: What to get mom for Mother’s Day — how about more financial security?


More people may be mulling a return to the conventional Mother’s Day restaurant outing this year as local economies keep re-opening, buoyed by rising vaccination rates and improved consumer confidence.

A new survey suggests an even better gift would be offering mom more financial peace of mind — but it’s likely there’s a dining splurge coming too.

Some 59% of mothers say they are optimistic about their finances versus 74% of fathers, according to MassMutual’s Spring 2021 Consumer Spending & Saving Index.

Half of the fathers participating in the 2,000-person poll released Thursday said they increased their savings during the past three months, versus one-quarter of mothers. And 18% of fathers said they’ve enjoyed a promotion or salary bump in the past three months, compared to 10% of mothers.

The disparity underscores a prevalent point in the pandemic: It’s been especially hard for women, who’ve had to cope with outsized job loss while shouldering most of the child-care duties for kids learning remotely.

Women have had cope with outsized job loss during COVID, while shouldering most of the child-care duties for kids learning remotely.

Across the world, women missed out on at least $800 billion in wages, according to recent estimates from Oxfam.

In a hint on the spread of work-life duties, a roughly even amount of mothers and fathers say they are taking on some or most of household and childcare duties. Achieving a work-life balance amid the pandemic was the top-identified challenge (19%) for parents, and many (52%) said they are spending more money on family-related costs because of the pandemic.

There are surely weak spots, but the MassMutual survey suggests there’s optimism and encouraging signs, too. It applies to parents — 68% say they are optimistic about the future — and it also goes for big-picture trends on consumer saving and spending.

57% of people surveyed said they have saved at least $750 in the past three months, up from the 37% in February who said they saved at least that much. 45% of people said they needed to dip into their savings, versus 51% in February.

In the current poll, the most-reported savings goals included retirement, vacations, a new car and home purchases or renovations.

Poll participants are saving for the future, but also planning to spend now.

Working mothers were more likely to face job loss while being less likely to get a raise in the past three months.

For those who are planning to spend more in the coming months, they are likely to do it by traveling, shopping and eating. Deep in the grips of pandemic last year, those things seemed like a distant memory.

42% of the people planning to spend more say they will do it at restaurants, as well as traveling; 47% say they’ll spend more on shopping.

That bullish attitude fits with other recent gauges on consumer outlooks. Consumer confidence jumped to a 14-month high in April. Consumer spending increased 4.2% in March, beating economists’ forecasts of a 4% rise.

“It’s heartening to see that overall optimism among Americans is increasing, but working parents still face an increasingly complex balancing act,” said Amanda Wallace, MassMutual’s head of insurance operations.

Working mothers were more likely to face job loss while being less likely to get a raise in the past three months, and the dynamic is cutting into women’s optimism and savings accounts, Wallace noted. “Ahead of Mother’s Day, it’s important for businesses, communities and loved ones to acknowledge these challenges and provide as much support as possible to working moms in particular.”

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