MONEY fix my mix

Get Free Help with Your Investing Challenges

Pile of money
B.A.E. Inc.—Alamy

MONEY is looking for people who are willing to share the details of their portfolio in exchange for a free workup with a financial planner.

Has the volatile market caused you to flee stocks for the security of cash and bonds?

Are you close to 100% in stocks but thinking now it might be time to dial back?

Would you like to rework your investments to generate more income from dividends and bonds?

If so, we’d like to help.

For an upcoming issue, MONEY is looking for people who’d be willing to share their portfolio and financial situation in the magazine, in exchange for having a top-shelf financial planner examine their investments from top to bottom and come up with a full and personalized financial plan.

You must be comfortable sharing details of your personal and financial life (including your real names) and being photographed for the story.

If interested, please fill out the form below. Please tell us a little about your investment challenges, and also include a few details about your family’s finances, including income, approximate savings, and debts. All of this information will be kept confidential until we talk and you agree to appear in the story.

Everybody has an investment challenge, so let’s hear yours!

MONEY pay gap

Why Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella STILL Has It Wrong on Raises for Women

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella
Manish Swarup—AP

The exec has taken back his comments that we should count on karma to boost our salary, but that doesn't mean he gets what it means to be a female at work today.

Easy for a dude to say that women should have “faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.” Especially a dude who makes $7.6 million and sits at the top of one of America’s largest companies.

But Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who made that comment in answer to a question about how women should ask for a salary increase—in front of a room full of women at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing on Thursday—at least seems to have realized the error of his statement.

On his blog last night, he acknowledged:

I answered that question completely wrong. Without a doubt I wholeheartedly support programs at Microsoft and in the industry that bring more women into technology and close the pay gap. I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work. And when it comes to career advice on getting a raise when you think it’s deserved, Maria’s [Maria Klawe, computer scientist and moderator] advice was the right advice. If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.

Great that he owned the mistake. But what’s worse, the fact that he didn’t realize that women are paid 22 cents less on the dollar than our male peers—or the fact that he still doesn’t realize it’s not as simple as “just asking” for us?

Yes, We Pay a Penalty for Not Asking

Assuming you care remotely about women’s issues, you’ve seen the research showing that few women negotiate salaries. (By the by, it goes all the way up the ladder. Nadella’s fellow C-suiter GM’s Mary Barra noted at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit that she had never in her career asked for a raise. The emcee then polled the audience on how many of them also had never asked, and “the majority of the conference’s high-powered female attendees raised their hands,” according to Fortune‘s Broadsheet.)

Our reticence has a compounding effect over our careers. By not asking right off the bat, Carnegie Mellon economics professor Linda Babcock has said, we leave lost earnings “anywhere between $1 million and $1.5 million” on the table.

But We Pay a Penalty for Asking, Too

Yet Babcock’s research found that we may be on to something with our sense of caution. Simply stating the case for why we deserve a raise doesn’t tend to get women to the same result as it does men. In fact, it can actually hamper our career progress.

For a study published in 2005, Babcock and Hannah Riley Bowles, a senior lecturer in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, asked participants to watch videos of men and women asking for a raise. The guys and gals in the video used the exact same scripts.

The result? Participants liked the men and agreed to give them the bump in pay, but found the women too aggressive. While they gave her the raise, they did not like her. In particular, male study participants were less willing to want to work with the female negotiator.

We know that being well liked—a quality we women struggle with starting from the first grade-school birthday party we’re not invited to—is also key to getting ahead. So we’re caught between a high heel and a hard place.

Or, as Joan Williams, founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law, put it in The Huffington Post,

If women act too feminine and don’t ask, they end up with lower salaries. If they act too masculine and ask, then people don’t want to work with them. Women walk a tightrope between being too feminine and too masculine. Men don’t, which is one reason why office politics are trickier for women than for men.

So We Have to Give an Oscar-Winning Performance to Get What We Want

The research Babcock and Riley Bowles have done has found that women have to be more, well, “womanly” in their approach in order to get the raises and promotions that they deserve and come out the other side smelling like a rose.

You know—positive, solicitous, and putting others first. Less shark, more 1950s housewife.

Acknowledging herself that these findings are “depressing,” Babcock (along with Riley Bowles) concluded that being collaborative—trying to take the perspective of the company and hiring manager and using “we” statements instead of “I”—tends to be more effective than other approaches. They’ve also emphasized trying to be “authentic” by using language that feels comfortable.

That doesn’t feel the same as “just ask”—it requires us to act a part when what we simply want is for our managers to respect us as workers and people in a gender-neutral way.

We want to be able to walk in and say, “I brought in $2 million in business this year and am underpaid relative to my position,” and be better paid and just as well liked at the end of it.

You know, like a dude.

Related:
5 Ways Women Can Close the Pay Gap for Themselves
When She Makes More: How to Level the Financial Playing Field

MONEY salary

5 Ways Women Can Close the Pay Gap for Themselves

woman standing at bottom of steps with man standing above her
iStock

New Census data found that women earn 78¢ to every $1 men do. These moves can help you get closer to even on your own paycheck.

