Australian women are losing sleep over money. Literally
22 June 2016, Wendy Tuohy, The Daily Telegraph
Anxiety is a huge problem among Australian women and if the chorus of “me too” that erupts each time a high profile Australian woman comes out and discusses their long-term battle with it is any gauge, it’s something many are quietly struggling with.
But in a peaceful, comfortable and relatively affluent nation, what are we so worried about? Compared with women in many parts of the world, we have relatively few life-threatening or even quality of life, concerns.
A new study as revealed exclusively here by RendezView goes at least part of the way to answering the question: women are worried about their financial security and debt levels, and how these are impacting negatively on relationships and families.
A Galaxy Poll of 1000 people nationwide found 67 per cent of Australians are worried about their finances and outstanding debts, with women more likely to say they feel anxious and stressed about them (47 per cent) than men (33 per cent).
Twenty two per cent of women say they have experienced panic attacks about the state of their finances and the impact this is having, compared with 13 per cent of men, but men are more likely to fear losing their job (27 per cent, compared with 18 per cent of women).
The cost of rising electricity bills, food and health insurance are making it difficult for people to stick to their monthly budget, according to the research done by for debt management group Fox Symes. Three in five people say rising power bills are the main stressor, followed by food (55 per cent) and insurance (49 per cent).
Overall, 40 per cent of people said they were experiencing anxiety and stress over finances, 37 per cent said it had made them unable to sleep at night and 23 per cent said they lived in fear of losing their job. Nearly one in five said they feared losing or having to sell their home.
Why women worry more than men is not clear, but given women with school-aged children typically work fewer hours than men and recent research has found many are unable to find extra working hours when they need them, feeling vulnerable due to lack of work could be a factor.
Underemployment among women seeking more hours is a big problem and is leading in part to the phenomenon of many women reaching retirement without enough superannuation to sustain them.
Worrying about finances and debt is also having a negative effect on relationships and families, with 18 per cent of respondents saying they have argued with a partner or been afraid of splitting up with them due to the stress, and 10 per cent saying they’ve put off having a family or another child due to the anxiety.
Women (at 43 per cent) are more likely to be losing sleep over outstanding debt than men (31 per cent). People with children under 18 living at home are more likely to have experienced anxiety and stress over finances (32 per cent compared with 19 per cent who don’t have dependants at home).
“We do see people who are experiencing relationship problems because of money and debt issues,” says Deborah Southon, director at Fox Symes.
“It can be tricky for a couple to jointly manage their finances, particularly if one likes to save and another likes to spend. People need to work out a system where they discuss things calmly and put practical steps into place such as workable realistic budget and automatic payments.”
“Stressing about money can be a major source of anxiety for women,” Ms Southon says.
“Money can really put a strain on relationships and family dynamics,” says Ms Southon. “There’s a lot to think about — childcare costs, bigger grocery bills, bigger electricity bills, bigger housing costs, the list goes on.”
With talk of Medicare being privatised — whether accurate or not — escalating as the election campaign peaks, it looks like there are plenty of sleepless nights ahead for women already saying they under financial stress.