SOURCE: SaveUp, Inc.


March 19, 2013 08:03 ET

Study Finds American Women Need to "Lean In" Financially

Women in America Face Long-Term Financial Insecurity -- Both Wage Inequalities and Financial Behaviors Are Factors

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - March 19, 2013) - SaveUp (, a national online financial rewards program for saving and paying down debt, today announced the findings in its March U.S. Consumer Savings and Debt Report. This month's major findings focus on the disparity between savings and debt balances of women and men -- the average man with a savings type of account has a balance of nearly twice as much as the average woman.

Men carry higher average balances across savings, CDs, 401ks, IRAs, and Taxable Investments, while the only account where women have a higher average balance is in Money Market Accounts.

  Men Women
Avg. 401k $50,632 $39,320
Avg. IRA $8,456 $4,916
Avg. Taxable Investment $72,390 $55,668
Avg. Certificate of Deposit $30,374 $7,459
Avg. Money Market Investment $11,157 $13,225

Men and women differ greatly in their methods to achieve future financial security:

  • Men are planning for the future by simply saving more aggressively for long-term financial stability in retirement. Key indicators display that men are typically securing their future through high yield investments with 28.8% more in 401ks and 72.0% more in IRAs. 
  • Women are making a greater investment in higher education, demonstrated by the higher average student loan balance carried by women with $41,405 in student loans versus $39,104 for men. This is consistent with the increasing number of women who attend higher education institutions* with the goal of increasing earning power in the workforce.

Men and women are demonstrating very different risk tolerance in their financial choices:

  • Men have a substantially higher representation in Taxable Investments, which also gives them long-term market correlated growth benefits that women are missing out on with their more risk-averse concentration in instruments like Money Market Investment accounts.
  • The use of debt by women and men also demonstrates their varying approaches to financial risk. The average debt-bearing American woman has $34,645 in debt versus the average man who has $42,842 in debt. Additionally, men have 32.3% greater car loan debt, a non-asset debt, which reinforces women's more conservative approach to personal finances. (Women's lower non-asset debt loads can be a point of strength to their balance sheets as they mature financially.)

Income Disparity vs. Behavioral Factors:

Increasing savings, improving financial security and preparing for retirement are not simply behavioral matters; the problem is income disparity. Women save less because their wages are lower and have less earning power over their lifetimes. Women's lower absolute amount of retirement fund contributions is primarily driven by income inequality.

According to the American Council on Education, women make between 57 cents and 77 cents (race dependent) for every dollar a man makes. Women are more financially constrained and subsequently have fewer dollars to contribute to savings and investment activities.

"Significant progress in economic equality must be achieved for women to be able to save at the same absolute level as men," says Priya Haji, CEO of SaveUp. "American women are currently in a financially disadvantaged position for savings and asset growth, and are not taking advantage of market earning opportunities to increase savings. While women face a structural disadvantage of income inequality, their conservatism is also putting them at a long term disadvantage for retirement stability especially given their longer lifespans."

Women's Self-Assessment is Hindering Financial Security:

Women will need to make perceptual as well as behavioral changes in order to build greater financial security. They will have to "lean in" and make financial security more of a priority. 

  • In the study, women were asked to self-assess their strength of saving. Women and men were asked which gender they believe is better at saving: 73.2% of women respondents believe they are better at saving. Yet the data suggests that men are in fact better savers and more willing to tolerate higher risk investments in order to secure a more comfortable future with 30.0% more invested in taxable investments than women.
  • Although women are investing in their future through higher education more than ever, their low exposure to high risk, high yield investments proves to be disadvantageous in the long run.
  • Despite their longer projected lifespans, when asked how much they are trying to save for retirement savings, women aimed far lower with a median goal of $200,000 versus men who aimed for $400,000**.

"This shows that women's perceived ability to save may actually hinder them from being as productive as men when it comes to saving for retirement," says Ms. Haji. "The hopeful sign is that with increasing education levels, women's earning power will continue to increase and close the gap."

SaveUp Recommends 5 Tips Women Can Follow to "Lean In" Financially:

1. Negotiate for increased wages at all opportunities
2. Aim higher on the amount of money to save each month
3. Increase exposure to market returns on long term savings
4. Continue to maintain low unsecured debt
5. Continue to invest in higher education and career growth

The SaveUp U.S. Consumer Savings and Debt Report analyzes current savings and debt levels of its user base. This month's report is based on the data of a representative sample of more than 20,000 SaveUp users' savings and debt balances.

About SaveUp
Founded in 2011, San Francisco-based SaveUp is the first free nationwide rewards program that encourages Americans to save money, pay down debt and make positive financial changes. By partnering with major consumer brands and financial institutions, SaveUp gives users the opportunity to win exciting prizes for performing positive financial actions. Individual user information is secure on the site with bank level encryption. Intuit provides the back-end aggregation technology and SaveUp has completed a bank-level security audit.

To get rewarded for your positive financial actions or to partner with SaveUp as a bank or sponsor, please visit us at


  • Non-asset building debt includes loans like credit cards, car loans, lines of credit and other loans.
  • Taxable investments are any investments of which taxes are not deferred, such as mutual funds, stocks, etc.
  • Account balances for each type of account mentioned represents the average account balance for participants in the data set who have that particular financial vehicle. Not all participants in the data set have every type of financial vehicle mentioned.
  • * New York Times, 2012
  • ** Forbes, 2011

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