BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Women across all age groups and income levels share a seemingly universal challenge – high levels of stress, according to new research from Fidelity Investments®. Two leading culprits: their finances (85%) and efforts to live healthier (65%), defined as managing diet, exercise and sleep habits1. While six out of 10 report feeling highly stressed about both2, analysis shows that implementing a few key fundamentals can be a game changer in reducing stress. Left unaddressed, however, this stress can wreak havoc on overall health and financial wellness, holding women back from living the lives they deserve.
To help women alleviate these stressors, Fidelity and WW (formerly Weight Watchers) teamed up to create a new video series titled, Demand More from Your Money and Health, hosted by CBS This Morning (CTM) anchor, Gayle King, and featuring Mindy Grossman, president and CEO of WW, and Kathleen Murphy, president of personal investing at Fidelity. The series is available on Fidelity.com/DemandMore, and features a candid, personal discussion about the struggles they’ve faced, challenges they’ve overcome and, most importantly, actionable tips for women of all ages to help reduce stress and empower them to take steps to improve their own financial and physical wellness to live happier, healthier, fuller lives.
Three Secrets to Success from Women Who Live Financially Stress Free
Within the series, Murphy calls out the fundamentals followed by women who do not feel stress about their finances:
- Build an emergency fund to cover six months of essential expenses to help protect against the unexpected. While Fidelity research finds that less than half of Americans have an adequate emergency fund, 77% of women without financial stress have this covered3.
- Invest at least 10% of every paycheck toward retirement. And, if possible, Fidelity recommends aiming to save 15%, inclusive of any contributions from an employer.
- Take steps to get help and create a financial plan. 95% of stress-free women have some financial planning in place4.
“Building a financial plan doesn’t mean you have to become an expert in the stock market,” said Murphy. “Think about a financial plan as a step-by-step road map that helps you identify your goals and how you’re going to reach them.
Women should ask themselves what long- and short-term goals they have. For example, buying a home, or funding a child’s college education? Then it’s determining how much you need to save each month and making sure your savings are invested according to when the money is needed and comfort level with stock market fluctuations, to help ensure those goals are reached. There are many online resources to help, or Fidelity financial consultants are available 24/7 to talk to, free of charge.”
Unchecked Financial Stress Can Have a Harsh Impact on Personal Goals, Physical Wellness
Among working women feeling financial stress, one-in-four say they spend more than 10 hours each week worrying about their finances5. More critical than lost time, this stress can lead to feelings of depression (65%) and for many it holds them back from taking steps towards their financial goals (53%)6.
“The combination of stress and the inclination of so many women to put everyone else’s needs before their own has the power to overwhelm and, ultimately, hold women back from making important financial decisions that can impact their futures,” said Murphy. “Our research shows that adopting these key financial building blocks can have a great impact on reducing financial stress and even improving your health.”
Added incentive to start addressing financial stress now: it may help protect from health issues in the future. Today, 70% of working women affected by financial stress also struggle with managing their diet and exercise and are nearly one third more likely to become overweight7.
Success Begets Success: Small, Measured Steps Can Help Reach Health and Money Goals
“Working toward goals with your health isn’t so different from working toward goals with your finances,” said Grossman. “You start by defining your ‘why.’ What is driving you to make a change and invest in yourself? Once you know your purpose, our program aims to help build wholly sustainable habits that you can stick with and will enable you to thrive.”
When making healthy living choices, WW shares the success factors that help their members create a plan and stay on track:
- Break goals into measured steps.
Celebrate the small victories, because they add up.
For example, instead of committing to losing 100 pounds, set a goal to lose 10 pounds. Celebrate the first 10-pound loss and then focus on the next 10. Then 10 more, until you’ve achieved the full 100. Breaking a goal into more manageable increments can turn an overwhelming obstacle into a series of successes, each one inspiring you to keep going.8 Success often begets success, in this case fostering healthy habits for the long term.
- Surround yourself with a community that lends support and encourages a positive mindset that will keep you inspired and progressing toward your goals.
“Community is a powerful tool to help us stay accountable,” said Grossman. “When you share your goals and your journey with others, they share back with you, offering inspiration and support. Whether you take part online or in person, knowing you have a judgement-free network to lean on can make sharing both successes and challenges an empowering motivator.”
87% of Working Women Say They’d Feel More Confident About Their Future if They Were Investing
Once fundaments are in place, including establishing an adequate emergency fund, funding retirement and building a plan, additional steps can help women feel more confident that their savings are working as hard as they do, and that they are as financially prepared as possible for both planned and unplanned life events, which can often amplify stress dramatically.
Today many women thrive as the CFOs of their households, confidently managing day-to-day finances and making large purchases (e.g., buying new homes, cars). But while women continue to show their strength as consistent savers, many still aren’t taking that next step to invest, to take advantage of potential growth to reach their goals faster. Eighty-seven percent of working women say they would feel more confident about their future if they were investing more of their savings. But more than half (52%) of those weighed down by financial stress report it holds them back from getting started.
