It’s no secret that money is a major source of stress for Americans — and millennials are no exception.
A new survey from Novi Money, however, finds that there’s a gender gap in financial stress levels. We analyzed responses from millennials ages 23 to 38 who own a bank account to find that most women in this group say money is their top stressor. The majority also say thinking about money is overwhelming. Far fewer men say they find money similarly stressful or overwhelming.
In this piece, we’ll take a closer look at the attitudes millennial men and women have toward their finances and money management.
- Just over half (51.9%) of millennial women agree that money is the most stressful thing in their lives. On top of that, 55.3% of women say they find thinking about money overwhelming.
- Men are less likely than women to find money stressful or overwhelming. 43.2% agree money is their biggest stressor and only 36.1% find thinking about their finances overwhelming.
- Women are twice as likely as men to lack confidence in their own financial decisions. While 21.7% of women say they lack confidence that they’re making the best money choices, only 11.0% of men say the same thing.
- Taking a look at account balances, it makes sense why men are more confident and less stressed about money — they actually have more of it. Men have 70% more saved in retirement accounts, 36% higher checking account balances, and 29% more in savings.
- Confidence in financial choices doesn’t necessarily chart with better outcomes across the board, however. Millennials with the most confidence in their money choices tended to also have higher debt balances compared to overall averages.
Majority of Millennial Women Say Money is No. 1 Stressor
For most millennial women, money is the biggest source of stress in their lives.
When evaluating the statement, “Money is the most stressful thing in my life,” 51.9% of women say it matches their experience. Of this group, 32.9% agree and 19.0% of women strongly agree that money is their top stressor.
In contrast to the majority of millennial women who say money is most stressful for them, 27.1% disagree with this sentiment. This means that women are twice as likely to agree than to disagree that money is their main source of stress.
Our analysis also shows that women who say they’re stressed about money are more likely to have burdensome debt. On average, those who agree with this statement owe more than $60,000 in “bad” debt such as credit card balances, auto loans, and personal loans — four times more than women for whom debt is not a major source of stress.
For an even larger majority of millennial women, 55.3%, even thinking about money feels overwhelming. This includes 20.7% of women who strongly agree with the statement “Thinking about money overwhelms me.”
Women are more than twice as likely to agree than to disagree that thinking about money is overwhelming. Just 23.8% disagree with the statement, less than half of the number who agree.
Women who agree that money is overwhelming also have smaller assets, on average. They have significantly lower checking and savings account balances than those who are neutral or disagree.
Millennial Men Are Less Stressed and Overwhelmed by Money
Most millennial women find money stressful and overwhelming — but the same isn’t true of their male peers.
Fewer millennial men say money is their top stressor (43.3% compared to 51.9% of women). They also do not find thinking about money as overwhelming as millennial women do (36.1% compared to 55.3% of women).
Interestingly, while millennial women are more likely to say they find money overwhelming than stressful — millennial men reverse this trend. They are more likely to agree that money is their top stressor, at 43.3%, than to say they find thinking about their finances overwhelming, 36.1%.
Men Have More Saved Than Women
Women’s financial stress and overwhelm might be the natural result of simply having fewer funds available to save. Our survey asked respondents to estimate the balances of various bank and retirement accounts.
In every case, millennial men have more funds in these accounts on average than do millennial women:
- Men have 70% more in retirement accounts, compared to women
- Men’s checking account balances are 36% higher
- Men have 29% more funds stashed in savings accounts
Millennial women are the furthest behind men when it comes to retirement savings.
Overall, the lower balances in women’s accounts mean they likely have tighter budgets and fewer funds with which to cover costs and meet financial demands. Trying to make less money stretch further could explain the gap in financial stress between men and women.
Millennial Women Are Less Financially Confident
The stress and overwhelm women associate with managing money also extends into their financial decision making, our survey finds.
Millennial women are less likely than men of the same ages to agree with the statement, “I feel confident that I’m making the right financial decisions.” While about two-thirds of millennial men agree with this statement (63.5%), just half of
Women are also twice as likely as men to disagree — indicating they lack confidence in their financial decisions. Among women, 21.7% disagree with this statement of confidence compared to 11.0% of men.
Even comparing financially confident men and women, men still have more financial assets than women — especially retirement savings. Financially confident women, on the other hand, carry less than half as much “bad debt” as their confident male peers.
The gender gap in assets persists among millennials who are not confident in their financial choices. Bad debt levels, however, are more similar between women and men who aren’t financially confident.
Financially Confident Millennials Owe Nearly $50,000 More In Bad Debt
Financial confidence doesn’t always correlate directly with greater financial health or higher net worths, however — especially when it comes to debt.
In our survey analysis, we found that millennials who strongly agree with the statement “I feel confident I am making the right decisions about my finances” carry far more bad debt.
In all, financially confident millennials owe $82,764 across all forms of what is typically considered ‘bad’ debt (all debt shown above besides student loans). That’s about 95% more than the $42,462 average for all millennials (ages 23 to 38). This significant difference leaves financially confident millennials far more burdened by debt.
This doesn’t directly contradict the confidence they have in their finances, however. Higher debt balances can indicate that these people are more creditworthy, with higher incomes and positive financial histories that allow them to get approved for new loans and credit.
Overall, our survey reveals a significant gender gap in how banked millennials view their finances. Not only do women ages 23 to 38 have less saved than their male peers, their experiences with money are also more stressful and overwhelming.
This highlights the importance of increasing women’s access to effective money advice, products, and financial education. By seeking out and leveraging better money strategies and tools, millennial women can make smart financial choices that lower their money stress and build their confidence
This survey was conducted through AYTM Market Research. It collected 1,000 responses from February 8-15, 2019 from adults ages 18 to 44 in the United States who hold a bank account (checking, savings, money market or certificate of deposit).
This analysis only evaluated data from respondents ages 23 to 38, in line with the current ages of millennials. Additionally, these survey results only reflect the experiences of banked millennials who hold a deposit account, and are not representative of the unbanked or underbanked.