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The States With the Hardest Working Women

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Americans take pride in their work ethic, but do women in some states put more hours into taking care of their finances, families, homes and communities?

To find out, we analyzed microdata from the American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which asks respondents how many minutes they spent performing different kinds of activities during the previous workday. We averaged the responses of women in the categories across non-leisure activities, which include: the maintenance of the home, work or career, caring for family members or other community members, shopping and volunteer activities.

Because not every person participates in every activity, the time spent on these activities may seem low. For example, the average hours spent working across the states is about three hours – a workday that few will find familiar. That’s because not every woman works, and not every woman with a job works full-time or works Monday through Friday. These numbers also account for the fact that plenty of working people go through stretches of unemployment or underemployment.

For that reason, we also looked at the breakdown of the work status of women in each state. Overall, we expect that women who didn’t spend the previous day at a job spent more time doing other things, such as shopping for their households or volunteering.

This is most likely an understatement of how much time women are spending working, because we didn’t include every possible activity — such as time spent on school work, time spent hiring services, or time spent on self-care — and because some respondents may have taken the day off, or even be retired.

Our analysis revealed that depending on regional cultural norms and employment opportunities, the hardest working women in America spend their time serving their families and communities in diverse ways.

Key takeaways

  • Women in North Dakota are the hardest working in America, spending an average of 8.9 hours a day on non-leisure activities.
  • Women in Washington, D.C. and Vermont take the second and third spots, with averages of 8.3 and 8.2 hours, respectively.
  • Women in Arkansas spend the least time on non-leisure activities, at an average of 6 hours a day.
  • Women in Alabama, West Virginia and Louisiana follow closely, each with an average of 6.1 hours.
  • Women in Washington, D.C. and the Dakotas are the most likely to work full time and women in Utah, West Virginia and Idaho are the least likely.
  • Women in Hawaii are the most likely to work for a full year and women Alaska are the least likely.
  • Women in Vermont spend the most time volunteering and women in Montana spend the least.
  • Alaskan women spend the most time on housework (3.7 hours), while women in Washington, D.C. spend the least (1.3 hours). (But they spend the most time at work).

States with the hardest working women

1. North Dakota

While the women of North Dakota may not spend the most time in the workplace, they’re pretty darn close. They spend 4.6 hours per weekday at work versus Washington, D.C.’s average of 4.9 hours. However, in North Dakota, women spend more time at other labor- and service-related tasks in a capacity which their cosmopolitan counterparts in the nation’s capital do not.

Spending more time at volunteer efforts, household tasks and caring for family members, North Dakota’s women come out on top as the hardest working women in America, putting in an average of 8.9 hours per weekday across activities.

This study isn’t the first of ours where North Dakota broke the top 5. In our ranking of the happiest states, North Dakota came in at No. 5.

2. District of Columbia

Clocking in at 8.3 hours per weekday spent on non-leisure activities, the women of Washington, D.C. are generally career-oriented. (Notably, Washington, D.C. landed the top spot in our ranking of the best cities for working women). Washington, D.C. is the only area we’re measuring, however; it’s essentially a metro rather than an entire state, which may skew how we view the data. The population is more urban and suburban than rural, which may lead to different cultural norms surrounding career expectations and the availability of jobs in the first place.

Women in the District of Columbia spend the least amount of time on housework when compared to other women across the country, and also spend comparatively very little time volunteering. They do have the unfortunate honor of spending the most time in the car in order to get these tasks done, falling behind only the women of Wyoming. (While in Wyoming you’re likely to drive long distances with little traffic in order to get to work, the beltway in DC Is the exact opposite: You’ll more likely to spend a lot of time sitting in gridlock to travel shorter distances than you are in other parts of the country.)

3. Vermont

Women in Vermont may not spend as much time at their nine-to-five (3.5 hours per day) as their peers in North Dakota (4.6 hours per day) and Washington, D.C. (4.9 hours per day) but they do spend a significant amount of their time volunteering (31 minutes per day) and caring for those outside of their own family (15 minutes per weekday).

