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Women Still Do More Housework Than Men, Contributing $10K+ in Value Annually

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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When you finally get home after work, the last thing you want to do is clean last night’s dirty dishes. But the reality is that many Americans spend their evenings, and even weekends, doing chores. While you may consider hiring a professional to help around the house, doing your own chores may save you thousands of dollars every year.

Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on occupational earnings and how much time Americans spend on different chores, we were able to estimate how much it would cost to pay a professional to do those chores instead. We also found that, compared with men, women contribute over $3,000 more in value each year when it comes to unpaid labor at home.

Key findings

  • The average American saves about $9,022 annually by doing their housework themselves instead of choosing to pay a professional to do the same tasks.
  • There is an enormous difference in annual savings between men and women. The average woman’s time spent on chores is worth $10,755, compared to $7,420 for men.
  • Americans spend an average of 107 minutes per day on household activities, including cleaning, food preparation and minor home repairs. When broken down by gender, men spend roughly 82 minutes per day on household activities, and women spend 130 minutes per day on average.
  • We can then multiply these numbers across every woman and man over the age of 15 to calculate the replacement value of household chores in the United States: $1.5 trillion for women and $964.4 billion for men.
  • The largest chunk (and value) of Americans’ time is spent cooking. If we assumed your time spent on cooking was replaced with that of a professional chef, the average American’s time spent cooking is worth $2,856 per year.
    • Again, there is a large disparity between annual savings for men versus women. For women, the average savings on cooking is $3,872, while for men, it’s $1,791.
  • The second-biggest time sink of household chores is general cleaning, such as laundry and tidying up. The average woman spends 50 minutes per day cleaning, while men spend just 14 minutes daily. Replacing that labor with professional cleaners costs about $13.26 per hour.
    • Over a year, the replacement value of that labor is just over $1,037 for men but $3,746 for women.

Women contribute much more value, time to housework than men

Each year, women contribute $10,755 worth of housework. Men contribute $7,420 annually, a difference of more than $3,000. This is an interesting component of the gender wage gap, because unpaid housework can affect a woman’s earning power, as noted in a recent study published by the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research. Put simply, women doing more of the free labor at home means that they have less time for paid labor outside the home (or at least less downtime).

Most activities aren’t daily, but the minutes add up

BLS data indicates that women spend an average of more than two hours each day doing housework — men spend just under an hour and a half doing these types of chores. See how many minutes per day men and women spend doing typical household chores:

Men add value through contributing labor to high-value tasks

Although men spend much less time than women doing housework on average, they handle many of the highest-paying tasks, such as car repairs and handyman work.

The three highest-paying chores — car repairs, interior and exterior maintenance and home appliance repairs — are in male-dominated verticals. Were a professional to handle these tasks instead, they would make the following hourly rates:

  1. Automotive service technicians and mechanics: $21.02
  2. Painters, construction and maintenance: $20.70
  3. Home appliance repairers: $19.72

On the other hand, women commit more time to the three lowest-paying jobs, including interior cleaning, animal and pet care and food preparation and cleanup. Professionals in these industries earn the following hourly wages:

  1. Maids and housekeeping cleaners: $11.84
  2. Non-farm animal caretakers: $12.45
  3. Restaurant cooks: $13.26

Cooking accounts for the most time spent and value earned

Americans spend 35 minutes per day on average preparing meals. Women spend more time cooking than men, at 48 minutes and 22 minutes, respectively; this time includes food preparation, as well as cleanup. According to the BLS, restaurant cooks may order supplies, plan the menu and prepare the food, making this the most comparable occupation, with an average wage of $13.26 per hour.

This means that, on average, Americans save $2,856 annually by cooking their own food, rather than paying a professional for this task.

Americans as a whole save trillions by doing their own chores

Unpaid housework isn’t included in our country’s GDP, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. Americans save thousands each year by taking housework into their own hands. Annually, the completion of household chores translates to trillions of dollars in value that’s not accounted for.

