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93% of Women Struggle With Money Stress; Key Strategies For Financial Parity

According to Fidelity Investments, establishing a monthly emergency savings fund can significantly reduce financial stress.
Cover Image Source: Representative Image | Pexels | Photo by Mikhail Nilov
Cover Image Source: Representative Image | Pexels | Photo by Mikhail Nilov

Despite young women being more likely to hold a university degree than young men, according to the OECD, achieving gender pay parity remains elusive in America. In 2021, full-time working women earned 84% of what their male counterparts earned, signaling a persistent wage gap. While progress has been made in narrowing this gap, significant disparities persist.


Women are more likely to avoid their career commitments due to caregiving responsibilities, often resulting in the "motherhood penalty." Consequently, this contributes to a wealth gap that renders women more financially vulnerable compared to men.

A recent report by Fidelity Investments revealed that 93% of women experience stress regarding money matters, regardless of their household income level.

"It’s not uncommon to feel stress when it comes to finances, so we must support women by providing proven ways to help them combat this feeling and build financial confidence," said Sangeeta Moorjani, head of Tax-Exempt Markets for Fidelity Investments.

Stack of Dollar Bills | Karolina Grabowska | Pexels
Image Source: Stack of dollar bills | Photo by Karolina Grabowska | Pexels

The analysis suggests various strategies to achieve gender financial parity, particularly important as many women grapple with financial stress. Taking steps to alleviate this stress can yield positive outcomes.

In a widely shared 2016 article on The Billfold, author Paulette Perhach emphasized the significance of having a security fund. She encouraged women to prioritize building savings that could be accessed even outside of emergency situations, referring to it as the "f--- off fund."

"Whether the system protects you or fails you, you will be able to take care of yourself," Perhach told CNBC.


According to Fidelity Investments, establishing a monthly emergency savings fund can significantly reduce financial stress. The study indicates that 81% of women without any emergency funds experience a considerable amount of stress. However, this stress decreases significantly once they accumulate three months' worth of emergency savings, with only 26% reporting high levels of stress.

Experts recommend maintaining a reserve equivalent to three to six months' worth of expenses, especially for individuals who are the sole earners in their families. Additionally, Fidelity Investments suggests that even small increases in retirement savings can have a significant impact on stress levels. The study highlights that nearly 3-in-5 women (59%) who allocate up to 2% of their household income for retirement experience a fair amount or a lot of stress.

Pile of American paper money on black surface | Pexels | Photo by Karolina Grabowska
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Lorna Kapusta, head of women and engagement at Fidelity, says that creating a budget with three "buckets" can help. The goal is to put around 50% of your income towards essential expenses, another 15% toward retirement, and around 5% toward emergency funds. The remaining 30% provides room for extra spending.

If you are a working woman, it's important to contribute to your 401(k) and also enable auto escalating your contributions to steadily increase the amount with time to combat inflation. 

"Thinking ahead" is the key, as the analysis says, "More than 7-in-10 (73%) women who only think ahead a few days feel a fair amount or a lot of stress. Once women plan for a few months ahead, that number drops down to less than 4-in-10 (38%)."