Travel between daily activities is also a prominent time-consuming task for women of Vermont. With 55 minutes per weekday spent commuting between different non-leisure tasks, the state is second only to Washington, D.C. and Wyoming in terms of commute times.

4. Alaska

The women of Alaska spend dramatically more time taking care of the home than women in other states — nearly four hours per weekday. With an additional hour spent on housework per day than any other state, Alaskan women are the keepers of the homefront.

Women in Alaska also spend more time commuting between non-leisure tasks than most (54 minutes per weekday), though not more than the women of Vermont, Wyoming and Washington, D.C.

5.  Nebraska

Nebraska women spend almost as much time keeping house (2.5 hours per weekday) as they do in the workforce (3.2 hours per weekday). Time spent volunteering (20 minutes per weekday), commuting (42 minutes per day) and caring for family members (25 minutes per weekday) might not be as high as in some of the other states on this list, but cumulatively, they are enough to get the hardworking women of Nebraska into our top 5.

Hardest working women: Full rankings

Want to see where your state ranks? Here are the full rankings for America’s hardest working women.

A closer look at women in the workplace

Women work hard across all sectors, picking up the slack not only when it comes to earning an income, but also stepping up when the home needs tending to or a family member needs one-on-one care.

All of this work is important, but if you want to see the raw numbers concerning only hours spent in the traditional workplace, here is how the states rank:

Managing your money

Balancing the demands of womanhood is no easy feat. While cultural norms are changing, women are still largely expected to serve in unpaid capacities, such as housekeeper, personal care assistant and personal shopper. When you add employment on top of this, it can be a lot to handle.

While trying to juggle it all, there’s one task that always needs to be on your priority list: Your personal finances. Whether you’re in D.C. and working in a full-time capacity or struggling to find work in West Virginia, you’re going to need to budget. The tools outlined here help automate the budgeting process, saving you time as you evaluate what you can and cannot afford in your busy, day-to-day life.

If you’ve gone a while without budgeting, or you are simply in a bad financial situation due to lack of local employment opportunities, there’s a good chance you’re sitting in some debt. If that debt has become too much for you to handle or is sitting on a high-interest credit card, your financial situation is likely to get worse rather than better. One solution to this problem is debt consolidation.

However you choose to manage your finances and balancethem with other priorities, take time to appreciate the hard work you put in day to day.

Methodology

Using microdata from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, analysts created statewide averages for female for the years 2015 through 2017 in the following categories:

  • Household tasks
  • Caring for family members
  • Caring for non-family members
  • Work and work-related activities
  • Consumer shopping
  • Volunteering
  • The sum of time spent traveling for all the activities above

The work status of women in each state was derived from the Census Bureau’s 2017 5-Year American Community Survey and is limited to women between the ages of 16 and 64.

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.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne here

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Life Events, Mortgage

Don’t Apply for New Credit Before Your Mortgage Closes

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.

Disclosure : By clicking “See Offers” you’ll be directed to our parent company, LendingTree. Based on your creditworthiness you may be matched with up to five different lenders.

Purchase agreement for house

When you are in the process of buying a home, it’s easy to get ahead of yourself. You start shopping for all the furnishings you’ll need, lured by all the “same-as-cash” credit offers you’ll see at home-improvement stores, furniture retailers, and bed and bath shops.

The 10% discount you get by signing up might be a great savings for that purchase, but it could also cost you your mortgage, if you haven’t closed yet.

Lenders perform a variety of checks on your accounts up until the day of your closing. Any changes to your income, credit or money in the bank could not only delay your closing — it could turn a loan approval into a denial.

We’ll discuss why you shouldn’t apply for new credit before your loan closes, and suggest what to do if you already did.

Why opening new credit before closing is bad

Mortgage approval is contingent on your financial information from the day you submit the application until the day the house is recorded into your name. Many first-time homebuyers don’t realize the verification process is ongoing, even after you get the initial OK. Lenders will even double-check your employment and credit — the two biggest factors affecting the decision to lend you money — right before closing, and in some cases even the day of closing.

Below are some of the reasons why applying for new credit before closing could create problems for you before closing.

