7 Major Money Worries for Men and Women 

Money concerns are a universal source of stress, but certain financial issues tend to cause more anxiety for men versus women. Understanding the key stressors and how they differ across genders is crucial for developing effective solutions.

7 Major Money Worries for Men and Women 

Key Takeaways 

  • Paying off debts like credit cards is the top financial stressor overall for both genders 
  • Not having enough saved for retirement is the second highest money worry, especially among those nearing retirement age 
  • Lack of emergency savings is the third biggest concern, notably for seniors aged 65+ 
  • Desires for an elevated lifestyle fuel stress, primarily in high cost-of-living areas 
  • Education costs, unstable income streams, and housing expenses also rank as major stressors varying by demographics 

7 Major Money Worries for Men and Women 

Personal finances consistently rank as the leading cause of stress in America, according to the American Psychological Association. A recent Laurel Road survey found a slight gender gap – 65% of women and 60% of men cited managing expenses and financial goals as their biggest source of stress. 

This money-related anxiety takes a toll on productivity, sleep quality, mental health, and overall well-being. Pinpointing the root causes behind these financial stressors is key to reducing the burden across society. Let’s examine the 7 Major Money Worries for Men and Women based on multiple survey insights. 

1. Paying Off Debt (Credit Cards, Loans, etc.)

Paying off debt like credit cards, student loans, auto loans and other liabilities emerged as the number one financial stressor across all demographics. A whopping 20.6% of over 7,000 respondents in a GOBankingRates survey cited debt payoff as their top money worry. 

Debt was the leading cause of financial stress in 32 U.S. states and the top choice for both male and female survey participants. In today’s climate of soaring costs and stagnant wages, it has become increasingly challenging for many Americans to get out from under burdensome debt levels: 

  • 43% of families spend more than they earn annually according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • The average U.S. household carries $8,398 in revolving credit card debt based on Federal Reserve data 
  • 25% of Americans have no retirement savings whatsoever to fall back on in case of emergencies 

Factors like unstable income sources and high costs of living in states like Florida and Texas only exacerbate the debt burden. For example, Floridians owe more per capita on credit cards and auto loans than the national average according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 

2. Not Having Enough Saved for Retirement

The second highest financial stressor at 15.6% was not being able to retire comfortably due to inadequate retirement savings. This was the top worry for adults aged 45-64 who are nearing their retirement years. 

Residents of states like New Jersey and Iowa showed elevated levels of retirement savings stress in surveys. Their concern is well-founded considering startling statistics on the nation’s retirement readiness: 

  • Only 25% of Americans are confident they will have enough money saved for retirement according to an Employee Benefit Research Institute survey 
  • The median retirement account balance across all working-age families is just $65,000 based on Federal Reserve data 
  • Estimated annual costs for a retired couple aged 65+ range from $63,000 to $115,000 per year depending on factors like healthcare expenses 

Saving enough to fully fund retirement is an immense challenge with the rising costs of living, burdensome education costs for children, stagnant wage growth, and longer life expectancies requiring ever-larger retirement nest eggs. 

3. Lack of Emergency Savings

Tied with retirement worries as the third biggest financial stressor at 15.6% was not having enough money saved for an emergency fund. This was the top money concern for those aged 65 and older. 

Emergency savings provide a crucial buffer against unexpected expenses like medical bills, major home repairs, or sudden job loss that could otherwise quickly plunge a household into insurmountable debt. However, most Americans find themselves woefully underprepared: 

  • 28% of adults have no emergency savings set aside at all according to Bankrate data 
  • Only 18% have enough saved to cover 3-5 months’ worth of essential living expenses 
  • States like Mississippi, Arkansas, South Dakota and Oklahoma showed elevated stress levels over lacking emergency funds 

An eye-opening AARP study found that 63% of Americans would be unable to afford an unexpected $500 car repair or $1,000 emergency room visit solely through their existing savings. This profound lack of emergency preparedness causes immense financial vulnerability and stress. 

