Survey Suggests Marital Status Affects Women's Investing Behavior

November 19, 2007 ( - The OppenheimerFunds, Inc. 2007 Women & Investing Survey suggests attitudes about investing differ among marital demographics, and other women could learn a thing or two from widows.

According to an Oppenheimer press release, widowed respondents expressed more confidence when it came to managing their money, with nearly 65% of giving themselves a rating of 8 or better on a scale of 1-10 when asked how good a job they are doing managing their money. This compares with nearly 40% of married/co-habitants and single respondents and 52% of divorced respondents who answered in the same way.

Widowed respondents were also more likely (almost 68%) to list retirement as their primary investment goal than women who are divorced (59%), married/co- habitants (57%), or single (54%). They were also least likely to cite a lack of extra money as the reason they are not currently participating in a retirement savings vehicle or plan, the release said.

While the majority of women overall (58%) agreed that retirement was their primary investment goal, half indicated they do not participate in a retirement plan. When asked why, most (55%) responded that they do have enough extra money to save, nearly 40% said they are not working, and nearly 30% said paying off debt impacted saving for retirement.

However, when asked if they had $1,000 to spare would they use it towards vacation or retirement, over half said they would spend it on a vacation.

When asked how often they think about retirement, only 25% said they think about it often or very often and 30% said they do not think about it at all. Seventy-nine percent of women admitted to a lack of preparation for retirement.

Forty-four percent of respondents said retirement plans will be their primary source of income during retirement, one-third indicated they expect to rely on social security, and 12% on pensions. In addition, an overwhelming majority of women said that health care costs (93%), inflation (82%), social security (82%), and standard of living (80%) would be big concerns for them while they were in retirement.

Women within the second wave of Boomers-ages 43 through 51, within what is considered the “lost generation” and Gen Xers are the most unprepared for retirement, according to the survey. Overall, 79% of women did not feel financially prepared for retirement, the majority of which (52%) were between the ages of 35-54. Among those surveyed who felt they were not very knowledgeable about investing, nearly 50% fell in the 35-54 age range.

“When we ask women what would motivate them to start saving for retirement, year after year, they say if they knew saving just $50 a month over several decades would provide them with more than $500,000,” said Lauren Coulston, Assistant Vice President, Advocacy and Training Manager at OppenheimerFunds, in the release. “Our research shows that women want financial advisors to start discussing retirement planning with them more than 10 years prior to retirement, when in reality, those discussions need to take place much sooner.”

Other survey findings included:

  • When asked which source of information they relied on for investing advice, widows accounted for the highest percentage (40.5%), that relied on a financial adviser followed by divorced (17.3%), married/co- habitants (16.7%), and single (11%). Widows were the least likely group to rely on no source of investment information.
  • Married and co-habitants are equally as likely to rely on co-workers, friends and relatives for investment advice as they are their spouse or a financial professional.
  • Most women surveyed (73%) do not work with a financial adviser and the number one stated reason (71%) is that they do not think they have enough money, while 8% said they invest on their own.
  • Half of women surveyed said they do not plan to purchase long-term care insurance in retirement, yet 93% of women are concerned about health care costs in retirement.
  • 40% of respondents said they never rebalance their retirement plan portfolio.