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BettyConfidential.com’s Economic Survey Results: Full Analysis
How women are drastically affected by the current economy
-April Daniels Hussar
“We know there’s fear out there, but we wanted to dig deep and find out exactly how women are affected when it comes to daily functioning, spending habits, and childcare arrangements – and, of course, find out their biggest fears and concerns,” says April Daniels Hussar, managing editor of BettyConfidential.com.
Just how anxious are women about the economy?
Women are very anxious when it comes to finances and the economy. The vast majority of our respondents – 75% – indicated that on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being “not at all” and 10 being “extreme”), their anxiety about the economy rated a 6 or higher, with 20% choosing 8 and 21% choosing 9. Only 11% chose 4 or below.
What worries women the most?
When asked which worried them MOST (affording groceries and other staples like gas, being able to pay mortgages / rent, affording children’s education / childcare, or making car payments) 25% chose “affording groceries and other staples like gas.” The majority (43%) selected “other,” citing a wide variety of fears, such as: “Losing what took so long to acquire,” job loss, “saving for the future; keeping my husband’s and my businesses,” making credit card payments, and a general fear for the country’s future: “destruction of economy,” “Things getting worse in the country and it affecting me,” “Generally, the state of our country and how we are leaving it for our children.”
“The economy is affecting women daily,” says Daniels Hussar. “It’s about making ends meet today and a fear of what the future holds if things don’t turn around very quickly.”
Where does the anxiety come from?
Our respondents were nearly equally divided when it came to pinpointing the source of their anxiety. 46% of respondents feel they are DIRECTLY affected by the economy; 54% feel their anxiety is caused by what they hear in the media.
“I think the media’s over blowing it, to an extent, and creating a crisis – much like they’ve done for everything over the past few years,” says one respondent.
The Economy and the Presidential Election:
The economy is a major factor for women in deciding whom to vote for in the 2008 presidential election: On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being “not at all” and 5 being “it’s the most important), 45% chose 4 and 30% chose 5.
Several respondents express hope the crisis will clear up with the next president.
How is this anxiety manifesting in women’s daily lives?
50% of respondents report a generalized sense of fear and concern, while 18% report insomnia.
One respondent states: “It has made me hyper aware of the news. I’ve gone to economic websites and blogs to try and learn more about what is really going on and how it all started. I hate feeling stupid, and not having a good answer or knowing what to do to protect myself and my children.”
Another states: “I don’t sleep more than 4 hours a night. I get headaches. I worry that my kids can’t go to college and my doctor now has me on anti-anxiety meds. (Thankfully, they are cheap!)”
What are the practical ramifications of the economic downturn?
Of course, it’s not just about anxiety. The economy is directly impacting women on a day-to-day basis. 44% report the economic downturn is affecting their retirement plans. Also affected:
• Career plans (27%)
• Home owning plans (14%)
• Wedding/honeymoon plans (3%).
And a vast majority of women (83%) reported that their spending habits have been affected. It’s hitting women and their families everywhere, from having to take on second jobs or work more hours:
“We had planned to put this year’s Christmas shopping on a new credit card,” states a respondent. “Instead, my husband is taking on a second job.”
“We are unable to do the ‘fun’ things with our children. Dinner, vacations, etc.,” states another. “I work part time right now, and will most likely have to go back full time.”
… to scrimping on basics:
“There are absolutely no extras anymore. Bills are being paid later and later,” states yet another, “It’s like looking down a dark tunnel and praying there is a light at the end.”
A few women report that their spending habits haven’t changed … “not yet.”
What are women planning to DO about their economic stress, if anything?
At the moment, the majority of women (59%) are cutting back on unnecessary spending. About one-fifth indicated they would either take a second job or go back to work.
• Cut back on luxuries (59%)
• Take a second job (12%)
• Postpone buying a home (10%)
• Go back to work (7%)
• Other: save more, move, cut back on food.
Finances in the household:
While 40% of women say they worry more than their spouses about finances, the rest are divided between feeling their husbands / boyfriends worry more (20%), or that the concern is shared equally (26%).
