It's hard to argue with the fact that stay-at-home parenting is one of the most undervalued careers in the U.S. Moms (and yes, some dads, too) do double duty as chauffeurs, cooks, psychologists, money managers and more, on average clocking a 94-hour work week, according to Salary.com.
Based on the 10 most time consuming tasks listed by more than 6,000 mothers, Salary.com estimated it would cost $113,586 a year to replace them. That's a paltry $624 (0.5%) raise since the same study in 2012.
To put that in perspective, a physician earns about $153,000 for 56 hours of work per week.
Salary.com also estimated the value of working mothers' household duties, finding they deserve an extra $67,436 per year for the 58 hours of work they take on outside of their 9-to-5 jobs. That's a meager $457 raise (0.07%) over 2012.
But here's the sad part –– most mothers don't even give themself that much credit.
A similar study by Insure.com found that 11% of women valued moms' household work at under $10,000 a year. Just 7% said it was worth a six-figure salary.
Insure.com was far less generous with its salary estimate, pinning the 2013 market value of a mom at $59,862, down for the second year in a row.
"Just because someone doesn't earn a salary doesn't mean that they don't make significant contributions to the family that could be costly to replace," Marvin Feldman, president and CEO of the LIFE Foundation, said. "You must think about whether your spouse could afford to pay someone else to provide these services in your absence."
It seems the recession was just as damaging to the stay-at-home parent business as other jobs. This year's salary for moms is well below the $138,000 payday Salary.com estimated just six years ago.
At the same time, salaries for various jobs moms perform for their families –– laundry service, household cleaning, financial management, etc. –– declined as well, which explains why studies like these fluctuate with the economy.
When the economy tanked, so did the number of stay-at-home moms. In 2010, there were 5 million stay-at-home mothers (and 154,000 dads) in the U.S., down from 5.6 million in 2007, according to the Fiscal Times. A new survey by CouponCabin found more than half of working mothers consider themselves the primary breadwinners in their household.
Here's the breakdown of Insure.com's Mother's Day Index:
Women live longer than men by an average of five years. If one needs $3,500 per month (in today's dollars, no less) to cover costs, then that means a woman will need an average of more than $200,000 in extra retirement savings compared to a man purely due to statistical longevity.
Women take more time out of the workforce to raise children, care for sick or elderly parents, and tend to other family matters. Immediately, this results in lost income and depleted savings. For a hypothetical job with a $40,000 annual salary, just two years out of work means she's already $80,000 (minus taxes) in the hole versus her male counterpart. And less time in the workforce leaves women fewer dollars for Social Security, pensions, and other retirement income.
The gender bias also exists in health insurance, where women typically pay 30% more than men in premiums. According to a report cited in The New York Times, "more than 90% of the best-selling health insurance plans charge women more than men." For example, a $300-per-month premium policy for a woman might cost a man $210 per month (30% less). This difference adds up to roughly $44,000 over a lifetime spanning from post-college age to the time one is eligible for Medicare.
Women often get paid less for the same work. In some cases, women get paid 66 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make; for some occupations, this figure is closer to 77 cents per dollar. At best, women receive equal pay for equal work. But a 23% wage penalty due to one's gender -- approximately $10,000 per year over a working life (again assuming a $40,000 annual salary) -- translates into $400,000 over the course of a 40-year career. And those lost dollars could be the difference between being able to save enough for retirement or not.
A woman has a 1-in-2 chance that at some point in her life, she'll need long-term care -- meaning a period of at least 90 days when she requires assistance with activities like dressing, eating and bathing. Those odds are greater than her male counterpart's. And a woman typically spends twice as many years needing long-term care as a man, statistically three years longer. At a national average rate of $3,477 per month for assisted-living long-term care, this equals roughly $125,000.
As if these staggering added costs weren't enough, due to divorce or death of a spouse or partner, 90% of women who at one time had a second household income to help them get by will be left to handle the entire burden on their own later in life.
All of these reasons make it absolutely critical for women to understand money, investing, and personal finance in order to take control of their financial lives.