Spending Money They Don’t Really Have

If you think of men as nature’s deadbeats, note that many American women are also awash in debt. In a Meredith Corp./NBC Universal poll, 22 percent of women reported owing more than $20,000, quite apart from mortgage debt.

Just 31 percent of women said they always pay their full credit-card balances, which helps explain why 26 percent “dread the arrival of their credit-card bills every month.” Gen X women are in especially deep: 30 percent of them have more than $20,000 in non-mortgage debt; 72 percent are carrying credit-card debt, and 36 percent said it “prevents me from saving for the future.” Little wonder that 35 percent of Gen X women dread the arrival of their credit-card bills.

Though the issue of taxes has lost some of its political punch, the findings indicate it remains a serious concern for women: 72 percent said they’re concerned about “rising taxes.” Among boomer women, 81 percent said so.

Another poll, by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, looked at how married and unmarried women differ in their finances. The most basic disparity is that unmarried women are significantly less prosperous, on average. Forty-nine percent of them reported household income under $30,000, compared to 15 percent of marrieds.

While lots of married women “often do not have the money to make ends meet,” the figure was higher among unmarrieds (55 percent vs. 42 percent). The poll also asked respondents to say which of various factors are among their chief economic worries. The cost of gas and energy topped the list for both cohorts, though married women were more likely than unmarrieds to cite it (49 percent vs. 36 percent).