To highlight this opportunity, consider these hypothetical examples9 for a shorter-term goal, looking at how $5,000, $20,000 and $50,000 might have grown if invested over five years in an average market:
Whether it’s a financial or weight-loss goal, the first step to getting started is often the hardest. Fortunately, there are resources for every life stage and event to help women navigate getting started, building wealth, and ensuring their money is working as hard as they do to reach their goals. Fidelity also offers check lists to help women address life events and make those transitional moments less stressful, including:
- Getting married
- Changing jobs
- Having or adopting a child
- Sending a child to college
- Getting divorced
- Caregiving and aging well
- Navigating the loss of a loved one
- Transitioning into retirement
For more on taking steps to reduce stress and improve financial and physical wellness, tune in to the Demand More of Your Money and Health video series, available at Fidelity.com/DemandMore, where interactive tools, calculators and other resources to help take next steps with planning and investing are also available. Fidelity Viewpoints: 3 Secrets for Women to Conquer Money Stress shares additional tips and resources. For those who want more hands-on help, Fidelity representatives are available at no cost to answer questions 24/7 at 1-800-FIDELITY, or online at Fidelity.com.
About Fidelity Investments
Fidelity’s mission is to inspire better futures and deliver better outcomes for the customers and businesses we serve. With assets under administration of $7.3 trillion, including managed assets of $2.6 trillion as of May 31, 2019, we focus on meeting the unique needs of a diverse set of customers: helping more than 30 million people invest their own life savings, 22,000 businesses manage employee benefit programs, as well as providing more than 13,500 financial advisory firms with investment and technology solutions to invest their own clients’ money. Privately held for more than 70 years, Fidelity employs more than 40,000 associates who are focused on the long-term success of our customers. For more information about Fidelity Investments, visit https://www.fidelity.com/about.
WW – the new Weight Watchers – is a global wellness company and the world's leading commercial weight management program. We inspire millions of people to adopt healthy habits for real life. Through our engaging digital experience and face-to-face group workshops, members follow our livable and sustainable program that encompasses healthy eating, physical activity, and a helpful mindset. With more than five decades of experience in building communities and our deep expertise in behavioral science, we aim to deliver wellness for all. To learn more about the WW approach to healthy living, please visit ww.com. For more information about our global business, visit our corporate website at corporate.ww.com
Fidelity, Fidelity Investments, Fidelity Investments and the pyramid logo are registered service marks of FMR LLC.
CBS News, WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers), and Fidelity Investments are independent entities and are not legally affiliated.
The third party trademarks appearing herein are the property of their respective owners.
Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time, and you may gain or lose money.
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1 Unless otherwise noted, data represents the Fidelity Investments Total Well-Being Research online survey of 5,062 active Fidelity 401(k) and 403(b) women participants from across the United States. The survey was conducted by Greenwald and Associates, an independent third-party research firm, on behalf of Fidelity in September 2017. Certain demographic and behavioral data such as income, savings rates, and guidance interactions are from Fidelity Investments’ recordkeeping system as of December 31, 2018.
5 Engine Group Caravan Survey of 1004 women, 1004 men, 18 years and older, June 6-8, 2019; included data represents women working full or part time.
7 Fidelity Investments Total Well-Being Research, December 2018
8 Glanz K & Bishop D. The role of behavioral science theory in development and implementation of public health interventions. Annual Review of Public Health.
9 Hypothetical amounts are based on past performance. Past performance does not predict future results. The timing of deposits and when you are looking to use the money can impact potential returns as well as which savings or investment options may be right for you. Hypothetical models include the following assumptions:
- The average market return corresponds to the 50th percentile of the returns. The conservative investment mix is based on 20% stocks, 50% bonds, 30% short-term investments. Estimated/average return rates were based on the goal of five years.
- No withdrawals occurred during the five-year time period.
- No fees or taxes were applied.
- The starting amount and systematic contributions were invested in the model allocation in the stated time period.
- Investments in a traditional savings account assumes only FDIC-insured accounts are used.
Visual not shown to scale.
For investing returns, calculations were made by computing the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10-year average annual returns based on monthly historical performance of stocks, bonds and short-term instruments from 1926-2017, obtained from Ibbotson Associates. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Returns include the reinvestment of dividends and other earnings. The assets are rebalanced monthly to the stated asset mix. Any chart is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent actual or implied performance of any investment option. Stocks are represented by the Dow Jones Total Market Index from March 1987 to latest calendar year. From 1926 to February 1987, stocks are represented by the Standard & Poor's 500® Index (S&P 500® Index). The S&P 500® Index is a market capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stocks chosen for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation to represent U.S. equity performance. Bonds are represented by the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index from January 1976 to the latest calendar year. The Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is a market value-weighted index of investment-grade fixed-rate debt issues, including government, corporate, asset-backed, and mortgage-backed securities, with maturities of one year or more. From 1926 to December 1975, bonds are represented by the U.S. Intermediate Government Bond Index, which is an unmanaged index that includes the reinvestment of interest income. Short-term instruments are represented by U.S. Treasury bills, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. The average market return corresponds to the 50th percentile of the returns, the below average market return corresponds to the 25th percentile of the returns, and the significantly below average market return corresponds to the 10th percentile of the returns. Savings returns are calculated using a national average savings account rate from FDIC. Locked rate savings returns are calculated using national average CD rates for 1-, 2- and 5-year CDs from BankRate. CDs are assumed to be purchased once and are not being rolled over upon maturity. When purchasing CDs from within a savings account, all additional monthly contributions into the savings account, as well as continuing savings with the proceeds of a CD after it matures, are assumed to be earning a national average saving account rate from FDIC.