Online surveys, focus groups and interviews with 314 women by community service provider Wire Women's Information found that even highly-educated, well-paid women, feel overwhelmed, clueless and fearful about managing their finances.
More than a third of those surveyed online they were just making ends meet and were anxious about their financial future.
Only 16 per cent said they regularly sought financial information and advice.
"Many women spoke about finance being 'another language' and having negative experiences with financial professionals, who they often sought out only in times of extreme stress, such as divorce or the death of a partner," Wire manager Samiro Douglas said.
Fifteen per cent rated their financial literacy as very low and more than a third of women were anxious about their financial future.
Only 10 per cent ranked their ability to read financial literature as high.
Focus groups with 114 women in Melbourne and Shepparton found that emotion, money and family were interwoven.
Women who took part in the discussions were wary, distrustful and reluctant to engage financial professionals, such as financial planners, unless they were highly recommended by someone they trusted.
Wire said financial products, services and educational programs need to take gender into account and financial information also needs to be written in plain English.
Victorian Minister for Women's Affairs Maxine Morand launched the report on Friday, which was funded by the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust.
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