4. Affording the Desired Lifestyle

At 14%, the desire for an elevated or “nicer” standard of living was cited as the fourth top money stressor across survey participants. It was the number one financial concern among residents of high cost-of-living areas like Washington D.C., which has the second highest cost of living in the nation after Hawaii. 

The pressure to afford an enhanced lifestyle also tied for the lead financial stressor along with retirement concerns for residents of Delaware. A higher “desired lifestyle” often correlates with larger expenditures like: 

  • Expensive mortgage/rent payments for luxury homes 
  • Pricey vacations and high discretionary spending habits 
  • Costs of sending children to elite private schools 
  • Payments and maintenance for luxury vehicles 

While affluent households understandably feel this pressure more acutely, even middle-class American families frequently succumb to “lifestyle creep” – allowing their spending to ratchet up as their incomes rise over time. Trying to “keep up with the Joneses” and show off signals of status fuels significant financial anxiety. 

5. Paying for Education (College, etc.)

13.1% of survey respondents across all demographics cited paying for education costs like college tuition as their biggest money stressor. It was the top financial worry for those aged 18-24 who are often directly financing their degrees. 

Residents of states like Idaho and Hawaii showed elevated stress levels regarding education expenses. The exorbitant costs of higher education in recent decades help explain their concerns: 

  • Average cost of a 4-year public university in 2022-2023 including tuition, fees, room & board: 
  • In-state: $27,330 per year 
  • Out-of-state: $44,150 per year 
  • Over 62% of students who graduated from private and public 4-year colleges in 2019 had outstanding student loans averaging $28,950 in debt<span data-ccp-props=”{“201341983″:0,”335559739″:240,”335559740″:276}”>

As the price of higher education becomes less and less affordable for the average American family, young people and their parents face difficult choices. They must either take on excessive debt burdens, settle for lower-quality education options, or forgo college entirely – all of which increase stress and financial insecurity. 

6. Unstable or Lack of Income

11.7% of those surveyed cited an unstable or lack of steady income as their primary financial stressor. This tied for the leading money concern in Rhode Island along with debt payoff worries. Job and income instability represent growing challenges in today’s “gig economy” era. 

States like Rhode Island and Georgia showed elevated stress levels regarding income uncertainty, likely stemming from factors such as: 

  • Higher rates of unemployment and underemployment 
  • Prevalence of freelance, contract, and other contingent workforce arrangements 
  • Risks of layoffs and job insecurity, especially during economic recessions 
  • Stagnant wage growth failing to keep up with soaring costs of living 

Not knowing if or when your next paycheck will arrive is an incredibly stressful situation that hampers the ability to budget, save for the future, and avoid falling into debt cycles when cash flows become erratic. 

7. Paying Mortgage or Rent

While housing costs did not rank as the absolute top financial stressor at 9.4% of respondents, it tied for the leading money worry in the high cost-of-living state of Vermont. Rapidly rising mortgage and rental costs have made housing one of the biggest strains on family budgets nationwide in recent years. 

In 2022, a typical U.S. renter household spent a staggering 32% of their annual income just on rent payments – well above the 30% threshold for housing costs to be considered affordable. An influx of real estate investors scooping up inventory has constrained supply and driven up housing costs while wage growth remains stagnant. This leaves many households feeling “house-rich” but “cash-poor.” 

Even for those who do achieve homeownership, the $2,305 median monthly mortgage payment<span data-contrast=”auto”> for new purchases takes a substantial bite out of paychecks. And in notoriously expensive coastal markets like California or New York, that monthly mortgage figure can easily double or triple. 


Financial stress affects individuals from all walks of life, with common concerns ranging from debt management to retirement savings, emergency funds, education costs, income stability, and housing expenses.  

Addressing these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that includes both personal financial management and broader societal initiatives. By promoting financial literacy, implementing supportive policies, and fostering a culture of responsible money management, we can work towards reducing the burden of financial stress and building a more financially secure future for everyone.

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