SPRINGFIELD, Mass., June 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Recognizing a need for new insights into the changing definition and dynamics of families in this country, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) has introduced the "State of the American Family" program, consisting of a series of research studies conducted over the months and years ahead.
This multiyear initiative will bring a deeper understanding to the different forms families take, how family members interact on matters financial and otherwise, how factors like ethnicity and income affect family dynamics, and trends that will shape families in the coming decade.
The initial research study from this new series, Families, Financial Attitudes & Planning, conducted by Forbes Consulting group for MassMutual, focuses on women and finance.
"This new initiative is an important step forward in understanding family dynamics to better provide America's adults and children with the information and guidance to make responsible financial decisions," said Kelley Gay, an assistant vice president, MassMutual's U.S. Insurance Group.
The first study released under this platform, about women, their families and finance, shows the importance and value of this initiative. "The results of our study show that women, who according to the Boston Consulting Group now control $12 trillion in global consumer spending, recognize the need to get their finances in good order -- whether professionals, executives, mom-preneurs, household CEOs or caregivers," said Gay. "A clear path to the future is often paved with sound financial guidance and action-planning," she continued.
The study shows that one quarter of the women surveyed said they wished they were more in control of their finances, and 34 percent wished they were more confident in making financial decisions.
Thirty-four percent of the women surveyed were overwhelmed by all the information available regarding investments and finances, and only 37 percent said they can make financial decisions with a little guidance. For more information about family finances, visit www.massmutual.com/familyfinances.
To help over-extended and overwhelmed women to start thinking about their financial futures, MassMutual offers the following Five Financial Success Strategies for today's busy women:
Be Honest with Yourself
Families need to take a good, hard look at where they spend money and identify whether each expenditure is motivated by a short-term desire or a long-term goal. Budgets should be adjusted -- or established, if one is not in place now -- and spending patterns altered to reflect a vested interest in their financial future. Try to identify the extra "stuff" that might seem important now, but won't matter much to you down the road. However, be sure to keep some "fun" money in the budget so family members don't feel deprived.
Manage your Money -- and your Debt -- Wisely
The economic uncertainty of the past two years has resulted in many families over-spending on their credit cards and finding themselves paying the minimum balance each month. Consider getting your use of credit under control. It is critical to have a good handle on both your budget and your credit score. Be sure to check out valuable consumer-oriented Web sites, such as "Money Matters" from the Federal Trade Commission. It's an excellent resource for those who are looking to manage their money -- and their debt -- for greater long-term financial security.
Plan for the Unexpected
Over the last year and a half, many Americans began saving more, when they realized that job security was not something they could rely on. Others faced the harsh reality of trying to pay their bills with substantially less income, thanks to a layoff or reduced work schedule. Make sure to have enough money stashed away for a rainy day. Families should consider saving enough money to cover up to six months of expenses, in case of an emergency. It won't take long if a savings plan is adhered to. Start small, if you have to, but start now.
Talk About the Hard Stuff
It is never easy to have difficult conversations about the "what ifs" in life. But the unexpected can -- and unfortunately does -- happen. Whether married, divorced, never-married, with children, childless, caring for aging parents or a disabled loved one, death or disability can be painful subjects to bring up. However, it is important to think about these life events and how they would impact the family, if they were to occur. Preparing for the unexpected is a good decision; it can help protect the lifestyle that only has been achieved with so much hard work.
Start a Family Finances Action Plan
With a to-do list a mile long, families may be struggling to keep everything together. But despite busy schedules, it's important to talk to family members about your finances and concerns. Consider setting aside an hour once a week -- or every other week at the very least -- to talk through current expense issues, financial goals and savings plans. A weekly or bi-weekly checkpoint can be a good way to start a healthy dialogue about the family's financial goals.
To find a financial professional near you go to massmutual.com/secure/locateanoffice.
Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyholders. The company has a long history of financial strength and strong performance, and although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual has paid dividends to eligible participating policyholders every year since the 1860s. With whole life insurance as its foundation, MassMutual provides products to help meet the financial needs of clients, such as life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services, and annuities. In addition, the company's strong and growing network of financial professionals helps clients make good financial decisions for the long-term.
MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts and its major affiliates include: Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; The First Mercantile Trust Company; MassMutual International LLC; MML Investors Services, Inc., member FINRA and SIPC; OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB.