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Breadwinner Moms Face Financial Challenges

[Monday, July 27th, 2015]

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) is bringing to light some of the struggles faced by mothers who are the sole breadwinners for their families. These can include reduced income, increased expenses, and poor credit.

Citing a Pew Research study, the NFCC estimates that 5.1 million women in America are married moms who earn more than their partners and 8.6 million are single parents, who earn substantially less than married women. Each group of women faces their own challenges, but there is some overlap between the two as well.

The NFCC’s Sharpen Your Financial Focus program is geared toward helping folks increase their financial literacy, make a game plan to get out of debt, and use credit wisely. As part of this program, the NFCC worked with The Ohio State University (OSU) to survey program participants. Fifty-two percent of program participants who identified as sole breadwinners said they were single, and 32% said they were divorced.

Making the most money, dealing with the most stress

Sole breadwinner means that the woman is the primary wage earner for her household; she may or may not have a partner or other household member who is also bringing home a paycheck.

Susan Keating, president and CEO of the NFCC, said the organization is proud to offer support that helps working women “provide a more stable financial future for themselves and their families.” Keating went on to say that “working women who support the needs of their families are faced with difficult financial choices every day.”

Among these challenges are unemployment, underemployment, domestic conflict, separation, and divorce. Medical costs and lack of savings are other contributing factors to the financial stress of being a working mom responsible for the lion’s share of the bills. Twenty-two percent of the mothers in the NFCC/OSU survey reported suffering negative effects as the result of some sort of domestic conflict, and 29% were negatively impacted by unemployment or underemployment.

Income inequality for moms

The median income of households headed by divorced or single mothers was $57,000 less than the income of households where a married woman earned the bulk of the income. That makes putting money aside for savings a greater challenge for divorced or single moms.

Taking part in the Sharpen Your Financial Focus program helped women decrease their debt and increase their credit scores, allowing them more options for getting a credit card. While there are plenty of credit cards available for people with limited credit, the options for reward credit cards and low APR credit cards are greater for folks with good credit. A credit card can be a useful financial tool for anyone who is single-handedly supporting a family, and having access to one is essential, especially for busy moms.

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