3 ways for women to boost financial security

Seize the day and your finances by planning and saving.

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Key takeaways

  • No matter how you feel about your finances right now, it's possible to take charge by developing a comprehensive plan for your money.
  • Make it a priority to know what you own and what you owe, and to ensure that your investments are working toward your future.

Single women are taking charge of their finances. A 2017 survey* from Fidelity explored the financial planning and investing habits of single women—including those who have never been married and those who find themselves single after divorce or death of a spouse. Most women in the study (97%) say it’s important to be engaged in the management of their money.

What’s more, many single women like the responsibility, with nearly two-thirds saying they enjoy being responsible for every financial decision. Despite high levels of engagement, single women—and maybe everyone else—may have opportunities to do even better when it comes to managing their money.

Feeling knowledgeable

When it comes to money, the survey found that many people say they are very knowledgeable about some everyday tasks. For instance, about half of single women say they are very knowledgeable about paying off debt and 2 in 5 say they are very knowledgeable about budgeting. But fewer people feel as positive about more advanced topics like investing or creating a financial plan: 1 in 5 single women said they feel very knowledgeable about planning for their financial future, and 1 in 10 said they feel very knowledgeable about investing.

3 key areas of opportunity

Building your money confidence and achieving financial security do require a little work. Planning for the future, saving for emergencies, and making informed money decisions confidently can help you get there.

A financial plan can act as a roadmap to your goals and help you see the holes in your financial situation. Single women were the least likely group to have a financial plan in place, compared to single men, married women, and married men.

Taking the time to put a plan in place can help you make better money choices in the long run: Your plan should cover everything from daily budgeting and paying down debt to saving for the future and protecting what you have. That means looking at short- and long-term goals, and evaluating what it will take to reach them, including saving and how you may want to invest. It may be important to include insurance in your financial plan as well, like short- and long-term disability insurance and life insurance. An estate plan can also be a key part of a financial plan.

Saving for an emergency is critical regardless of gender or marital status. In Fidelity's survey, a majority of women (56%) and men (58%) said they do have an emergency fund that could cover 3–6 months’ expenses.

If you have an emergency fund, congratulations! That's a huge step toward financial security. If you don’t have one in place, consider monitoring your spending to find ways to save a little bit from each paycheck. Think about establishing an automatic transfer from your checking to a savings account each time you get paid. That way your savings can build without any extra thought or effort on your part.

Read Viewpoints on Fidelity.com: How to save for an emergency

Don't underestimate yourself when it comes to investing. More than half of the people surveyed by Fidelity (52%) have a workplace retirement account, and women and men were equally likely to have one. But approximately 1 in 5 women surveyed said they avoid investing for fear of losing money.

Investing can be critical to your long-term financial security. Whether you're investing for retirement in 40 years, or putting a child through college in 10, feeling confident about your investment choices can help you stick with them through volatility.

How to become a confident investor

It may seem as though investing is ridiculously complicated. But you can become a confident investor. There are multiple ways to invest for the future, depending on your goals and style.

The first decision to make is how much responsibility you want to take for your investments. If you don't want to manage investments for any reason, there are options that take most or all of the decisions out of your hands. Products like target-date funds, target-risk funds, or asset allocation funds may make some of the investing decisions easier. Or consider managed accounts if you'd like more help.

If you're interested in managing your own investments, then learning the basics of asset allocation and diversification is the best place to begin. Asset allocation refers to the way you spread your money among stocks, bonds, and short-term investments. Diversification is the potential risk-reduction benefit you get from combining a variety of investments that behave in different ways.

Your asset allocation strategy is usually based on how long you will be investing the money (called your time horizon), how you feel about changes in the value of your investments (known as your risk tolerance), and your financial situation (living paycheck-to-paycheck, sitting pretty, or somewhere in between).

For more suggestions on getting started, read Viewpoints on Fidelity.com: The guide to diversification

Make your future a priority

Whether you're very confident about your choices or want some validation, it can be helpful to reach out to a financial professional or take advantage of free resources like those available on Fidelity's website. You may find out you’re on the right track, or learn about ways to optimize your saving and investing plan.

Putting a financial plan in place, investing appropriately for your situation, and saving for an emergency can be vital to your financial well-being. Everyone can benefit from taking control of their finances and making the choices that will bring them closer to their goals.

Next steps to consider

Get a personalized investment strategy and portfolio.

Explore how to invest your money and get investing ideas to match your goals.

Find out how to put your money to work to reach your goals.

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