Women are making the major financial decisions, either alone or with their spouses. Only 15% of respondents leave the financial decision making up to their spouses; and equal number of respondents either make their own financial decisions or share the responsibility equally with their spouses (38% each).
The Wall Street failures:
When asked if the recent bankruptcies of financial institutions like Lehman Brothers have a direct affect on their lives, 57% of respondents said YES.
Of course. What I’ve learned so far indicates that if Lehman Brothers had not failed, we would not be in crisis mode right now. It doesn’t mean that we would not have gotten there eventually, but with a new administration coming into office they might have been able to stave off this mess, but now they are stuck with it.
Yes. I don’t just feel it, I know it. My investments are down across the board.
If you don’t think they don’t, you don’t fully understand the problem.
A small percentage (5%) indicated being unsure, or that they weren’t affected “yet.”
Women’s BIGGEST financial concern:
Respondents were nearly evenly divided between retirement (31%) and “living day to day” (29%).
The Economy and Children:
Childcare: The vast majority of respondents with children stated that the economy is NOT forcing them to change childcare arrangements (85%). However, 12% replied that it is –
“I have eliminated childcare and am concerned about how I can get my oldest to college,” says one mother.”
And the rest expressed worry, answering the question “not yet.”
How is the economy affecting children’s daily lives? 88% of respondents with children indicated that the economy is affecting their children’s daily lives. Answers were varied, but most hinged around spending cutbacks of some sort, from “special treats” and “vacations” to daily expenses like gas.
“It’s trickle-down economics at it’s best,” says one respondent. “When you have to decide whether your kids can participate in activities based on the amount of gas it will consume, that’s twisted and sick.”
Others painted a more concerning picture:
“Since I’ve taken a night job,” writes one mother, “I don’t see my children in the evenings very often any more.”
“We can’t afford to do anything but gas and food,” says another.
22% of respondents who answered this question stated their children’s lives are NOT being affected by the economy.
Irrespective of the downturn in the economy, women are still willing to make small purchases to treat themselves and give themselves a boost. In response to the question, “In this economic downturn, what small purchase most comforts you?” respondents answered:
• Beauty products (18%)
• Manicure/pedicures (18%)
• Chocolate (16%)
• New shoes (10%)
• Lingerie from Victoria’s Secret or Gap Body (3%)
“Other” answers included books and having their hair done. Only 15% said “none.”
I’m clipping coupons, which is something I haven’t done since my children were small. I’m using appliances such as my clothes dryer and dishwasher only about once per week
If things don’t change and improve soon, you could see me on the street with a sign that reads: will make you laugh for food and shelter.
I just feel so angry more than anxious. I makes me so mad that most Americans are doing what they need to do to take care of their families and their everyday life, but because of a few who want more than they can afford and especially our political leaders, we have to pay for their greed.
The whole thing is awful. I am taking up a second job that has nothing to do with my degree because I can’t find a job using my degree since the job market is awful. I have no health insurance and my health is suffering because I can’t take the medications I need to or go to the doctor.
I do not like the idea that our government has to bail out these institutions. I’m not happy that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taking them in the first place. Social engineering has gotten us into this mess by insisting that owning a home is a RIGHT, not a privilege and it sure has not proven to be a responsibility for many. And let’s be realistic here – 95% of people (even those with subprime loans) are making their mortgage payments. The media has stirred up much of this hysteria by over inflating the noise over those foreclosures. They’ve managed to stir up a worldwide problem. Thanks a lot.
It’s hard to tell exactly what is going on, who is responsible, and what is going to happen. I feel uneducated about the whole thing and therefore powerless.
70% of respondents are married; 74% have children.
BettyConfidential.com conducted the survey through an online survey system. The survey ran from 7 a.m. Pacific Time Saturday, September 27, until 7 a.m. Pacific Time Monday, October 6. Responding to the survey was a random sampling of 104 women from across the United States.