NEW YORK (MainStreet) — When Fran Kuglen was 24 years old, she launched a hair products company called Jontee Accessories with $250 in cash. She operated the business out of the basement of her home and worked 14-hour days, seven days a week.
"I was terrified most of the time but too exhausted to stop and analyze," said the married mother of two children. "By the time I realized how precarious my position was, I was in too deep."
Her persistence paid off. In 1994, Kuglen's accessories were selling in Macy's and JCPenney stores nationwide as well as on television's QVC. Her $10.5 million company was eventually acquired by Newell-Rubbermaid.
"Selling a company is a grueling process," Kuglen said. "It took a full year to negotiate and work through with attornies. The process was so insanely time-consuming and stressful that I cried every single day."
While women are earning bigger paychecks, 49% fear they'll end up not only penniless but also homeless, according to the 2013 Allianz Women, Money & Power Survey.
"Women are brilliantly suited to financial self-determination but very few women value financial freedom despite saying they would like more money," said Margie Baldock, author of the book The Mother Lode Manifesto (Star Fire Books, 2013). "If a woman does not make the conscious decision to become financially free, then homelessness is a real and present danger," .
The Allianz study found that although more than half of married women see themselves as chief financial officer of their households, 56% percent of single women compared to 43% of married women and 54% of divorced women fear deep down becoming a bag lady.
"The number of financially savvy women who feel confident about their spending, saving and investing strategies is growing, which is wonderful news but they still represent only 20% of all women," says Luna Jaffe, a certified financial planner.
In fact, two-thirds of women believe that they cannot rely on a spouse to handle investing with 57% of women saying they primarily handle major investment decisions and retirement planning themselves, implying that husbands and partners are not as influential in financial matters as they used to be.
"I think choosing a partner who isn't intimidated by your success and who takes pride and joy in seeing you soar is as important to entrepreneurs as financing, because being the spouse of an entrepreneur is challenging," Kuglen said. "The business is like a third person in the marriage."
According to the Allianz study, 85% of women want to learn about the topic of how to achieve their preferred lifestyle in retirement yet 12% say they have yet to begin saving for retirement.
"Millionaires only spend after they set aside money to invest," Baldock said. "As a minimum, this passive strategy requires women to set aside 10% a year of their income for investing. Anyone can be financially free in 5 to 7 years with just this single strategy."
--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet