Women & Money: 4 Simple Steps to Ditch Those Nagging Bag Lady Fears

The fear of running out of money in retirement is what fifty-seven percent of women say keeps them up at night, according to the Allianz Women, Money and Power Study.

Almost half of all the women surveyed say they often fear losing all of their money and becoming homeless.

This is NOT financially empowering for women!

What’s interesting is that this “bag lady” fear afflicts high income earners, too (those earning $200,000+), not just low income earners.

According to the 2012 study, Women of Influence is the term used to describe those who generally worry less about their retirement savings, typically because they are working with a financial professional, and have some sort of plan in place that they feel confident about. Yet, forty-six percent of these women cannot shake the fearfulness of the bag lady peril either.

As the study shows, financial companies (headed up and run mostly by men) are finally realizing that the insidiousness of the anxiety women feel because of the threat of this danger is actually valid in light of the fact that retirement age women face financial challenges that men do not.

If these financial companies really want to have a positive impact on the financial lives of women, they need to realize that women relate to money differently than men: for women money is an emotional subject; for men money is transactional.

Addressing the fears and other emotions women struggle with around the topic of money will serve the financial services industry well if they want to acquire the assets women stand to inherit over the next couple of decades.

Meanwhile, women need to step up to the plate and secure their own financial wellness. They need to give up the idea that someone else is going to look out for them. Their financial security is solely their responsibility. Not their husband’s. Not their banker’s. Not their parent’s.

Despite what we women have been socialized to accept, ultimately, no one will care about our financial future more than we do.

Here are my four tips for women who want to take a stand for their financial security in retirement, starting TODAY:

  • Decide what you want retirement to look like for you then take the steps necessary to plan for that. Studies show that when women have a plan (or at least the start of one), fear of the future starts to subside.
  • Plan on outliving your husband or significant other. Also, plan on the worst case scenario in terms of what you will receive from their benefits. (Social Security is already taking steps to reduce benefits such as Spousal, Divorce and Survivor benefits, so you should not count on that.)
  • Financial fear comes from ‘not knowing.’ So, make a plan to increase your financial literacy by reading books about women, money and retirement; subscribing to financial podcasts; and taking classes on how to manage your money.
  • In short, TAKE ACTION! Make it a point to learn something new every week about money and retirement. Start taking steps to create a plan you feel confident about. By this time next year, you’ll be more financially savvy than you’ve ever been. But most importantly, your bag lady fears will be reduced, or better yet, completely eliminated because your financial future will be in your control, not someone else’s.