higher among single mothers with children under 18 (24%).
  • Among those women who do have health coverage, nearly half (46%) are worried about being able to afford healthcare when they retire and 40% say their “co-payments keep increasing and becoming too expensive.”
  • Baby Boomer women with health insurance coverage are especially likely to be worried about how they will afford healthcare when they retire (52%) as are single mothers with children under 18 (53%).
  • One-quarter of insured women say they “can only afford generic prescriptions” (25%) and “sometimes don’t fill a prescription because it is too expensive” (22%).
  • Single mothers are especially likely to say that they can only afford generic brand prescriptions (38%).
  • 18% of single mothers with children under 18 also say that their current healthcare coverage doesn’t include all members of their family (vs. 11% of Total insured women) and to say that “the family plan is too expensive to add to my existing plan” (23% vs. 9% Total insured women).
  • When given a list of social issues that affect American society, “uninsured Americans” is among the top 5 concerns among women along with “child abuse,” “drug/substance abuse,” “domestic violence,” and “homelessness.”

Retirement & Social Security

  • Three quarters of women are concerned about the future of social security (77%) and saving enough for retirement (75%) – Baby Boomer women are especially concerned about the future of social security (84%) while Gen X women are particularly concerned about saving enough for retirement (84%).
  • Two-thirds (67%) of women and/or their partners are counting on social security for retirement – this is especially high for Baby Boomer women (79%).
  • Two-thirds of Gen X women and/or their partners are counting on social security (65%) and their 401(k)/Roth/IRAs for retirement (64%).
  • 32% of women and/or their partners are counting on a company pension for retirement, especially Boomer women (42%).
  • Mothers of children under 18 and single mothers are more likely than most to be concerned about saving enough for retirement as well (82%, 85% respectively).

Personal Savings & Investing

  • 52% of women and/or their partners are counting on personal savings/investments for their retirement.
  • Only half (54%) of women put money in savings on a regular basis – somewhat higher for Gen Y (60%).
  • Only 13% of women say they regularly make investments in stocks, bonds or mutual funds.
  • 38% say they feel overwhelmed by the complexities of investing.

About the study: Applied Research & Consulting conducted an online survey among 3,000 women age 18-64 from October 1 to October 12, 2007. Some sections were administered to a split sample to accommodate the length of the survey. The data was sample balanced to reflect the US Census Bureau.

Meredith’s media brands include Ladies’ Home Journal, More, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, Fitness, Siempre Mujer and BHG.com. NBC Universal’s brands include The Today Show, MSNBC, Bravo, Oxygen, Access Hollywood, Telemundo, and iVillage.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This