Money – or the lack thereof – can cause anxiety, apprehension, and the inability to unwind and rest. And while these concerns may result in more than a few sleepless nights, it appears than women are doing a lot more tossing and turning.
According to a recent survey by Creditcards.com, women lose more sleep than men fretting over their financial situation.
Overall, 68% of women, compared to 58% of men, are losing sleep over money woes and financial problems.
The top 5 specific financial reasons for sleepless nights are as follows:
Women vs. Men
Saving for Retirement 44% 35%
Education Expenses 32% 27%
Health Care/Insurance 33% 24%
Mortgage/Rent 28% 23%
Credit Card Debt 23% 21%
However, the survey respondents were tossing and turning over more than one financial concern. In fact, they stated that there were 2.3 (yes, that 2-point-3) issues keeping them awake at night.
The survey confirms other research about the perilous financial state facing many women (and men).
REASONS FOR HIGHER STRESS LEVELS
Women are more likely to acknowledge their emotions, and this is one reason why a higher percentage of this gender is stressed about their finances. However, it’s impossible to overlook the tangible, financial reasons for distress among women.
Gender Pay Gap
Although women account for almost half of the workforce, data from the White House reveals that they make 79% of what men make. In other words, for every dollar that men earn, women earn 79 cents. The Pew Research Center’s data, which includes both full-time and part-time workers, puts the estimate at 84%. The Center notes that women would have to work 40 extra days to earn the same amount of money as a man in a given year.
However, assuming that women have the same financial responsibilities as men (saving for retirement, healthcare costs, mortgage/rent, credit card debt, etc.), it’s not hard to understand why they’re more likely to experience sleepless nights.
Besides the obvious gender gap in pay, women also have to contend with a variety of other issues. The Center notes that mothers are much more likely than fathers to experience career disruptions, as reflected in the table below. When asked what type of career interruptions they’ve experienced in order to care for a child or family member, the responses were as follows:
Mothers vs. Fathers
Reduced Work Hours 42% 28%
Taken a Significant amount of Time Off 39% 24%
Quit Job 27% 10%
Turned down a Promotion 13% 10%
Obviously, having to quit a job will result in a substantial loss of income, and having to turn down a promotion is a lost opportunity for financial increase. However, even a reduction in work hours or taking a significant amount of time off can produce not one, but two, negative results. First, this absence from work will result in a smaller paycheck. But the second result is that this individual may end up being fired or placed on the “downsizing” list.
While companies may be sympathetic to a challenging home situation, their top priority is the success of their organization, and they may not be willing to keep employees who cannot work according to the agreed-upon terms of employment. So even if the employee wants to remain, it may not be their choice. (Note: not every employee or company meets the Family Medical and Leave Act requirements.)
The Single Parent Effect
And even if they don’t have to take time off to care for family members, many mothers bear the financial burden of being the sole breadwinner. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women head 80% of single parent families. That number is important for the following reasons:
- 45% of children raised only by their mother are below the poverty line
- 21% of children raised only by their father are below the poverty line
- 13% of children rained in two-parent families are below the poverty
The Bureau also reveals the difference in income among single mothers and married couples:
- $26,000 is the median income for single mothers
- $84,000 is the median income for married couples
Another reason more women toss and turn at night: the high cost of education. A higher percentage of women than men attend and graduate from college. And according to a study by Penn State’s Institute for Research on Higher Education, the cost of college is now so expensive that full-time students can’t afford to work their way through college. Even those who are able to qualify for financial aid don’t receive enough to cover their costs. So more students (and remember more than half of them are women) end up taking out student loans. Whether or not they graduate, once they stop attending school on a full-time basis, it’s time to start repaying those loans. Many women aren’t aware that there are income-based repayment options, so they try to consistently make payments that they may not be able to afford.
Also, research shows that men who graduate from college are more likely to have majored in a subject that pays well, like business or a technical field. On the other hand, the most popular majors among women are education and social service disciplines that don’t pay nearly as handsomely.
We know that the average American probably deals with some level of financial pressure. However, it’s a lot more intense for those who are tossing and turning at night. And women are more likely to fall into this group – often as a result of circumstances that are beyond their control.