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Westpac Report on Women's Finances by Generation

03 March 2012

Westpac today released the findings of a national survey  which says more than half Gen Y women are delaying marriage and children until they are financially prepared. 

The survey of 900 Australian women across three generations contained in the Westpac Report on Women’s Finances by Generation has revealed that Gen Ys are more financially focused than previous generations, with Gen X and Baby Boomers showing signs that they wished they had done things differently. 

Westpac Director of Women’s Markets, Larke Riemer, said it is positive to see that so many Gen Y women are conscious of the financial and career implications of having children and getting married.

“It is interesting to see that Gen Y women place such a large emphasis on the monetary side of marriage and starting a family.

“Our report has revealed that 53% of Gen Y women feel to some extent they need to delay starting a family due to financial pressures, compared to Gen X (30%) and the Baby Boomers (15%). Gen Y are financially focused and preparing for the future,” Ms Riemer said. “That said, young women should arm themselves with as much information as possible to make their money work harder for them from day one.”

KEY FINDINGS

Finances ahead of family

•53% of Gen Y women feel to some extent they need to delay starting a family due to financial pressures

Compared to:

oGen X (30%) 

oBaby Boomers (15%)

•Over half of Gen Y women (56%) said that the financial security of their partner is an important factor when deciding to get married

Compared to:

oGen X (40%) 

oBaby Boomers (24%)

•53% of Gen Y women said they would go back to work following the birth of a child to maintain career progression

Compared to:

oGen X 27% 

oBaby Boomers 15%

•36% of Gen Y women would not get married until they had enough money to afford the wedding they want

Compared to

oGen X (14%)

oBaby Boomers (4%).

 

Savvy savers and conscientious career women

•Gen Y are the biggest savers, with 18% of Gen Y saving more than 20% of their income per month

Compared to 

oGen X (8%) 

oBaby Boomers (9%).

•29% of Gen Y’s already own their own home

•58% of Gen Y said they would like to make it to the top in their career

Compared to 

oGen X (34%) 

oBaby Boomers (24%) 

 

Ms Riemer said, “It is important that women feel empowered to make the best financial decisions at each stage in their lives. Our research shows that 49% of Gen Ys seek financial advice from friends and family first, which means they may not take the important step of seeking professional financial advice. In some cases, women may find they don’t need to delay marriage and family for as long as they think, simply by tweaking their financial plans slightly,” said Ms. Riemer.

The report also indicates Gen Y women are placing significant importance on the financial security of their partner. 56% of Gen Y women responded that their partner’s financial security is an important factor when deciding to get married, which was less than Gen X (40%) and significantly less than the Baby Boomers (24%).

“While they are still building their wealth, the research suggests Gen Y women understand they need to be financially prepared before they get married and start families, but the priority they place on the financial security of their partner worries me. They need to know a man is not a financial plan”, said Ms Riemer. 

Interestingly, the results highlighted that Gen Y are the biggest savers, with 35% of Gen Y women saving 11% or more of their take home income compared to 23% of Gen X and 24% of Baby Boomers. Impressively almost one-third of Gen Y’s have already entered the property market. 

In contrast to Gen Y’s focus on finances, over 61% of Gen X said they wish they had started saving earlier for a new home. Interestingly, being able to afford children wasn’t a top of mind concern for Gen X women when they were preparing to have them, with only 26% noting finance as a consideration. However, with over half (50.3%) Gen X respondents revealing they thought they were in a worse position financially than they expected – indicating financial planning is an issue for this generation. This continues to flow onto their concerns about retirement, with 44% of Gen X saying they wished they had done something different with their superannuation.  

“For Gen X I want to reinforce that it is never too late to start getting your finances into better shape by setting realistic financial goals, which can be met. Women just need to arm themselves with as much information as possible to help them to get to where they want to go,” said Ms Riemer. 

Ms Riemer belongs to the Baby Boomer generation and understands her generation’s financial concerns now focus on retirement and guiding their children.

“I find it very interesting that 35% of Baby Boomers are somewhat disappointed with their children’s choice in partner, and furthermore, over 20% were disappointed with their children’s decisions about starting a family. The most important thing to Baby Boomers is to ensure our children are financially independent in order to take up as many opportunities as possible, even if we do wish that giving us grandchildren was more of a priority.” 

Westpac’s top three financial tip’s for Gen Y women:

1.Time is your best friend when it comes to your financial future, start thinking about it now.

2.Put aside at least 10% of your income for long term wealth accumulation. 

3.Invest in your education. 

Westpac’s top three financial tip’s for Gen X women:

1.If you have a mortgage, focus on repaying it. 

2.Get good advice on insurance and estate planning. In particular consider trauma and income protection insurance – only 5% of Australian families are adequately insured. 

3.Know where your super is and consider your long term retirement plan now. 

Westpac’s top three financial tip’s for Baby Boomer women:

1.Make sure you are salary sacrificing and building up your superannuation. 

2.See an adviser about your retirement plan and ensure you have a plan in place. 

3.Focus on transitioning your wealth into super by age 60.

 

These findings come as Westpac celebrates International Women’s Day. For the second year running, Westpac is a major partner with UN Women on International Women's Day.

Survey results sourced from: Westpac Report on Women’s Finances by Generation, February 2012, powered by Coredata.

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2 comments

  • Sarah Riegelhuth

    Sarah Riegelhuth 7 years ago

    Congratulations to Westpac and to Ruby on this important survey. I'm impressed that Gen Y are the biggest savers, however it concerns me that even then, it is only 18% of them who save more than 20% of their income. It's a big goal, however I'd love to see that statistic sit at around 80% of Australians saving approximately 20% of their income.5% of Australian families being appropriately insured is terrible, we have so much work to do in this area.Brilliant survey.

  • Jean Murray

    Jean Murray 7 years ago

    As a baby boomer, I can fully appreciate why their partner's financial security is important to Gen Y women. When we were planning our families, one wage would pay a mortgage and support a family and jobs tended to be fairly permanent. Now it takes two wages to pay a mortgage and pay the bills, and jobs are much more likely to be casual or contract. Women are being responsible, waiting until they can be sure that the baby will have a roof over its head and adequate food and care before they go ahead with family formation. It's harder than it used to be.But women need to be well informed about their fertility when they make such decisions: www.thinkfertility.com.au has some advice on this for women at many stages of life.Dr Jean Murray