What's holding women back from doing even better financially than they are?
According to a new "Female Financial Empowerment" survey from Edward Jones, while women have made great strides in gender and income equality in the workplace, one of the biggest challenges they continue to face is their tendency to "prioritize immediate family needs" over saving for their own future.
That certainly helps explain what the financial services firm acknowledged was an inherent conflict in the findings: While seven out of 10 women polled said they felt "confident" about their financial knowledge, all too many have actually done little to nothing to generate their own long-term wealth.
"Only 25 percent of women surveyed consider saving for retirement as their most important goal over the next three to five years," said Nela Richardson, an investment strategist at Edward Jones. "That tells us that female financial empowerment should be next on the list of barriers women have broken over the past few decades."
The two other biggest challenges women need to surmount, according to the national sample of 1,004 adult women ages 18 and older?
They're either waiting for some amorphous "perfect" time to invest - something, in all fairness, men are also guilty of - or they're waiting for … you name it to motivate them.
A big raise or other windfall (49 percent). A financial emergency (20 percent). A significant life event (20 percent). A market correction (12 percent).
None of which, let's be frank, is likely to make you the next Francoise Bettencourt Meyers. (More on that in a minute.)
"Waiting for a raise or a significant life event, by definition, isn't a financial strategy," Richardson said, "and they'll always be competing priorities. The key is to anticipate both tailwinds and headwinds in life, and be flexible enough to adapt to changing situations so you can meet your long-term financial goals."
Edward Jones lays out a female-centric approach to handling your finances on its website. But here's a quick cheat sheet to get you started:
* Make yourself a priority by starting to invest now in order to give your money time to grow - never underestimating the power of a wondrous thing called compound interest.
* Begin small with modest investments.
* Develop a goals-based financial strategy.
As for how much better women are doing financially, here's one notable sign: Forbes' list of the world's 100 richest people featured just four females in 2000 compared to 10 this year. The richest woman - and fifteenth overall - was the aforementioned L'Oréal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers ($49.3 billion), who's chairwoman of the family's holding company.
But she inherited her wealth, you say? Well, the youngest self-made billionaire ever, according to Forbes, is none other than 21-year-old cosmetics wunderkind Kylie Jenner ($1 billion).