Your debt-to-income ratio could rise too high

Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is a measure of the total debt you owe divided by your before-tax income. Depending on the lending program you apply for, the DTI ratio maximum is anywhere from 41% to around 50%.

Your loan officer won’t usually go over what your DTI ratio is — if you’ve gotten a loan approval, you can safely assume you meet the guidelines. However, you may be right on the borderline of the maximum for your mortgage; if a new credit account balance pops up, the resulting monthly payment could you push you over the limit.

You could get a new monthly payment on your report

Many retail home goods stores offer “No payment due for 12 to 24 months” credit lines, giving buyers the impression that there will be no payment counted against them since it is the same as a cash purchase if you pay off the balance within the specified time period. However, these accounts don’t mean “no payment” to a mortgage lender.

If the creditor doesn’t report a monthly payment, the underwriter will have to calculate an estimated minimum, which may be as high as 5% of the balance of the account — so that $2,500 furniture account could add a $125 per month payment to your total debt, even if you aren’t required to make a payment to the creditor for 12 to 24 months on a “same as cash” incentive offer.

Your credit score could drop

It can take a while to find a home, and credit reports are generally only good for 90 days. If you don’t find a home and close within that time frame, your lender will have to pull a completely new credit report.

If you’ve racked up some credit cards or even inquired about new credit several times, your score could easily drop. The lower your score, the higher your rate will be, and even if you’ve locked in your interest rate, if your score drops because you charged up new credit, you’ll be stuck with whatever the rate and costs are for the most current credit score.

You might have to document your assets again

Don’t be surprised if a lender suddenly asks for some updated bank statements if you recently applied for new credit. Some borrowers are given bad advice to charge up their credit cards to use for a down payment, but credit cards have never been an acceptable source of a down payment.

The only type of borrowed money you can use would be against a fixed asset like a car or boat, and even then you’ll have to provide a lot of documentation to show how much the asset was worth, confirm you owned it at the time of the loan, and show the transfer of all the money from the lender.

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How lenders track your credit during the loan process

When you get approved for a home loan, mortgage companies are committing to lending you hundreds of thousands of dollars payable over a very long time, in most cases 30 years. Because of that, they need to make especially sure that at the time they make the loan, they can demonstrate that you have the ability to repay it.

If for some reason they make a loan you can’t afford, they face consequences from regulatory agencies, and ultimately lose money incurring the legal costs of a foreclosure. That’s why they have policies that pay special attention to how you manage your credit during the loan process.

Initial credit pull

When you apply for a home loan, one of the first things you lender will do is run an initial credit report to take a look at how you manage your credit. Sometimes the information on the credit bureaus can lag a few months, so if you recently applied for credit, make sure the balances and payments are reflected on the loan application you receive from your loan officer.

If not, provide your most current statement so the loan officer can accurately pre-qualify you for a mortgage.

Pre-closing soft pull

Once your loan approval is provided, there will be conditions that need to be met before your closing papers can be scheduled. Your loan officer will let you know if you need to provide anything, such as updated pay stubs or bank statements, before closing, and you’ll need to finalize things like your homeowner’s insurance company.

However, there are things that will be happening behind the scenes that you need to know about. One of the most important is the “pre-closing soft pull.”

A “soft-pull” is simply an update to track any activity on your credit since the initial approval. If your balance rises for something small, like charging your appraisal fee to a credit card, you won’t have anything to worry about.

What to do if you’ve already applied for new credit before closing

If you’ve already applied for new debt before your closing, don’t panic — just get the terms of the loan as soon as you can to your loan officer. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll know if you have to take any drastic measures to fix any qualifying issues that may come up.

If there is a problem, you can take the following immediate steps.

Contact your loan officer immediately

Lenders are in the business of making loans, and the more proactive you are about communicating about any changes to your credit, income or money you have for a down payment, the sooner they can come up with a solution to keep your purchase from falling apart.

Get the terms of your new payment in writing

If the account is brand new, you’ll need to get something in writing as soon as possible that verifies what your new monthly payment will be. If you opened a deferred payment account, at least get something showing the balance so the underwriter can calculate the minimum payment that will be counted against you.

