Survey reveals women’s attitudes and behavior towards money

The economy could be in a continual downward spiral and many Black women are not prepared to comfortably survive, financially, if things got worse. But that wouldn’t stop them from opening their wallets to treat themselves, based on a recent survey

The economy could be in a continual downward spiral, and many Black women are not prepared to comfortably survive, financially, if things got worse. But that wouldn’t stop them from opening their wallets to treat themselves, based on a recent survey from the ING Foundation.

With the United States facing an economic crisis on all levels, including rising food and gas costs and a high unemployment rate, the foundation randomly contacted 1,000 Black women to find out if they are financially geared to stand strong against the tide or has money preparedness slipped on their priority list.

“What we have here is a financial perfect storm. An inclination to spend combined with an extraordinary desire to help others financially has left many Black women behind the curve in terms of savings. The research points to a ‘Preparedness Paradox.’ Black women have high confidence in their ability to achieve their financial goals and consider themselves knowledgeable about investing, yet they are behind where they thought they’d be financially,” said Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation and senior vice president of ING’s Office of Corporate Citizenship & Responsibility.

ING sponsored the telephone survey in partnership with ESSENCE magazine.

From May 1-18, 2008, Black women across the country, ages 18 to their early 60s, who made at least $25,000 per year, were questioned about Black women’s attitudes and behaviors regarding money, saving and investing.

Almost seven in 10 of the Black women surveyed–or 68 percent–say they buy what they want–in good times or bad, and many make unplanned purchases when they are feeling stressed.

Esther Hardy can relate to those women who won’t cut the purse strings, even when the economy looks gloomy.

As a married mother of three and a banking professional, Hardy said she firmly believes in investing. But, in her role as wife/mother, her family is her main priority, and she often finds herself last on the list.

“Once in a while when I see something I love, I must treat myself to it, whether the economy is good or bad. Life is short, and I believe you must treat yourself once in a while!” the 30-something Hardy said.

A Seattle, Wash. native, now a Chicago resident, agrees with Hardy.

“I will gladly admit I am part of the 68 percent. I do buy what I want if I have it to buy in a good or bad economy. I am a work in progress,” said Angela Brooks.

Brooks, who is also in her 30s but is single and has no children, said with age came wisdom. Her money management skills are far better than her younger days and have been a top priority for several years.

“As I have gotten older, the need to save and invest has started taking more precedence. Primarily as the realities of not having a two-income household diminishes every day and the reality that I may have to see this through long term by myself makes me become more diligent in the long-term plan,” she said.

She also added that she hasn’t contributed to the collection plate at church as often as she should.

Mims said oftentimes Black women are pulled in so many directions financially, something or someone has to pay the price.

For many of those women, the thing that suffers most is their financial well-being.

Black women are less likely than other women, 56 percent versus 66 percent, to have a financial plan, the survey revealed.

When asked why, the results stated that 73 percent said they just hadn’t gotten around to it; 55 percent said they didn’t think they had enough money to warrant it; 53 percent didn’t know how to go about it; 51 percent were reluctant to disclose all their financial information and 23 percent didn’t think it was important to have a financial plan.

Mims said single mothers with little- to-no help find it difficult to be the sole provider.

“They want to be committed to the church, devoted to their family and take care of the children and also pay for child care. It’s hard for them to envision the day when they can actually put some money away that will grow,” Mims said.

Carrie Cameron, a 20-year-old single mother of a 1 year old considers herself an anomaly.

She doesn’t know how she does it, but somehow she is able to make ends meet and save money separately for her and her daughter.

“I make barely above minimum wage and I make sure my bills are paid and that I put a little something aside for myself and my baby” said Cameron, a part-time nursing student and full-time restaurant employee.

Cameron, who lives with her mother, said her paycheck allows her to pay her phone bill, keep gas in her car and buy the necessities that she and her daughter need. She is also able to set aside about $25 each month in savings for herself and puts $1 each day in her girl’s piggy bank.

“It’s a start. When I am able to make more, I’ll increase the amounts,” she said.

For women who need to shore up their financial planning, Mims suggests they create a financial plan and never be afraid to ask for help; invest in their company’s retirement plan and join an investment club for women.

Mims also has two words for college students who are inundated with credit card applications.

“Stay away!” Mims cautioned. “Learn how to resist those. Don’t create any bills for yourself.”

Hardy, Brooks and Cameron did not participate in the survey.


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