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Women Voice Greater Concerns than Men on Cost of Living and Inflation: BMO Survey

March 6, 2024 | Customers

A special report from the BMO Real Financial Progress Index focusing on women and financial confidence found numerous disparities between the sexes, particularly around two key economic indicators: cost of living and inflation.  

Over the past three months, cost of living concerns increased for women, with 61 per cent expressing concern compared to 54 percent of men, alongside inflation concerns where 59 percent of women voiced concern compared to 52 percent of men. 

The index examines how American consumers are navigating current economic conditions and how they are affecting their approach to financial planning and achieving financial progress.  

BMO’s research finds evident gaps between women and men: 

  • Cost of Living and Expenses:  
    • In addition to women feeling more concerned about inflation and cost of living over the past three months than men, women are also more likely than men to identify certain expenses as barriers to making real financial progress, specifically family-related expenses (24 percent vs. 21 percent of men) and monthly bills (38 percent vs. 30 per cent).  
    • Two thirds (67 percent) of women say keeping up with monthly bills causes at least some degree of financial anxiety compared to 60 percent of men. 

  • Overall Financial Security: 
    • 44 percent of women say concerns about their financial situation have increased over the last three months compared to 35 percent of men. 
    • 71 percent of men say they have enough money to get themselves through an emergency compared to 57 percent of women. 

  • Financial Progress Evaluation: 
    • Women are 12 percent less likely than men to say they are making real financial progress (49 percent of men compared to 37 percent of women). 
    • 82 percent of men say they feel in control of their finances compared to 71 percent of women. 

Additionally, the BMO Real Financial Progress Index finds that more women than men say they share financial responsibilities with their partners, such as setting financial goals for the family (68 percent of women compared to 57 percent of men) and managing day-to-day finances like paying bills (50 percent of women compared to 44 percent of men).

“Despite women making recent strides in pay, education and in the workplace, these findings underscore ongoing challenges they face in achieving financial security and long-term wealth. BMO’s commitment to supporting women at every step of their financial and personal journey is grounded in our Purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life. Empowering all women – especially from a young age – to take charge of their financial futures is not just beneficial, it’s imperative. Seeking support from financial experts can pave the way for navigating the complexities of money management and put you on a path to securing financial well-being.”

– Tina DeGustino
Consumer strategy expert, and Regional President at BMO

Financial literacy gap remains, but shows significant signs of improvement 

While more men say their families supported financial literacy by having conversations about budgeting, saving or financial planning (48 percent of men compared to 42 percent of women), the data highlights a striking difference in financial education between younger and older women: 

  • 66 percent of younger Gen Z women ages 18 to 24 say their families supported financial literacy compared to 31 percent of women 65 years of age or older and 44 percent of women ages 25 to 34. 
  • Younger Gen Z women also say they learned more about financial literacy growing up compared to male counterparts (66 percent compared to 60 percent of men). 

BMO helps women make real financial progress 

In addition to creating a budget and sticking to it, BMO offers the following tips to help Americans make real financial progress and navigate rising costs of living: 

  • Build a budget and review spending and financial statements at least once a month. 
  • Look for recurring “hidden” expenses, such as forgotten subscriptions, and cancel those you don’t use or need. 
  • For parents, compare various childcare options in your area and sign up for a Dependent Care Flexible Spend Account (DCFSA) if possible. 
  • Regularly meet with your banker or financial advisor to make sure your savings and payment patterns are on track to reach both near- and long-term goals. 
  • Set up a savings goal and recurring savings transfers into an account – no matter the amount – which will provide a sense of progress and motivation to achieve your savings goals. 
  • Remember to take time for affordable self-care, such as exercise, yoga, reading, or playing a game with the family.  

To find out how BMO helps customers make financial progress, visit:  

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