American women aged 15 and older save an estimated $1.5 trillion each year by doing housework themselves rather than outsourcing the same tasks. Comparatively, American men who are 15 and older save a total of $964.4 billion. That’s a total of $2.4 trillion in value between men and women.

When housework becomes too much, budget for a professional

While doing household work yourself can translate to serious savings, chores shouldn’t get in the way of your personal or professional development. If you’re one of many Americans spending hours each day toiling away on housework, it may be time to bring in professional help.

Here are some ways to make the cost of outsourcing household chores better fit into your budget:

  • Try the 50/30/20 budget: Under this budgeting rule, you’ll put 50% of your income toward “needs” (this includes mortgage, groceries, utilities), 30% toward “wants” (cellphone bill, gym membership, dining out) and 20% toward savings and debt repayment. If you can, allocate a housekeeper or landscaper into your wants budget.
  • Refinance your car or house: You may be able to secure a lower interest rate on your auto loan or mortgage by refinancing. Lower monthly payments would allow you to make room in your monthly budget to afford help at home. Borrowers with excellent credit may get some of the lowest interest rates, while subprime borrowers will see higher interest rates. Refinancing is generally a great option when you can secure a lower interest rate than what you’re already paying.
  • Consolidate your debt: If you’re making significant payments toward multiple debts, it can freeze up a lot of your income. You could consider consolidating debt at a lower interest rate with a personal loan so you can develop a set budget and free up cash each month.

Methodology

To estimate the value of American’s household chores we first looked at how much time they spent doing each activity. The BLS compiles this data through the American Time Use Survey.

We then estimated how much it would cost to replace this labor with that of a professional. For example, we replaced cleaning with occupation maids and housekeeping cleaners, food preparation with chefs and animal and pet care with nonfarm animal caretakers.

Next, we multiplied the daily hours spent on each activity by the hourly earnings for people who do that work professionally. That gave us the daily replacement value of household chores. We then multiplied that number by 365 to get the annual value. To find the total country value, we multiplied the annual value by the population over the age of 15.

Data for time spent on activities and hourly earnings of professionals comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of men and women over the age of 15 comes from the Census Bureau. All data is from 2018.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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News

Americans Racked Up $1,325 in Holiday Debt in 2019 — And Most Won’t Pay It Off on Time

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Written By

When the holiday season ends, you take down your festive decorations, ease back into work and resume life as normal. But for many Americans who rack up debt during the most wonderful time of the year, the holidays aren’t over until the bills are paid off.

Americans took on an average of $1,325 of holiday debt in 2019, according to a survey conducted by MagnifyMoney. The vast majority of respondents won’t be paying off their holiday debt by January.

Key findings

  • 44% of consumers took on debt this holiday season, and the majority (57%) didn’t plan on doing so. Fifty-two percent of Generation Xers and 50% of millennials added holiday debt, versus just 36% of baby boomers.
  • Gen Xers added the most debt — a whopping $2,076 on average. Millennials racked up $1,215, and baby boomers added $606.
  • 78% of those with holiday debt won’t be able to pay it off come January, including 15% who are only making minimum payments.
  • 58% of indebted consumers are stressed about their holiday debt. Millennials and Gen Xers report being the most stressed at 68% and 63%, respectively. Baby boomers are the least stressed, at 37%.
  • 70% of those with holiday debt owe money on their credit cards. Twenty-one percent used a store-branded credit card (respondents could select more than one option), while 20% used a personal loan and 12% borrowed money from friends or family to fund their holiday spending.
  • 40% plan to consolidate debt and/or shop around for a good balance transfer interest rate, but more than half won’t even try. Of those that won’t try, 20% think it’s not necessary, and 18% don’t want to deal with another bank.
  • Those who added holiday debt said the most expensive gift they purchased was either for their child (36%) or their spouse/significant other (32%).

Holiday debt is up 8% from last year

It should come as no surprise that consumers are taking on holiday debt again, considering our survey findings from years past. Holiday debt rose 8% this year, from $1,230 in 2018 to $1,325 in 2019. Since we first conducted this survey in 2015, holiday debt has risen 34%.

