Women confident managing short-term finances, but less so on long-term strategies, finds New York Life Wealth Watch.

New York Life  |  March 26, 2024


  • As women age, their confidence in their ability to handle financial decisions grows.
  • Half of women say they have made changes to their financial strategy after gaining knowledge of a financial topic.

NEW YORK - The latest findings from New York Life’s Wealth Watch survey provide insights into the existing financial confidence and knowledge gaps between men and women. Confidence is the top emotion that men report feeling toward managing their household finances (45%) while stress is the leading emotion for women (38%). The survey found that women report feeling the most knowledgeable about paying bills, maintaining good credit, and saving for emergencies. However, they report feeling significantly less knowledgeable than their male counterparts about building wealth, creating investment portfolios, understanding protection products like insurance, and legacy planning.

“Financial wellness is a journey, not a destination,” said Jessica Ruggles, Corporate Vice President of Financial Wellness at New York Life. “This is especially true for women’s financial journeys, as we see women making progress in their savings and spending, while facing major societal challenges and unique life events that impact their financial strategies.”

Ruggles noted that women carry a disproportionate burden of the high costs of childcare and elder care, along with the associated debt. “These complicating factors make clear that for women, maintaining confidence around day-to-day financial management – and seeking trusted guidance to grow their knowledge and take action around protecting who and what matters most – are critical. And it’s even more important when it comes to growing investments and building and transferring wealth.”

Married women report managing day-to-day financial responsibilities, while men report managing long-term strategy.

  • Women report confidence in managing day-to-day finances, including paying bills (88%), maintaining good credit (75%) and saving for emergencies (74%), but they feel less knowledgeable with long-term financial topics, including building wealth (49%), managing investments (45%), legacy planning (42%) and annuities (40%).
  • Married men (61%) are more likely to report they are making all or most of the financial decisions within their household, compared to 38% of married women. 
  • Married women (53%) are more likely to report they split the decisions with their partner compared to 32% of married men.
  • Despite married men reporting they are taking on more financial decision-making, both married men and women report spending an average of six hours per week managing household finances.
  • Top financial responsibilities married women primarily handle include:
    • Paying bills (48%)
    • Monthly budgeting (48%)
    • Financial account management (e.g., savings, checking, etc.) (46%)
  • Top financial responsibilities married men primarily handle include:
    • Choosing/maintaining a relationship with a financial advisor (66%)
    • Financial account management (e.g., savings, checking, etc.) (63%)
    • Managing household investments (62%)
    • Managing retirement savings (62%)
    • Purchasing financial products like insurance, annuities, mortgage, etc. (61%)
  • Overall, 4-in-10 married women (43%) wish they had a larger role in making the financial decisions for their household.

Knowledge gap mirrors division of labor for household financial tasks, but education can create confidence needed to develop and execute against long-term financial strategy.

Knowledge of Financial Topics

(Summary: Very & Somewhat Knowledgeable %)



Knowledge Gap (Diff. Female vs. Male %s)

Understanding/filing taxes




Saving for retirement




Building wealth




Building investment portfolio/managing investments




Legacy planning








  • A potential cause of this knowledge gap is that fewer women may have been exposed to or provided with the opportunity to receive formal financial literacy education than men (42% of women vs. 53% of men).
    • Gen Z and Millennial women are more likely to report receiving formal financial literacy education compared to Gen X and Baby Boomer women (53% vs. 34%, respectively).
  • Women report wanting more information, with 8-in-10 women (82%) saying they wish they knew more about at least one financial topic. The top financial topics women wish they had more information on are focused on building wealth and preparing for the future:
    • Building wealth (29%)
    • Saving for emergencies (28%)
    • Saving for retirement (25%)
    • Paying off/managing debt (24%)
    • The leading financial topic Gen Z and Millennial women want to know more about is buying a home (30%)
  • Women show a preference for working with a professional to get financial advice and guidance:
    • When it comes to trusted sources for financial guidance, women are looking towards financial advisors/planners (29%), spouses or partners (25%), financial institutions (e.g., banks or credit unions) (21%), and family/friends (20%) as their top sources.
    • 49% of women agree that they would prefer to get financial advice from a professional.
    • 41% of women agree that they would worry less about their future if they had a professional to help them make financial decisions.

“Although our research shows a perceived knowledge gap, the data shows an encouraging trend,” continued Ruggles. “Financial education for women is evolving – Gen Z and Millennial women report having received formal financial literacy education at much higher rates than Gen X and Baby Boomer women. There’s an increased desire to invest, save and achieve financial freedom, as 82% of women report wanting more financial information that reflects their interests, including buying a home. Financial experiences and confidence vary by age, suggesting the need for women to seek individualized support and guidance from a financial professional.”

Many women find themselves in caregiving roles and face additional financial and emotional strain.

  • On average, caregivers report spending over half of their day caring for their loved ones (which may include preparing meals, providing transportation, coordinating medical appointments, managing finances, etc.).
  • More than a fourth (27%) of caregivers say their personal finances have been impacted because of caregiving and almost half (48%) agree that caregiving responsibilities have put them in a difficult or financially precarious position before (or currently).
    • At the same time, 6-in-10 caregivers (61%) agree that caregiving responsibilities have prompted them to become better at building and adjusting a financial strategy.
  • A third (31%) of employed caregivers report that they often must take off work to care for their loved ones – those who took time off work in the past year to tend to caregiving responsibilities report taking eight days off on average.
    • With employed caregivers reporting an average yearly household income of $84,271.10, this results in an average of $2,593 in lost pay this past year.

“Caregivers, and especially Sandwich Generation caregivers, who find themselves caring for young children and aging loved ones simultaneously, face unique challenges that can significantly impact their financial security along with their personal and professional ambitions,” said Ruggles. “Caregivers report spending over half of their day caring for a loved one. For those balancing careers, personal responsibilities, and caring for young children, it makes sense why women report stress as the leading feeling towards managing their household finances. At the same time, over 6-in-10 caregivers say that caregiving responsibilities have prompted them to become better at building and adjusting a financial strategy. Those learnings from lived experience can work in tandem with support from improved workplace benefits and access to financial guidance to help caregivers both manage financial challenges and find more secure financial footing for themselves and their families.”


Wealth Watch is a recurring survey from New York Life that tracks Americans’ financial goals, progress toward those goals and feelings about their ability to secure their financial futures, identifying key themes and trends that are emerging about topics like retirement planning, the role of protection-oriented solutions and the importance of financial guidance.


This poll was conducted between February 23 – 25, 2024 among a sample of 2,227 Adults. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on gender, age, race, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.


New York Life Insurance Company (www.newyorklife.com), a Fortune 100 company founded in 1845, is the largest mutual life insurance company1 in the United States and one of the largest life insurers in the world. Headquartered in New York City, New York Life’s family of companies offers life insurance, disability income insurance, retirement income, investments, and long-term care insurance. New York Life has the highest financial strength ratings currently awarded to any U.S. life insurer from all four of the major credit rating agencies.2


1 Based on revenue as reported by “Fortune 500 ranked within Industries, Insurance: Life, Health (Mutual),” Fortune magazine, 6/5/2023. For methodology, please see http://fortune.com/fortune500/.

2 Individual independent rating agency commentary as of 11/17/2023: A.M. Best (A++), Fitch (AAA), Moody’s Investors Service (Aaa), Standard & Poor’s (AA+).

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Media contact

Sara Sefcovic
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-4499

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