Women’s Biggest Financial Regrets—and What to Do About Them Right Now
In the not-so-distant past, American women were legally barred from owning their own property. The country's laws surrounding this type of ownership were not amended in favor of women until 1862. It wasn't until 1920 that women earned the right to vote. After that, it took another 54 years before women were given the right to apply for their own credit cards (in 1974).
That women have come a long way is an understatement. Unfortunately, with regard to money, wealth accumulation, investing, and personal finances, there's still a significant amount of ground to cover.
As an eye-opening report from Merrill Lynch titled Women & Financial Wellness makes clear, women still earn far less money than men, accumulate less wealth over the course of their lifetime, and the social taboo surrounding talking about money has contributed to a reality in which 61 percent of women would rather discuss their own death than money. What's more 45 percent of women say they have no financial role model.
Making matters worse, the media has failed women. This even includes women's media, which as the Merrill Lynch report notes, historically has not contributed to "smart and open dialogue about money, lifelong financial planning, and investing questions and needs." Data proves as much. Of 1,594 pages of editorial content in the March 2018 issues of the top 17 women's magazines, there were only five pages covering personal finance, which amounts to less than 1 percent.
Why does any of this matter? Because these factors have a real impact on the financial outcomes and literacy of women. And by extension, it should come as no surprise that women have a number of financial regrets, according to the Merrill Lynch report, which sampled 2,638 women across all geographies and education, income, and asset levels.
Want to guess what the number one financial regret is among women? Not investing more (41 percent of respondents). Here's the problem with that: Investments provide an opportunity for women to develop their wealth in ways that merely earning income does not, says the report. An additional 59 percent of women said they're not doing a good job using investing as a way to pursue their financial goals. Furthermore, a full 60 percent of women still say not having the knowledge to invest is their number one barrier. This is followed by 34 percent of women who say they don't have the confidence to invest.
This is a serious problem, and it's merely one of the financial regrets uncovered by the report. Here's a closer look at the top financial regrets shared by women, according to the Merrill Lynch report and what you can do about them starting right now.