If you have two X chromosomes and a job, the latest numbers on the wage gap will likely leave you feeling frustrated: Women make only 78¢ for every dollar a man makes, the Census just reported, marking all of a 1¢ improvement over 2012.

Meanwhile, Republican senators blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act this week, which called for greater salary transparency and would have required employers to be able to prove that wage differences were based on factors other than gender.

Overcoming the barriers to equal pay isn’t proving to be easy. And there are some factors we can’t move the needle on as individuals. For example, childbearing counts against us, in what economists have dubbed the “motherhood penalty.” We pay both a per-child wage penalty and also may be dunned for working fewer hours because of our caregiving responsibility. And then there’s straight-up discrimination, which is very hard to prove despite being so palpable to many of us at certain moments in our careers. (Perhaps this explains why one study found that 41% of the pay gap is unexplained!)

Closing the gap a penny at a time is still progress. But for those of you who don’t want to—or can’t—wait around until 2058 to see equal pay, here are five strategies to at least get you closer to even with your XY counterparts.

1. Negotiate smarter…

Working women have heard it all before: We’re not aggressive enough in asking for higher pay; we are bad at negotiating. But if do negotiate aggressively, well, that gets held against us.

But we’ve got to find a way to make it work for us if we want to get paid a fair wage.

So what can we do? Hannah Riley Bowles, a senior lecturer in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School who has done research on what makes women successful in negotiations, has found that being collaborative—using “we” and trying to take the perspective of the company and hiring manager—tends to be more effective than other approaches.

She also emphasizes authenticity, so try to come up with language that feels comfortable and natural for you to use.

2. …and from the outset.

A 2011 study by Catalyst tracked 3,300 high-performing students in M.B.A. programs as they began their careers, and found that while 47% of women and 52% of men had countered the initial offer made for their current job, only 31% of women vs. 50% of men had countered the offer for the first job they had out of grad school.

While it’s good that women are catching on to the importance of negotiating, we need to encourage them to do it sooner.

“Failing to negotiate your salary from the start is not only an initial mistake; it is one that will continue to follow you and will be compounded over the years, disadvantaging you throughout the remainder of your career. Every raise you get, every bonus you receive and even the number of stock options you are awarded, will be smaller because these amounts are normally determined as a percentage of your artificially low base salary,” wrote Lee Miller, author of A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating on six-figure job-search site TheLadders.

Say you started out $5,000 behind your male peer, making $40,000 vs. his $45,000. If you each got 3% raises for each of the next five years, you’d be making $46,371 vs. his $52,167, expanding the difference to $5,798 and you’d have given up $26,546 in income differential in those years.

The longer this goes on, the harder it is to catch up.

3. Push for promotions early on.

According to Payscale, “women’s pay growth stops outpacing men’s at around age 30, which is when college-educated women typically start having children.” Furthermore, women’s pay peaks at age 39 at $60,000, vs. $95,000 at age 48 for men.

That suggests that a smart move would be to try to move up the ladder before you decide to raise a family.

“How women negotiate their career paths is arguably a more important determinant of lifetime earnings than negotiating a little extra money,” Hannah Riley Bowles told The New York Times recently.

4. Work in a fairer field.

Part of the problem, according to Sarah Jane Glynn, associate director for women’s economic policy at the Center for American Progress, is that a large proportion of women are clustered in a relatively few fields: 44% are in 20 occupations. And typically within those professions, the majority of workers are women. As Glynn has written,

“Female-dominated industries pay lower wages than male-dominated industries requiring similar skill levels, and the effect is stronger in jobs that require higher levels of education.”

So just try for a higher-paying male-dominated field, right? That can help. Harvard labor economist Claudia Goldin found that, for college grads, moving into such a profession would eliminate an average 30% to 35% of the wage gap.

But that’s not always a home run. Goldin found that female aircraft pilots and financial advisors earn less on the dollar compared to male peers than the average worker, at 71% and 73% respectively.

Goldin did find that the pay gap is much smaller than the average in certain fields—including ad sales, dental hygiene, HR, chemistry, pharmacy, and computer programming. But she pegs the slim difference to the fact that these fields allow a specific kind of flexibility that allows one worker to easily sub out for another, if, say, someone has to stay home with a sick kid.

5. Toot your own horn.

That Catalyst study of M.B.A. grads found that, of those women who said they made their achievements known to others in the organization, 30% had greater compensation growth than peers who did not promote themselves.

Some of the qualities found in these folks: “ensuring their manager was aware of their accomplishments, seeking feedback and credit as
appropriate, and asking for a promotion when they felt it was deserved.”

Sounds easy enough on paper, but in real life, this kind of self-promotion isn’t always easy for women.

To make it more palatable, Laura Donovan of Levo League suggests being selective about the moments you do this (e.g. yes to scoring the $1 million client, no to pushing through the report that’s expected of you), choosing the right audience for your message (don’t blast the full staff), and focusing on facts rather than self-congratulation (“I just wanted you to know that we’ve signed the contract with Client Y, for $1 million over two years….”).

