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Women more cautious with finances, study finds

Monday, June 25, 2012  
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Women are more likely than men to feel their financial planning needs improvement, according to a recent study by Northwestern Mutual.

The insurance company found women are more likely to consider themselves "informal planners” (41 percent of women surveyed vs. 35 percent of men) and believe they need to better plan their finances (63 percent of women vs. 54 percent of men).

What’s more, despite having longer life spans than men, women feel less financially prepared to reach age 75 (48 percent vs. 65 percent), 85 (37 percent vs. 55 percent) and 95 (30 percent vs. 43 percent).

While women are more likely to feel their planning needs improvement, they're approaching their finances more cautiously than men, the study found. Far and away, for both men and women, the most preferred approach to saving and investing is "slow and steady wins the race" (36 percent). Yet women are more likely to have a strong preference for safe but lower returns with very low risk, over high returns with high risk (44 percent vs. 35 percent).

Moreover, among Americans taking steps to become more financially secure in 2012, women are more likely to make "building up an emergency fund” a financial priority (61 percent) as compared to men (54 percent).

In other findings of the study, Northwestern Mutual found the majority of Americans are taking steps to pay down their debt (62 percent), develop a budget (61 percent), save a portion of their paycheck regularly (58 percent) and build up an emergency fund (58 percent).

The study is based on an online survey of 1,015 Americans aged 25 or older between Feb. 2 and Feb. 13, 2012 via a systematic random sample of U.S. adults.

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