The lender will need to get it added to your credit report as soon as possible, and that process can take several days, since they have to coordinate with a third-party credit reporting agency.

Be prepared to pay it back and close it out

If you don’t qualify because of the new debt, the best plan is to pay if off and close it out, or return the items and get as much of a refund as you can. If you don’t have the assets to do that, you may have to make a painful phone call to a relative to get them to gift you money to pay it back, or you may be living on that brand new couch in their living room when your home purchase loan is declined.

You may have to switch loan programs or pay a higher rate

As mentioned above, not all DTI ratio requirements are the same. If you’re approved for a conventional loan, you’ll have a hard stop at a 50% DTI ratio, and even a fraction of a percentage over that will result in a loan denial.

You may have to switch to a more lenient loan program like the one the FHA offers, but that will mean a new approval, and potentially a new appraisal that meets the more stringent property guidelines required by the FHA. That is also the case if your score drops after updating an outdated credit report — conventional loans won’t be approvable below a 620 credit scores, while FHA will give you flexibility down to 580.

Either way, be prepared to jump through some extra hoops to undo the damage that applying for credit before closing can do to your loan approval.

Final thoughts: Avoid opening new credit until keys are in your hands

The best rule of thumb is to limit your credit use until you’ve got confirmation that the title company has recorded you as the owner of your new home, and you have the keys in your hand. If you have an emergency like a car that breaks down, or incur a major medical expense that you don’t have the cash to cover, talk to your loan officer about strategies to avoid any last minute crisis with your home loan closing.

This article contains links to LendingTree, our parent company.

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.

Denny Ceizyk
Denny Ceizyk |

Denny Ceizyk is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Denny here

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How Credit Report Disputes Can Sabotage Your Chance for a Mortgage

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.

Disclosure : By clicking “See Offers” you’ll be directed to our parent company, LendingTree. Based on your creditworthiness you may be matched with up to five different lenders.

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Mortgage underwriting can feel like it’s taking a lifetime when it’s standing between you and your dream home. But your lender wants to make sure that you’ll be able to repay the loan, so they’ll take the time to go over your credit history with a proverbial magnifying glass.

Before you get to underwriting, you’ll want to make sure you’re a creditworthy borrower. This means maintaining a good payment history, paying down debt and disputing any errors on your credit report.

However, credit report disputes can impact your ability to get a mortgage if they’re still pending when you’re applying for a loan. This guide will explain how and why.

Why your credit reports and scores matter

One of the first things lenders look at is your credit report, which provides information about your credit history. It details whether you’ve made on-time payments on credit cards, loans and other accounts.

The information included in this report is summed up by a credit score that generally ranges between 300 and 850. The higher your score, the more creditworthy you are perceived to be.

Although credit scores aren’t the only factor that determines whether you’ll qualify for a mortgage, your credit score heavily influences the mortgage interest rate you receive. The highest scores qualify borrowers for the best mortgage rates.

Before you begin the homebuying process, it’s smart to review your credit report and have a copy handy. You can request a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, at AnnualCreditReport.com.

It’s critical to arm yourself with this information in advance. That gives you the opportunity to dispute any inaccuracies you’ve discovered and clean up your report.

What is a credit report dispute?

Credit report inaccuracies are relatively common. Inaccurate information can happen for a variety of reasons — a credit card payment being applied to the wrong account or duplicate accounts in your report giving the impression that you carry more debt than you actually do, for example.

Not only can errors harm your credit score, but they can prevent you from qualifying for a new credit account, such as an auto or home loan. That’s why it’s important to regularly keep track of the information found in your credit reports.

When you review your credit report and find an error, you have the opportunity to formally dispute it under the Fair Credit Reporting Act This is the first step to take to get the error corrected or removed.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to file a credit dispute with all three credit reporting agencies online.

How to file a credit report dispute

If you’ve found an error on your credit report, take the following steps to dispute it:

  1. Provide your contact information.
  2. Identify the items in your credit report that are inaccurate.
  3. Explain why you’re disputing the info and include documentation to support your dispute.
  4. Request a correction or deletion.

