By Amanda Morrall
New Zealand women rule the roost when it comes to domestic finances, but at what price?
According to a survey released today by Westpac more gals than guys worry about money (21% vs 14%), but they feel more financially vulnerable (44% vs 35%), they save less for themselves (27% vs 27%) and they don't have a clue about how much money they'll need to survive in retirement (45% vs 38%).
Westpac's Gai McGrath said the headline findings are concerning particularly for younger Kiwi women who are living and thinking too much "in the now" and then unconsciously ceding control of important financial decision to their partners later in life.
"Many women clearly have good financial skills, but our survey indicates that they may not be applying them to long-term goals to help themselves,'' said McGrath, general manager of retail banking.
She said that was reflected in the fact that more than one-third of women surveyed said they had not given any thought to what age they'd like to retire, nearly half had no idea how much money they would need to have saved for retirement and 40% were banking on NZ Superannuation (at $300 a week) to live off.
How much will you need? Check out interest.co.nz' retirement and KiwiSaver calculators here.
Divorce, income inequality
While the survey also found a high number of men sharing the same financial concerns and admitting to a lack of preparedness the higher numbers for women were especially concerning said McGrath. That's because financial vulnerabilities for women are compounded by income inequality, women leaving the workforce to raise children, divorce rates and other unexpected life events that can have major financial impacts.
McGrath said the findings should serve as a wake-up call particularly for young women at risk of mismanaging their money when they could be taking advantage of their youth to make gains on compound interest. Women raising families were also a group at risk despite their strength at managing household finances.
The survey also found that twice as many women as men control household budgets - 36% compared to 18% of men, and four times as many women than men control the household spending.
While their strengths on the domestic front should be applauded McGrath said women risked short-changing themselves over the long haul because of their failure to think about or plan for contingency plans including divorce, job redundancies or premature death.
"They're caught up in the here and the now and their prioritising their family and their family's needs but at the same time it should also be important to them to think about their own financial future. So it's a question of making some time. We know how time stretched women in these situations are. They take over the brunt of the domestic duties, looking after children, often they're in full time paid work. When do they make the time?
"It's a question of saying how can you find that short window of opportunity.''
McGrath said Westpac, as a result of the survey, would be looking at ways to help women manage their money better or make them more aware of long-term financial decisions and planning.