Women are more likely to feel stressed about their finances than men — here’s what to do about it

Women are more likely to feel stressed about their finances than men — here’s what to do about it

Bankrate.com Money can be a stressor for all Americans — but more often than not, women are the ones worrying the most about it.

More than 2 in 5 women (or 46 percent) say money issues have negatively affected their mental health, prompting feelings of anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and stress, according to a recent nationwide Bankrate poll. That number compares with 38 percent of men.

Among those who said money negatively impacts their mental health, women are more concerned than men about having enough emergency savings and paying for everyday expenses (at a respective 60 percent and 59 percent, versus 53 percent each for men).

Common financial situations are also more likely to trigger negative emotions for women than men, such as checking one’s bank account (52 percent of women versus 46 percent of men) or facing unexpected expenses (73 percent of women compared with 64 percent of men).

“These survey results are sobering, as financial stress impacts us all,” says Faye McCray, editor in chief of Psych Central, a Healthline Media company that also sponsored the report (Healthline and Bankrate have the same parent company, Red Ventures). “Often, we equate our financial situation with our worthiness, and that may prevent us from seeking support when the worry and anxiety becomes too overwhelming.”

For women, money isn’t always equal

Experts say the results highlight concerns bigger than just women and their individual financial choices — many of them tie to long-standing pay disparities between men and women.

The national median salary for full-time working women was $43,394 in 2019, compared with $53,544 for men, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. That’s left women with less money to work with, making it even more challenging to cover basic expenses let alone aspirational goals of saving for retirement and investing.

More women (at 41 percent) said their mental health was negatively impacted by fears of being unprepared for retirement than men (at 36 percent), according to Bankrate’s poll. A separate Bankrate survey from May found that men (at 50 percent) were also significantly more likely than women (at 37 percent) to say they have stocks or stock-market related investments.

“This is the impact of women not making as much money as men,” says Zaneilia Harris, CFP, president of Harris & Harris Wealth Management Group. “And when you don’t bring home enough income that you feel can sustain your family, that’s a stress point.”

Women (at 61 percent) are also disproportionately more likely to assume caregiving responsibilities than men (at 39 percent), according to a 2020 AARP analysis. Those opportunities can significantly dent their lifetime earnings — especially if women have to take time away from their jobs or work fewer hours.

Starting a family is one of those endeavors that can cost women more than men. Mothers working full-time, year-round outside the home are typically paid just 75 cents for every dollar paid to fathers, according to a Census Bureau analysis from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).

Bankrate’s survey shows that caregiving is also responsible for the stress that women feel. More than half (or 51 percent) of women who are either married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner and have children under 18 say their finances negatively impact their mental health, compared to 42 percent of women who have the same relationship status and no children.

Single-parent women are unsurprisingly even more stressed. The majority (or 57 percent) of women who are not married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner and have children under 18 say money has negatively impacted their mental health, versus 49 percent of single women with no children.

“In so many ways, women are taking on the burden of the household, whether it’s just managing the finances at home or actually raising children or supporting other family members,” says Lauren Anastasio, CFP, director of financial advice at Stash.

In her own life, Anastasio said one of the biggest stressors was being left alone during the day to care for her 1-week-old son when her husband’s paternity leave ended.

Coronavirus pandemic derailed women’s equal pay progress

Gender pay gaps have narrowed in recent years, but experts say lingering impacts from the coronavirus pandemic have threatened to derail that progress. Roughly 1.2 million women are missing from the labor force since the pandemic-induced recession began in February 2020, according to the Department of Labor, while the crisis disproportionately affected women’s employment, a Fed analysis found. Another 1 in 3 women (33 percent) had to reduce their work hours amid pandemic-related school […]

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