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How Women are Drastically Affected by the Current Economy

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RISMEDIA, Oct. 10, 2008-Anxiety, insomnia, fear-women are being drastically affected by the economic downturn both in their spending habits and their psychological well being, according to a survey by BettyConfidential.com. In the survey of more than 100 women, 75% of respondents 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 six or higher, with 2o% choosing eight and 21% choosing nine.”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.

What worries women most? In a nutshell-everything. Answers ran the gamut from affording groceries and other staples like gas (25%)to a wide variety of fears, such as: Losing what took so long to acquire,” job loss, “keeping my husband’s and my businesses,” making credit card payments, and a general fear for the country’s future, such as the “destruction of economy,” “things getting worse in the country and it affecting me,” and “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.”

Women, the economy and the Presidential election

Not surprisingly, 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 that the crisis will clear up with the next president.

Women’s biggest financial concern

“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.”

Respondents were nearly evenly divided between retirement (31%) and “living day to day” (29%).

The Source of Anxiety

BettyConfidential.com found that the media plays a significant role in the anxiety felt by women:

- 46% of respondents feel they are directly affected by the economy
- 54% feel their anxiety is rather 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.

How is this anxiety manifesting in women’s daily lives?

BettyConfidential.com found that the economic crisis is seriously affecting women on an emotional level. Half of respondents report a generalized sense of fear and concern, while another 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 four 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.

Other results:

- Cut back on luxuries (59%)
- Take a second job (12%)
- Postpone buying a home (10%)
- Go back to work (7%)

Other, including “save more”, “move”, and “cut back on food.” Clearly, doing nothing is not an option for most women.

Finances in the household

40% of women say they worry more than their spouses about finances. Also, women are making their own major financial decisions, either alone (38%) or in equal partnership with their spouses (also 38%).

The Wall Street failures

When asked if the recent bankruptcies of financial institutions like Lehman Brothers have a direct effect on their lives, 57% of respondents say yes.

“Of course,” states one respondent. “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.”

States another: “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,” says yet another.

The economy and children

While most respondents with children stated the economy is not forcing them to change childcare arrangements (85%), 12% replied that it is.

“I have eliminated childcare and am concerned about how I can get my oldest to college,” states one mother.

And the rest expressed worry, answering the question “not yet.” 88% of respondents with children indicated that the economy is affecting their children’s daily lives. Specifics were varied, but most hinged around spending cutbacks of some sort, from “special treats” and “vacations” to daily living expenses like gas.

“It’s trickle-down economics at its 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,” states one mother, “I don’t see my children in the evenings very often any more.”

“We can’t afford anything but gas and food,” says another.

Small luxuries

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.”

Survey Specifics / Methodology

BettyConfidential.com conducted the survey through an online survey system. The survey ran from 7 a.m. Pacific Coast Time Saturday, September 27, until 7 a.m. Pacific Coast Time Monday, October 6. Responding to the survey was a random sampling of 104 women from across the United States.

For more information, visit www.BettyConfidential.com.

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