About 71% of women surveyed believe they are independent and on or ahead of target when it comes to achieving financial goals, according to a study from Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co.
While the company is pleased to know that so many women "feel on track" with their financial planning, there is still "much work" to be done, says Tracy Marrocco, director of women's marketing for Horsham, Penn.-based Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company.
About 61% of women who identified themselves as "independent" are behind target on building savings and 13% have yet to begin saving at all. Numbers are similar for independent women paying off debt: 53% are behind their target and 14% have not begun to pay down their loans.
"These numbers, especially those representing independent women, are unnerving to read," Marrocco says. "Women must learn to not only recognize their independence and worth, but then take the appropriate steps to maintain it and manage it through all of life's possibilities."
The company's second annual Worth Survey for Women found that women who characterize themselves as independent are more likely than the non-independents to be on track with respect to paying off debt (33% vs. 19% of non-independent women), building up their savings (26% vs. 18%, respectively), and guaranteeing they will maintain or enhance their lifestyle during retirement (26% vs. 17%).
At a time when more women have become the sole breadwinner of their household, a woman's financial decision-making is invaluable, according to the company. Recent statistics show a substantial increase in men's unemployment rate, which climbed to 9.9% compared to a decline in women's unemployment rate at 7.8%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Women who view themselves as independent also look positively at the possibilities of their future and have set goals to meet them. Independent women are significantly more likely than those who do not view themselves as independent to say they are on or ahead of target for being able to save for future travel (29% vs. 18%), and save for a home remodel (20% vs. 10%).
Penn Mutual's Worth initiative (www.WorthForWomen.com) targets what the company believes is the "vastly underserved" women's market. Worth offers educational resources and tools that advocate women to take charge of their financial futures by considering the entirety of their value to home and family. Among these tools is the Worth Calculator, which allows a woman to measure her true economic value, including often-overlooked contributions like childcare, budget management and homemaking.
The annual tracking study was conducted by Penn Mutual during March 2010. The insurer interviewed a nationally representative sample of women ages 25 to 64. The sample included women across a wide income spectrum, women with and without life insurance, and both married and single mothers.