Money Talk

Women, Money, & Relationships

How women engage with money — and what changes with relationship status

A new Equitable study reveals that relationship status influences financial behaviors and mindsets for women. Access the complete report here.

December 06, 2023 09:00 AM Eastern Standard Time–NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Equitable, a leading financial services organization and principal franchise of Equitable Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: EQH), today released a study that shows how changes in relationships can impact financial behaviors and mindsets for women.

The new study, “Women, Money and Relationships,” surveyed more than 1,200 U.S. women to better understand and measure their attitudes and behaviors when engaging with finances. Conducted by an independent research firm for Equitable, the study focuses on a representative cross-section of American women ages 18 to 77, exploring how they manage their finances through the lens of being single, married/partnered, divorced or widowed.

“As someone who has been married, widowed and now newly engaged, I understand firsthand how our relationship status can influence the way we think about finances,” said Connie Weaver, Equitable’s Chief Marketing Officer. “It’s important to understand how — and why — women’s attitudes and behaviors toward their finances change during all life stages. Life changes can be joyful and also challenging. It is critical that women have a plan, feel empowered and take control of their financial well-being.”

Key findings from Equitable’s study include:

  • Different life events drive increased financial engagement — For single women, increases in their income is the number one life event that encourages them to become more involved in their finances. Married women cite becoming more involved gradually over time. Among divorced and widowed women, the end of their marriage and death of their spouse, respectively, are the most common reasons they became more engaged with their finances. Further, more than half of divorced (52%) and widowed (56%) women surveyed express regret for not being more involved in financial decision making before their marital status changed.
  • Women overall wish they had paid more attention to their finances earlier — Regardless of relationship status, the majority of women surveyed regret not paying more attention to financial matters earlier in their life. This sentiment is strongest among divorced (70%) and widowed (67%) women compared to married (64%) and single (63%) women. Compounding this concern, many women also feel less confident about investing and retirement planning after a change in their relationship status. In particular, four in 10 widowed women say they feel less confident handling investing (45%) and retirement planning (43%) decisions following the death of their spouse. Also, three in 10 divorced women say they are less confident about handling investing (32%) and retirement planning (31%) decisions after their marriage ended.
  • Women’s relationship status impacts their financial focus — While having enough money to cover unexpected expenses is a top financial goal across the board, single, divorced and widowed women also list other short-term financial needs, such as being able to pay their monthly bills, among their top financial priorities. In comparison, married women surveyed are most likely to report that their financial focus also includes longer-term priorities such as being able to retire comfortably and having enough money to travel.
  • Changes in relationships impact financial confidence, but often lead to professional support — Married women (42%) are the most confident in their ability to reach their financial goals compared to single (37%), divorced (35%) and widowed (29%) women. However, if a relationship ends, this feeling often changes. The study revealed that more than six in 10 widowed women (61%) feel further away from achieving their financial goals after the death of their spouse. Importantly, a change in relationship status is often a catalyst for women to seek help from a financial professional. One in four divorced women (26%) started working with a financial professional after their marriage ended. Further, 29% of widowed women started working with a financial professional after the loss of their spouse.

Positive Outcomes For Women Working With A Financial Professional

Life changes can be joyful and also challenging. It is critical that women have a plan, feel empowered and take control of their financial well-being...

The study found that women who work with a financial professional, regardless of relationship status, report improvements in their financial well-being. Nearly all women who work with a financial professional are saving for retirement (92%), and almost three in four (72%) have a written financial plan. In contrast, among women not working with a financial professional, only 64% are saving for retirement and a mere 16% have a written financial plan. Additionally, women working with a financial professional are more than twice as likely to feel they are financially secure and saving enough compared to women who do not work with one.

However, despite the benefits of working with a financial professional and regardless of relationship status, only one in five women overall (20%) engage with a financial professional. This provides an opportunity for more women to actively take charge of their financial future and develop a plan by working with a trusted financial professional who can help guide them through all stages of their life.

“Our financial wellness includes much more than our risk tolerance and what is in our savings accounts. It’s the total of all aspects of our lives, including our relationship status,” said Jody D’Agostini, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP, a financial professional with Equitable Advisors. “This study underscores the importance of understanding and leaning into the differences in attitudes and behaviors across varying life events. We want women to feel confident about their financial futures, and that includes preparing for what sometimes might be the unexpected as they navigate their financial journey.”

 

 

 

About the study
The “Women, Money and Relationships” study was commissioned by Equitable and conducted by Zeldis Research Associates from June 2023 – July 2023 among 1,702 respondents. The sample includes 1,202 women from the main sample, 200 from an oversample of divorced and widowed women, and 500 men. Quotas were used to capture responses based on relationship status and across generations representative of the census data for U.S. adults (adult Gen Zs, ages 18-26, 16%; millennials, ages 27-42, 30%; Gen Xers, ages 43-58, 26%; Baby Boomers, ages 59-77, 28%). Additional samples of widows and divorced women were collected and included only in those subgroups (not included in the total). The study, in total, has an error margin of +/-3–6% at the 95% confidence level interval (i.e., 95 out of 100 times that this study is repeated, the scores will fall within +/-3–6%). The sample was sourced from online panels.
About Equitable
Equitable, a principal franchise of Equitable Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: EQH), has been one of America’s leading financial services providers since 1859. With the mission to help clients secure their financial well-being, Equitable provides advice, protection and retirement strategies to individuals, families and small businesses. Equitable has more than 8,000 employees and Equitable Advisors financial professionals and serves 2.8 million clients across the country. Please visit equitable.com for more information.