Updated July 3, 2013

Survey: Women Spending Statistics

Most Young Women Aren't Saving as Pressures to Spend Persist

Women are not saving for retirement or putting money away for a rainy day, according to a new survey by CreditDonkey.com. 63% of women said that they were not currently saving for retirement, and over 55% said that they had no saving strategy currently in place. Only 52.6% of respondents said that they had more than $500 in savings right now.

The crisis of women not saving enough has been a concern for economists and financial experts for quite some time. In August 2012, an academic paper tracking women's spending habits showed that women tended to spend more money in a recession or economic downturn. Titled "Boosting Beauty in an Economic Decline: Mating, Spending, and the Lipstick Effect," the paper argued that "recessionary cues consistently increased women's desire for products that increase attractiveness in mates," causing what the researchers called the "lipstick effect."

CreditDonkey.com founder Charles Tran says that the results of the academic study are no real surprise. "Because of social pressures to buy cosmetics, handbags, and clothes, women tend to spend more than men on discretionary items. At the same time, they earn less in a society that still has not reached equal pay for equal work."

If women are more likely to spend money to attract a mate in times of economic distress as the authors of the paper suggest, they are not more likely to earn more money at the same time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women earned just 82 percent of what men earned in 2011. With a weekly median salary of $684, women still earned much less than men, who recorded an average wage of $832. However, the study also showed that women with a Bachelor's degree have seen their wages increase by over 30% since 1979, while wages for men with a Bachelor's degree have increased by 16.3 percent over the same time period. This has caused the gap between women's and men's pay to shrink.

"Although things are improving, a mix of social pressures and lower salaries is making it harder for women to save," said Tran. "This is especially true for younger women, who typically earn less than older women."

According to the BLS, women between the ages of 25 and 34 earn a median weekly wage of $662, over 10% less than women aged 45 to 54. Men of the same age range earned only slightly more than women, at $693 per week.

"It seems that income disparity is smaller for younger workers, who generally earn less than older workers, regardless of skills or qualifications," said Tran. "This is making it harder for young people to save money, regardless of gender."

While smaller wages and social pressures to spend weigh on young men and women alike, Tran also says there are less motivations to save money for young people. "Savings accounts earn less than a tenth of a percent, and even CDs don't keep up with inflation. If your money in the bank just gets less and less valuable, what's the point in saving? This is the question young people are struggling with today--whereas previous generations found it much easier to make money from saving and investing."

Mike Foster is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to Mike Foster at mike@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped women make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

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