Money is a topic that many women shy away from in day-to-day conversation, especially when it comes to discussing the fears and anxieties around finances. Like spiders and heights, money can send shivers down even the strongest spines. For many women, money fears can be incredibly daunting. From being unable to save enough for retirement to insecurities over earning potential — it can feel like standing on the edge of a cliff with no safety net below.

Being constantly bombarded with messages about the gender pay gap, rising living costs, and increasing debt levels, it’s no surprise that financial fears are at an all-time high for women. Juggling multiple jobs or side hustles, trying to make ends meet while also trying to save for the future, it can be overwhelming and feel like you’re trying to balance a stack of plates that keeps getting higher and higher, scared they’ll all come crashing down at any moment.

As the stories below showcase, women’s biggest fears about money are shaped by their access to it, their support network, their marital status, their educational background, and a variety of other intricate factors that connect to form their overall money mindset. But more than that, these stories from real women highlight just how common money fears can be and what can be done to overcome them.

Money fears for women are a lifelong concern

Everyone comes from different backgrounds with different experiences. While some women may grow up wanting for nothing, others worry about money from very early on in life. These world views not only color a woman’s outlook concerning their career and financial successes but also on their financial concerns.

“Growing up with very little forced me to become financially disciplined,” Maria, founder of Missmv lifestyle blog tells Credello. “Now that I am financially independent, I still live in fear that I might get ill, or struggle financially when I get older.”

Maria’s concern is common. It’s why so many women work how they do to prepare for their future. Women are behind men in retirement savings, and with a longer lifespan, the amount of money a woman needs to save to retire comfortably is considerably higher than men. Women have a life expectancy that’s nearly six years longer on average than men, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but women contribute approximately 30% less to their retirement savings, according to a 2022 Goldman Sachs Retirement Survey & Insights Report.

Paying down debt to put more money away for the future is just one way that women can work toward saving more money for the future.

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The economy, inflation, and the state of student loans drive women’s money fears

Though not news to most, rising costs due to inflation and general economic instability put even more pressure on women where financial anxieties are concerned. Maria notes that part of her fear “comes from the [economic] uncertainty we experience right now and inflation.”

Dielle Charon was once afraid that she would never be able to pay her debt or her student loans because her pay as a social worker barely covered her needs. To overcome this, she decided to take matters into her own hands, working after hours to build and scale her own coaching business.

“It was a lot of hard work and risk, and I remember when I finally saved six months worth of business and personal expenses so that I could quit my job and take a risk,” she recalls.

Now, Charon is on a mission to help other women of color experience the freedom and liberation that comes with taking control of their financial destinies. What was once a side hustle to help ends meet is now a wildly successful coaching business, complete with a podcast and two sales programs. By overcoming her own money fears, Charon now inspires and teaches other women to do the same.

“It felt empowering to know I chose to step into this identity and become this coach,” Charon says. “I was able to see these women’s lives changed as well. I now am proud every day. I’m proud of our community of women of color where we support each other in this journey. I’m proud of my clients success. I’m proud of the non profit I’ve created. I’m proud of the way known my own home. It’s empowering to create the business you have dreamed of.”

Motherhood and money fears can go hand-in-hand

Unfortunately, money worries don’t always go away when a woman experiences business success. Though the financial benefit of landing a 6-figure role, getting a big promotion, or even founding a business that flourishes can alleviate some fiscal concerns, some women still shoulder big money fears — and many of them are intimately connected with their family life.

Founder of the online fabric store, Good Fabric, Polina is a mom and business owner whose money fears are interwoven with familial stress. “I worry that I will always financially depend on my other half,” she explains.

Though Polina notes “how lovely and supportive he is,” her fears of dependence are rooted in her role as a mother. “I run my own business as well as look after our child,” she explains. “I physically cannot do it all and be everywhere, so my financial growth as a woman is significantly slower.”

It’s no secret that the gender pay gap is a pressing money concern for women. Women only earn 82 cents for every dollar men earn, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. While that statistic may lead some women to branch out and make their own way financially as a business owner, even when they run successful companies, the worry and stress that working moms face are ever-present.

Mona Andrei is the author of Super Woman: A Funny and Reflective Look at Single Motherhood and host of the Single Moms with Moxie podcast. “As a single mother, money has been an issue for most of my life,” she explains, adding that guilt and glorification of struggle may have intensified her particular money fears.

“Recently, I came to a big realization and everything changed for me,” Andrei says. “My big realization concerning my finances was that I do deserve more. And on a deeper level, I realized that struggling financially does not make me a better person, nor am I taking anything away from someone else.”

Bottom line

Those who have already overcome their money fears are living proof that mindset, a solid plan, and a lot of hard work can propel someone — women specifically — into a life where they’re no longer afraid of financial struggle. Instead, they embrace change, forge ahead, and lean on what they’ve learned to create the life they know they deserve.