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Women Say They’re Less Confident With Money… But Maybe That’s Okay

Kathryn Tuggle  |  March 26, 2024

Women are less confident with money, yet consistently find more success when investing. So, what’s really going on here?

Are you confident with money? According to The 2023 State of Women survey from HerMoney Media and Principal Financial Group®, just 45% of women say they feel confident about money management — compared to 58% of men who say the same. Additionally, just 22% of women consider themselves knowledgeable about investing compared to 46% of men. 

These numbers are disheartening, yes. But they don’t tell the whole story. For starters, men almost always report greater levels of confidence than women when it comes to finances and career. For example, men report feeling better equipped to weather a recession than women do, and are also more confident salary negotiators than women. 

But here’s the thing: That lack of confidence does not translate to a lack of competence. Studies have shown that women are not only more effective negotiators than men, we’re also more likely to make smarter moves with money during an economic downturn. And, when investing, women achieve higher returns than men do

Is it a problem women don’t feel as confident as we should? Or if we do, we’re too humble to talk about it? Maybe not. As Taylor Swift might say, having to scale the bars that men set for reveling in our accomplishments (then shouting them to the world) is nothing so much as exhausting. Instead, let’s grow into our financial confidence while simultaneously embracing our humility for exactly what it is — a superpower. 

Build Confidence By Making Time 

Whether we’re learning a new hobby or taking on a new responsibility at work, we often feel the pressure to achieve “expert” status from the jump. That turns to quickly getting down on ourselves when we don’t immediately have something Insta-worthy to show off. Unfortunately, the same thing can happen with our money. 

“There needs to be a recognition that building our financial wellbeing and understanding of investments is a lifelong journey,” explains Teresa Hassara, senior vice president of Workplace Savings and Retirement Solutions at Principal®. “You don’t have to learn it all at once; it happens little-by-little.” 

In other words, our financial skills (and the confidence we have in those skills) simply isn’t going to materialize overnight. It’s going to take time. 

One problem: finding that time.

“So many women are really scheduled –  trying to balance their home life, their social life, and their work life,” Hassara says. “The key is creating bite-sized chunks of time to learn more about something that’s important to you. Try to carve out 20 to 30 minutes each week to engage with your finances, and see it as you time — not as an obligation or responsibility to anyone else.” 

Ask For Help When You Need it 

We all want to be able to step back from our money and say “I’m doing good,” but this is difficult if we don’t have a sounding board, explains Sara Zuckerman, certified financial planner and owner at Reset Financial Planning. Effective financial sounding boards come in all shapes and sizes. Yes, we have trusted family and friends, but when we really want to dig deep into big goals like preparing for retirement, it’s time to bring in the experts. Knowing whether you’re on track or not matters so much more than having a number in your head and thinking, ‘I need $1 million.’ What actually matters is having projections tailored to your specific goals,” Zuckerman explains. 

Make no mistake: Asking for help in this way is not a shortcoming. Nor does it display a lack of confidence. In fact, it’s the opposite. Asking for what you need — and then making sure you get it — is a sign of strength.  

To get the answers you need, start by checking in with your employer-provided financial wellness program, if you have one. (And if you don’t, let your HR department know this is a benefit you need!) Financial wellness programs often provide point-in-time advice for people’s financial milestones — and ongoing support that gives people the momentum they need to keep going on the right path. 

“There are decision points in life when we could use a financial coach, guide, or mentor to help us understand our options, and the pros and cons of those options,” Hassara says. “In the moments that really matter, people want a partner who can say ‘This is the best option for you, and here’s why.’” 

Additionally, certified financial planners and financial therapists can help you work through any blocks that you may have (either knowingly or unknowingly) in your relationship with money, Zuckerman says. “If you’re still not feeling confident even after taking steps to get informed, there may be some negative underlying money story in your head. An expert can help you work through why you may be timid with money, and help you develop a plan that will work for you.” 

Use Humility As A Superpower 

While we never want to see women worried unnecessarily or not giving themselves credit where it’s due, a little bit of doubt can go a long way toward inspiring good financial decisions. 

“Humility can drive us to learn more,” Hassara says. “For most investors, overconfidence and quick reactions are not their friend. When you’re able to play the long game and you’re seeking to understand the market, that’s an advantage.” 

Indeed, The 2023 State of Women survey also revealed the majority of women (55%) would choose to hold their investments in an economic downturn as compared to 40% of men, and we know that trading less frequently while riding out market swings is an approach that can pay off in a major way. In fact, just missing the 10 best days in the market from January 2003 to December 2022 — seven of which occurred during bear markets — would have cut your returns in half

When you’re under-confident, you’re more likely to ask questions, and asking questions slows down your decision-making — in a good way. 

“Having a healthy skepticism of your own limits inspires people to delay action until they’ve made a healthy analysis. And this can prevent some really, really big mistakes,” Zuckerman says. “You’re less likely to work with someone who is just trying to sell you a shiny new product, or to implement a financial strategy that you caught in a snippet of on social media,” Zuckerman says. “The single best thing we can do for our money is to take time to understand the reason behind things.” 

Get more ideas on how you can build financial confidence at

This story was sponsored by Principal Financial Group®

About Principal Financial Group®

Principal Financial Group® is a global financial company focused on improving the wealth and well-being of people and businesses. In business for more than 140 years, Principal® helps customers plan, protect, invest, and retire, while working to support the communities where they do business, and build a diverse, inclusive workforce. Learn more about Principal at


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