Women are Affected by Economy; Find Solace in Beauty

Anxiety, insomnia, fear … women are being drastically affected by the economic downturn, both in their spending habits and their psychological well-being, according to a survey by BettyConfidential.com. In the survey of more than 100 women, 75% of respondents indicated that on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being “not at all” and 10 being “extreme”), their anxiety about the economy rated a 6 or higher, with 20% choosing 8 and 21% choosing 9.

Regardless of the downturn in the economy, women are still willing to make small purchases to treat themselves and give themselves a boost. In response to the question, “In this economic downturn, what small purchase most comforts you?” respondents answered:

  • Beauty products (18%)
  • Manicure/pedicures (18%)
  • Chocolate (16%)
  • New shoes (10%)
  • Lingerie from Victoria’s Secret or Gap Body (3%)

“Other” answers included books and having their hair done. Only 15% said “none.”

What worries women the most? In a nutshell … everything. Answers ran the gamut from affording groceries and other staples like gas (25%) to a wide variety of fears, such as: job loss, making credit card payments, and a general fear for the country’s future.

Not surprisingly, the economy is a major factor for women in deciding whom to vote for in the 2008 presidential election: On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being “not at all” and 5 being “it’s the most important), 45% chose 4 and 30% chose 5. Several respondents express hope that the crisis will clear up with the next president.

What was women’s biggest financial concern? Respondents were nearly evenly divided between retirement (31%) and “living day to day” (29%).

The survey finds that the media plays a significant role in the anxiety felt by women. 46% of respondents feel they are directly affected by the economy and 54% feel their anxiety is more likely caused by what they hear in the media “I think the media's over blowing it, to an extent, and creating a crisis - much like they've done for everything over the past few years,” says one respondent.

The economic crisis is seriously affecting women on an emotional level. Half of respondents report a generalized sense of fear and concern, while another 18% report insomnia. One respondent states: “It has made me hyper aware of the news. I've gone to economic Web sites and blogs to try and learn more about what is really going on and how it all started. I hate feeling stupid, and not having a good answer or knowing what to do to protect myself and my children.”

Of course, it’s not just about anxiety. The economy is directly impacting women on a day-to-day basis. 44% report the economic downturn is affecting their retirement plans. Other life items affected include:

  • Career plans (27%)
  • Home-owning plans (14%)
  • Wedding/honeymoon plans (3%).

And a vast majority of women (83%) reported that their spending habits have been affected. It’s hitting women and their families everywhere, from having to take on second jobs or work more hours, to scrimping on basics.

What are women planning to do about their economic stress, if anything? At the moment, the majority of women (59%) are cutting back on unnecessary spending. About one-fifth indicated they would either take a second job or go back to work. Cuts also include:

  • Cut back on luxuries (59%)
  • Take a second job (12%)
  • Postpone buying a home (10%)
  • Go back to work (7%)
  • Other, including “save more”, “move”, and “cut back on food”.

Clearly, doing nothing is not an option for most women.

40% of women say they worry more than their spouses about finances. Also, women are making their own major financial decisions, either alone (38%) or in equal partnership with their spouses (also 38%).

When asked if the recent bankruptcies of financial institutions like Lehman Brothers have a direct effect on their lives, 57% of respondents say yes. “If you don't think they don't, you don't fully understand the problem,” says one respondant.

Although most respondents with children stated the economy is not forcing them to change childcare arrangements (85%), 12% replied that it has and the rest expressed worry, answering the question “not yet.” 88% of respondents with children indicated that the economy is affecting their children’s daily lives. Specifics were varied, but most hinged around spending cutbacks of some sort, from “special treats” and “vacations” to daily living expenses, such as gas.

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