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Is COVID-19 Leading To More Emphasis On Financial Wellness?

By Julie Jason, originally posted on Forbes.com:

Could a positive financial trend be emerging as a result of the pandemic? Could it be that women are stepping forward more to lead family financial decisions? 

A new study (“The Pandemic’s Impact on Women”) released last week by Fidelity brought this statistic to light: The majority of women surveyed (67%) said they are now more engaged in managing their money since the onset of the pandemic.

A Higher Priority

That’s interesting to me personally, as it is consistent with what I’m seeing in my practice and in my interaction with members of the public. 

I’m seeing women, married and single, saying “yes” when offered reviews of investment goals and living expenses, and to integrating tax and estate planning with investment planning. In more “normal” times, the incentive to do this type of work (it takes some effort) was usually triggered by a life change, such as a divorce or the incapacity or death of a spouse. I suppose what I’m seeing now is COVID-19 could be pushing people to re-prioritize — family finances may be rising to a higher priority. 

Catalyst For Change

Fidelity’s study suggests that much: The pandemic may be a “catalyst” for women being “more actively engaged in their finances.” 

“Where women were already building good planning and savings habits, many say they have amplified those efforts in the last six months to shore up finances for the future. In addition, more women are also taking steps to better educate themselves (36%) and become more comfortable talking about money (35%),” Fidelity found.

I believe that gender doesn’t enter into investment management decisions. However, life does. The contours of home life, work life and family relationships are changing. With that evolution comes a recognition that more is needed to protect and provide for the family. 

Indeed, as the study points out, in these difficult times, Americans are being challenged in “unprecedented ways, driving many women in particular to reevaluate how they manage work and home responsibilities.” 

‘Amplified’ Efforts

What are women doing now that they didn’t do before? The survey found that women “amplified” savings efforts and cut back on discretionary expenses; they took steps to “better educate themselves (36%)” and have become “more comfortable talking about money (35%).” In addition, 44% followed detailed budgets; 43% created or updated a financial plan; and 40% built up emergency savings.

Viewing these developments solely from the point of view of a financial literacy proponent, at least we have something to be thankful for during these uncertain times.  

FINRA Can Help

If you would like some help getting started on personal finance, I recommend FINRA resources. FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the regulator of the financial services industry. 

Check out FINRA Smart Investing, which gives details on various subjects related to investing, and FINRA Personal Finance. Among the categories are net worth and spending, both of which provide worksheets.

To read Julie Jason's books, go to: https://juliejason.com/books/julies-books.