As my daughter prepares to start fourth grade next year, my thoughts turn to how close middle school, high school and college really are. In just nine years, my kid will graduate from the 12th grade and be heading off to college in the fall (fingers crossed!). That's not a lot of time to save up for what are now exorbitant tuitions. I have no idea how we're going to swing it, and it quickly stresses me out.
According to the 2015 Financial Stress Report conducted by workplace financial wellness firm Financial Finesse, financial stress is hitting moms the hardest—especially low and middle income mothers. Fifty-five percent of women ages 30 to 55, with household incomes of $60,000 or less and who have minor children, report "high" or "overwhelming" levels of financial stress, according to the report, which analyzed U.S. employee's financial stress and their causes. This is 40 percent more than similar-aged male parents in the same income group.
Women's financial stress levels seem to be impacted by the presence of kids in the house, with 10 percent of women with children reporting having "overwhelming" levels of financial stress, compared to only 3 percent without children. Strangely, men's financial stress levels seem not to be significantly impacted by having kids at home. Only 3 percent of men, with or without children, reported "overwhelming" levels of financial stress.
Why do women feel more stressed over their financial situations than men, even when compared to those in the same demographics? Perhaps because they anticipate being less able to pursue higher-paying job opportunities as the primary caregivers for their children, and therefore have less control over the situation. According to the report, a lack of a sense of control is a primary factor for those employees reporting high or overwhelming financial stress, with 84% of those facing overwhelming stress describing their current financial situation as "not under control."
"While it's no surprise to any working mother that juggling competing financial needs is stressful, small steps over time can create financial balance for families at any income level," said Liz Davidson, Financial Finesse CEO and the mother of a five year old. If you're a mom feeling stressed about finances, Davidson suggests building an emergency fund over time, tracking expenses to find ways to save in order to pay down high-interest debt, and taking full advantage of employer-sponsored benefits at work as three ways to improve your financial well-being.
For me, I plan to start socking away as much as I can—and vote for politicians who are committed to making a college education affordable for everyone.
Related: How to Stick to a Budget
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