As the current economic situation continues to take its toll on everyone's pocketbook, Canadian women have more incentive this year to take charge of their financial future. While the recent Rethink Retirement survey by Desjardins Financial Security reveals that half of Canadian women are considering postponing retirement by an average of six years due to market conditions, it also shows that women aren't simply accepting these setbacks. In fact, women are adopting a more take-charge, can-do attitude towards their finances while making the most of what they have.
Debunking the myths about women and money
While more men than women have traditionally been involved in financial matters, the picture is changing: 20 per cent of women admitted having little or no interest in preparing for retirement, compared to 27 per cent of men; 55 per cent said they hate being told that they are not saving enough for retirement, compared to 62 per cent of men; and only 31 per cent said they would rather not know how much they need to save, compared to 37 per cent of men.
"Women may be getting over what you could call the Sex and the City money mentality, where the main characters did not give much thought to saving for a rainy day," said Karrina Dusablon, director, education centre and global management at Desjardins Financial Security. "Budgeting and putting money aside for retirement are hardly sexy plot themes, but many smart and successful women are becoming more financially-savvy, and that's good."
More action, less guilt
Thirty-six per cent of women admit to feeling guilty that they are not saving enough for retirement and 38 per cent believe they will never be able to accumulate enough retirement savings. These two results are likely contributing to why money is still the most often cited source of stress among men and women. However, many Canadian women have said they are prepared to make the following changes to save more for retirement:
- 84 per cent would postpone a major purchase to avoid relying on financing or credit;
- 79 per cent would take less expensive vacations;
- 69 per cent would bring lunch from home rather than eating at a restaurant;
- 66 per cent would significantly reduce the use of their car;
- 61 per cent would reduce spending on sports or cultural activities; and
- 56 per cent would consider getting rid of the household's second car.
The only compromise that six out of ten women seemed reluctant to make in the name of financial improvement was reducing spending on children's activities, compared to 68 per cent of men.
Budgeting seems to be on many women's minds with 28 per cent of respondents mentioning it as their number one financial priority in 2009, while 24 per cent said they would make it a priority five years from now. Paying off the mortgage and other debts were mentioned second as a priority this year among 14 per cent of respondents respectively. Almost 20 per cent of women said they would focus on saving for retirement and 12 per cent on paying off their mortgages five years from now.
"Every new year, women tend to make resolutions about improving their health and wellness," says Dusablon. "We'd suggest that women pay special attention to their financial health by making one simple financial improvement in 2009. For example, always pay for food, including restaurant meals, in cash. Also, if you are already contributing the maximum amount to your RRSP, consider opening a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) with what you have saved as the result of your cost-cutting measures. The best thing about financial fitness is that you get immediate gain with very little pain."
SOM Surveys, Opinion Polls and Marketing conducted the survey on behalf of Desjardins Financial Security between June 26 and August 12, 2008. In total, 2,217 interviews were conducted with a representative sample of Canadian adults. SOM Surveys, Opinion Polls and Marketing conducted another survey on behalf of Desjardins Financial Security between October 21 and 23, 2008. In total, 1,150 interviews were conducted with a representative sample of Canadian adults.
For more information on simple strategies to improve your financial well-being in 2009, visit www.rethinkretirement.ca.
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