34% of Women Are Stressed Over Their Finances: Do These Things if You're One of Them
Here's how to address your financial worries and help yourself sleep better at night.
It's not uncommon to experience financial stress, whether it's worrying about bills or being concerned that your savings efforts aren't progressing as much as you'd like. Fidelity reports that 34% of women are anxious about financial matters, so much so that it keeps them up at night at least once a month.
Of course, women have plenty of reasons to be concerned about their finances. For one thing, women tend to earn less than their male counterparts, which makes keeping up with expenses more difficult. Some women also face challenges on the road to career growth, particularly in male-dominated industries where upward mobility is tough to attain.
If you're concerned about your finances, you're clearly -- and unfortunately -- in good company. Here are some important financial steps you can take to ease your mind.
1. Build a solid emergency fund
The idea of losing your job or encountering a string of unplanned bills can be scary. If that's a fear of yours, your best bet is to build an emergency fund.
Ideally, you should have enough money in a savings account to pay for three to six months of essential living expenses. If you're expecting a career disruption -- say, you plan to take unpaid maternity leave or you're aiming to pause your career for a few years to raise your young children -- then you may want to pad your savings even more.
2. Learn to invest
The more empowered you are to invest your money, the more wealth you can set yourself up to gain over time. It pays to open a brokerage account and put some of the money you're not using immediately to work by investing it in stocks and other options. If you're not sure how to get started, there are online guides to opening a brokerage account and learning how to pick stocks for the first time. Some brokerage accounts also come with their own education resources that can help you grow your knowledge.
3. Fund a retirement plan
Many women worry that once they retire, they won't have enough money to cover their living expenses. If that's a concern, make an effort to consistently contribute to an IRA or 401(k) plan. Not only will saving in one of these accounts set you up for more financial security later in life, but you might reap some valuable tax breaks along the way.
With a traditional IRA or 401(k), the money you contribute goes in tax-free. That means the IRS will tax you on less of your income.
4. Prepare for healthcare emergencies
You never know when an unplanned medical bill might wreak havoc on your finances. That's why it's smart to have a dedicated account for healthcare purposes.
If you qualify for a health savings account (HSA), it pays to fund one. Eligibility hinges on being enrolled in a health insurance plan with a high annual deductible, the definition of which changes every year (for both 2021 and 2022, you can qualify with a deductible of $1,400 or more for self-only coverage).
If you can't participate in a health savings account, a flexible spending account (FSA) is another good option. Both accounts offer tax breaks that make them worthwhile.
Many women routinely experience financial stress. If your stress has been causing you to lose sleep, take these steps to ease your mind and set yourself on a more secure path.
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