You’ll also want to reach out to the creditor that is reporting inaccurate information to the credit bureaus. Let them know you’re disputing the information and provide them the same documentation you’re giving to the bureaus.

In many cases, the credit bureaus investigate disputes within 30 days, according to myFICO.com.

However, many disputes can go unresolved for long periods of time, which can be troublesome for consumers applying for a mortgage. Many loan applicants don’t realize an open credit report dispute can raise a red flag to lenders and may even prevent mortgage approval.

When to file a credit report dispute

You’ll want to file a dispute as soon as you spot an error on any of your credit reports, but if you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future, it’s best to exercise caution when filing disputes, especially right before you apply for a mortgage.

Although the dispute investigation can wrap up in 30 days, it could last as long as 90 days, so it’s best to avoid filing new disputes a few months prior to starting the homebuying process.

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How mortgage lenders view credit disputes

When a dispute is filed, credit reporting agencies are required to label the item as “in dispute.” The dispute itself doesn’t impact your FICO Score. However, your score may temporarily deflate or inflate while the disputed items are being investigated.

Mortgage lenders know credit reports with disputed items don’t paint the most accurate picture of a consumer’s creditworthiness and many require this status be removed before approving a mortgage application. This leaves some consumers with a difficult decision to make — accept costly credit report errors or delay applying for a loan until disputes have been resolved.

Here’s how lenders who provide conventional and FHA loans consider credit report disputes when determining whether a consumer qualifies for a mortgage.

Conventional loans

Both government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have automated underwriting systems that alert lenders to existing credit report disputes. These entities don’t issue loans, but buy mortgages from lenders that follow their rules.

Fannie Mae’s system initially reviews all accounts on a borrower’s credit report, even those that are being disputed. If the borrower would be approved for the loan even with the account in question, the loan moves forward. But if the disputed account would push the borrower into the “rejection” category, the system will direct the lender to investigate whether the dispute is valid.

Lenders using Freddie Mac’s system are required to confirm the accuracy of disputed accounts. The borrower would need to have the accounts corrected before the loan can move forward.

FHA loans

FHA-approved lenders require borrowers with disputed delinquent accounts on their credit report to provide an explanation and supporting documentation about their dispute. If the account has an outstanding balance of more than $1,000, the loan must be manually underwritten, which means the loan officer has to review the loan application and supporting documents outside of the automated system.

The loan officer goes over the paperwork included in the borrower’s file very closely to determine their risk of mortgage default and whether they qualify for the loan program that they’re applying.

Disputed medical accounts are excluded from consideration, but disputed accounts that are paid on time must be factored into the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio.

How to remove a lingering credit report dispute

Gaining access to a new credit report with updated information is not an option for the borrower if the creditor won’t correct the information. And when a consumer files a complaint with the credit reporting agencies, the agencies will often defer to the creditor.

Just as you’ve reached out to your creditor and the credit reporting bureaus to file your dispute, you’ll want to take the same action to remove it. Contact the creditor directly and request that they update the account information to show that it’s no longer being disputed.

You may also want to reach out to Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to request dispute removal, but keep in mind they may also reach out to the creditor who is reporting the disputed account. See the FICO website for more information about contacting each bureau’s dispute department.

The bottom line

Dealing with an unresolved credit report dispute can turn into a consumer nightmare. Even if you’ve followed best practices, you may still be unhappy with the results.

Fortunately, you can still submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They will forward your complaint directly to the company in dispute and work to get a response from them. Another option is to seek guidance from a consumer advocate or an attorney. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling may be a helpful place to start.

Credit reports and scores have such a strong influence on lifelong financial health, so the most effective defense is to be proactive about making sure yours are in the best shape possible. Regularly monitoring your credit profile and working to fix inaccuracies before applying for a mortgage is a good game plan to prevent major problems as you embark on the homebuying process.

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.

Crissinda Ponder
Crissinda Ponder |

Crissinda Ponder is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Crissinda here