For the purposes of our survey, holiday debt includes any seasonal costs, such as Christmas gift-giving, plane tickets for traveling home or groceries for Hanukkah dinner. Gift-giving (and, by extension, retail spending) is a large component of holiday debt. The industry trends of rising retail sales may contribute to the increase in holiday debt represented in our survey, which was fielded from Dec. 20 to Dec. 23.

Holiday retail sales grew 3.4% this year, while online sales grew 18.8%, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse™, a market intelligence service. SpendingPulse monitored sales activity from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 across Mastercard accounts to compile its data.

Gen Xers took on the most holiday debt at $2,000+

Debt amounts were clearly split among generational lines:

  • Baby boomers: $606
  • Gen Xers: $2,076
  • Millennials: $1,215

Keep in mind that just because baby boomers only took on $606 in holiday debt this year doesn’t mean that they spent less this holiday season. It just means that they assumed less debt in doing so. They could have saved throughout the year or dipped into cash or savings to pay for holiday-related expenses.

Besides taking on less debt, older generations are more likely to pay off their debts sooner than their younger counterparts. Baby boomers are most likely to pay off their debt within one month, while millennials are most likely to just pay the minimum balance on their accounts.

Across gender lines, men were heavier spenders. Men assumed $1,450 in holiday debt, about $250 more than women.

78% of holiday shoppers with debt won’t pay it off by January

A large majority of respondents (78%) said that they won’t pay off their holiday debt by January. This is a daunting prospect for credit card and store card users in particular, who will accrue interest unless they pay off their purchases when the statement balance is due.

Just 22% of respondents will pay off their debt within one month.

It could take years to pay off holiday debt

For the 15% of consumers who will only make the minimum payments on their holiday purchases, it could take months or years to pay off that debt. These borrowers will also pay the most interest on their purchases in the long run.

According to MagnifyMoney’s credit card payoff calculator, it would take more than five years to pay off $1,325 making minimum monthly payments of $30 with an interest rate of 15.1%. Plus, you’d be paying more than $600 in interest by the time you’re done paying down debt, years after the holiday has ended.

We used 15.1% because that is the average interest rate across all open accounts, according to the Federal Reserve. But holiday debt could take even longer to pay off (and cost more), since 36% of survey respondents said they’re paying an interest rate of 20% or more.

Credit cards were widely used again this holiday season

American families rely on credit cards to make Christmas miracles happen. Seventy percent of respondents funded their holiday spending with credit cards, about the same as last year. Plus, 21% of those surveyed used store cards.

1 in 5 financed holiday spending with a personal loan

More people are leaning on personal loans to cushion their holiday spending. Twenty percent of respondents used personal loans this holiday season, up from 14% in 2018 and 9% in 2017. So in the span of two seasons, consumers doubled their holiday usage of personal loans.

Consumers still favor store cards, despite high APRs

The use of store cards more than doubled from 10% in 2018 to 21% this year, despite the fact that these cards typically carry higher APRs.

The average store credit card APR is 25.41%, according to CompareCards, which, like MagnifyMoney, is owned by LendingTree. So consumers who don’t pay off their holiday debt by the time the statement is due risk paying much more than the value of the items they bought if they don’t pay off the store card on time.

Holiday debt is a source of stress for many

A LendingTree survey released in early December found that 61% of Americans were dreading the upcoming holidays due to spending. About the same amount of our survey’s respondents (58%) reported being stressed about their holiday debt.

Millennials and Gen Xers reported the most debt-related stress at 68% and 63%, respectively, compared with just 37% of baby boomers. It’s worth reiterating that baby boomers have the least amount of debt, at $606, perhaps contributing to lower stress levels.

Despite the fact that many spenders are stressed about their holiday debt, more than half of them won’t try to consolidate debt or shop around for a better interest rate. Many simply don’t want to bother with another bank.

Methodology

MagnifyMoney commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,120 American consumers. The survey was fielded Dec. 20-23, 2019.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.