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Why Are Women Stressing More About Money?

Written by Kelley Keehn

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

According to a recent study by the Financial Planning Standards Council, the number one stressor facing Canadians is money – no surprise! The research also revealed women are stressing much more than men – 51% vs 40%, respectively – and are losing sleep at night about their financial woes.

So Why Are Women More Stressed About Money Than Men?

One reason could be that women are taking charge of the household finances and stepping up to the plate to manage more of the investments. According to a recent Globe and Mail article, millennial women (those born in 1980 to 1995) are taking on the job of household CFO more than any other generation.

But This New Role Has its Downsides

Laurie Campbell, CEO of Credit Canada, says that when her office phone rings, it's often the "woman that calls in to discuss [their issues] with us. Women tend to think about details more than men. Men have overarching goals, whereas woman may see the day-to-day expenses more explicitly."

Author, actor and producer Monica Parker believes women respond to money more emotionally than men, and that creates stress. "For women it could mean safety, shelter, food on the table and wellbeing for her family. Money is protection. It's in their DNA going back to hunter/gatherer days. Today, having money is not a luxury but a necessity, and not just for nice things but for life-giving basics."

Campbell wonders about the mixed messages women are given about money. "Men worry more about what's coming in [for income], and women about what's going out," she says. "And because she only makes 87% of what the average man does, she has more reason to worry!"

Adds Parker: "For responsible women, there is a constant struggle between wants versus needs. Not having enough money, for many, brings on shame, denial and fear – all harbingers of stress."

For her new book project, Parker recorded one hundred women on their relationship with money. "Whether as mothers, wives, girlfriends or guardians, it's on us to keep hearth and home together, and that requires the means to make that possible."

What Can Women Do to Take Charge of their Finances and Reduce the Stress?

Campbell suggests the following:

  • Take the emotion out of money and look through the lens of a third person (pretend you're talking to a friend)
  • Don't doubt your decisions - do your homework and trust your judgement
  • Get help early (from a place like Credit Canada or another non-profit credit counsellor if you need help with debt, money management or a Certified Financial Planner if you need help with financial planning)
  • Sometimes your spouse or partner doesn't want to act, so you may need to take the first step on your own
  • Write it all down, which also helps take the emotion out of it. Now you're dealing in facts and figures
  • Set goals, make a plan and include family members so everyone is on the same page
  • Find time to talk to your spouse or partner about money when the setting is calm and undisturbed
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