Mothers don’t have time to save

Some women may be able to fold laundry with one hand and go online to buy a guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) with the other. But generally, mothers’ workload and mental burden are so heavy that they lack time to save and invest, which harms their financial health.

This is the logical but discouraging finding of a new robust 149-page study carried out by the Chamber of Financial Security (CSF) in collaboration with the National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS), ÉducÉpargne and Léger.

Logical, because it takes time to develop financial literacy, to make an appointment with a financial professional, to plan your savings and investments and to make informed choices for retirement or other projects such as purchasing a property.

Unfortunately, time is a limited resource. And partnered mothers whose children are of school age have less free time than men.

They devote 8.4 hours more each week to paid or unpaid work, according to the most recent data from Statistics Canada. This difference of 1.2 hours per day is not without financial consequences.

Moreover, knowing how women and men allocate their time between various activities during a typical day is “essential to understanding gender inequality in society,” Statistics Canada wisely warns. .

The CSF study confirms that equity in terms of domestic and educational tasks has not yet been achieved within couples. More than three in five respondents (61%) say they spend more time on it than their partner. This leaves less time and “mental space” for other activities such as managing your money.

In her daily life, Annick Kwetcheu Gamo notices another impact of mothers’ lack of time on their finances. The most obvious: they “tend to delegate” decisions relating to money to their spouse.


Annick Kwetcheu Gamo, specialist in financial education

“When it comes to wealth planning, we lose interest instead of prioritizing,” summarizes this personal finance specialist who founded Code F. Financial health for all!, a company that offers financial coaching.

In other words, “women manage the budget and men manage the investments”. It’s stereotypical, it’s gendered, but that’s how it is.

For INRS professor and holder of the Money, Inequalities and Society Chair, Hélène Belleau, the reasons are “mechanical”. When you have less money, it is normal to not have much interest in investing and to rely on your spouse who has developed some expertise in this area.

Time doesn’t explain everything. Women encounter more obstacles to saving: lower salary, parental leave, part-time work for the good of the family, poor organization of finances within the couple.

Thus, even with the same salary as their partner, more fathers have the necessary room to save.


Simon Houle, financial planner

“A phenomenon that I often see is that expenses are split 50-50, even if one spouse earns much more than the other,” relates Simon Houle, portfolio manager at the Onyx Group, iA Private Management of heritage. This is the ideal scenario to impoverish the poorer of the two. No less than 60% of women say their partner earns more.

As a result, more than half of fathers aged 25 to 54 say they have more savings than their partner, a figure corroborated by women. In certain age groups, the proportion reaches a staggering 66%.

In these circumstances, it should come as no surprise that 69% of women fear running out of income in retirement, a significantly higher percentage than that of men (56%).


Hélène Belleau, professor at INRS

Hélène Belleau also deplores the “unsuitable” tax rules which harm women financially. Examples: maternity leave leads to the loss of RRSP contribution rights, tax credits that are based on family income, “as if the money were merged and distributed equitably” within the couple. The State also considers that the new spouse of a single mother will contribute to the expenses of her children, which causes her to lose part of her family allowances.

The proverbial risk tolerance – which is not imaginary, far from it – is added to the equation.

Basically, mothers will prefer CPGs, while many fathers will not fear betting on cryptocurrencies, illustrates Annick Kwetcheu Gamo. “I’m generalizing, but women focus on preserving assets, while men look for titles that make a difference to beat the index,” adds Simon Houle. Women end up with less risky investments with less growth potential, which can hurt throughout retirement.

If women are more worried about losing money, it may be because they have less. “We need to understand why they are cautious. Would a man in the same situation as a woman react the same way? », asks Hélène Belleau. Excellent question.

Sexist clichés are stubborn. And maybe you’re tired, like me, of reading about it. Unfortunately, as long as tax rules, the job market and financial education have not enabled women to achieve equity with men in matters of money, the subject will remain worrying enough to be topical.


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