Also, focus on the upside: The Catalyst study suggested that self-promotion can help you gain sponsorship from important allies who can help you further advance in your career, and hopefully get you closer to closing the pay gap.

MONEY job search

5 Ways to Speed Up Your Job Search this Fall

Desperate to get out of your current gig? Use this data on the job market to help you find your next move—fast.

Even if you’ve had it up to here with your current job, you probably slowed your search for a new one during June, July, and August.

Between summer Fridays, long weekends, and week-long vacations—your own and those of your bosses—you likely found the situation just a little easier to swallow. Not that you’d have had much choice: In most industries, hiring activity is sluggish in the dog days of summer anyway.

Now that Labor Day has come and gone, though, you might be thinking about buckling down on your hunt for the red-hot opportunity. Good timing. Many fields experience a frenzy of hiring in the fall, as companies rush to use extra funds in personnel budgets by year’s end.

To put your search in overdrive, consider one of the following bold moves. You might be surprised at how soon you’re having that exit interview you’ve long been running through in your head.

1. Use the Most-Desired Keywords

Job listing aggregator Indeed.com reviews millions of online employment ads across thousands of sites to find common keywords. The 10 below are the fastest growing. So if you’ve got any of these skills already under your belt, wear them proudly in your résumé and cover letter as well. (And if you don’t have ‘em, ask around to see if it’s worth getting more experience in these areas.)

  1. HTML5
  2. MongoDB
  3. iOS
  4. Android
  5. Mobile App
  6. Puppet
  7. Hadoop
  8. jQuery
  9. PaaS
  10. Social Media

2. Go Where the Jobs Are

Picking up and moving isn’t an option for everyone. But for those who have the flexibility, relocating your career may pay off.

Job listing site CareerBuilder recently assessed total job growth for the 50 biggest U.S. metro areas between 2010 and 2013 versus the growth that would have been expected in the locations based on national trends to come up with what it called the “competitive effect.” Due to specialized industries, these locales had the greatest edge:

CITY # JOBS ADDED, 2010-2013 KEY HIRING INDUSTRIES
1 Houston, TX 250,607 oil and gas, mining, architectural and engineering services, education
2 Dallas, TX 221,161 commerical banking, computer systems, education, hospitals
3 San Francisco, CA 165,768 computer systems, Internet businesses, corporate management
4 Los Angeles, CA 283,664 TV/film, payroll and accounting, medical instruments, missile and aerospace manufacturing
5 Austin, TX 84,774 data processing/hosting, computer systems, scientific/technical consulting, semiconductors
6 Phoenix, AZ 124,501 higher education, commercial banking, professional organizations, semiconductors
7 Miami, FL 134,588 legal services, business support, freight transportation, payroll services, real estate
8 San Jose, CA 90,559 computer systems design, computer/semiconductor manufacturing, software publishing
9 Detroit, MI 125,330 motor vehicle manufacturing, engineering services and temporary help services
10 Riverside, CA 76,646 warehousing and storage, offices of physicians, and heavy and civil engineering

Alternately, you might focus your search on one of these cities, which Indeed.com found to have the greatest number of job listings per capita. You’ll notice a bit of overlap. Also worth noting: San Jose, which makes both lists, is also the only city among the 50 most populous with a ratio of 2 to 1 for job postings per unemployed person, according to Indeed.

METRO AREA JOB POSTINGS
PER 1000 PEOPLE
1 San Jose, CA 123
2 Raleigh, NC 90
3 Washington, D.C. 82
4 Boston, MA 80
5 Hartford, CT 79
6 Baltimore, MD 74
7 Denver, CO 74
8 San Francisco, CA 70
9 Charlotte, NC 70
10 Austin, TX 64

3. Get In on a Growth Industry…

According to Indeed.com, these five fields have experienced the greatest growth in job listings over the past year. The easiest ways to switch to a new field: Look for a role that parallels yours (for example, if you work in marketing at a retail firm, you could look for marketing jobs at a transportation company) and/or focus on your “transferrable” skills. The good news is that growth fields often experience labor shortages, so you have a better chance as someone without industry experience than in other fields.

INDUSTRY GROWTH/
PAST YEAR
GROWTH/
PAST QUARTER
GROWTH/
PAST MONTH
1 Transportation 122% 33% 9%
2 Hospitality 43% 1% -1%
3 Construction 39% 4% 1%
4 Manufacturing 35% 5% 2%
5 Media 24% 5% 2%


4. …Or a Growth Occupation

Similarly, changing your role can help you gain more traction in your search. The “hottest jobs of 2014” list below from CareerBuilder includes roles that grew 7% or more from 2010 to 2013, are projected to increase in 2014, and pay $22 or more per hour.

JOB CATEGORY TOTAL EMPLOYED IN 2013 JOB GROWTH,
2010-2013
MEDIAN HOURLY
EARNINGS
1 Software Developers, Applications and Systems Software 1,042,402 11% $45
2 Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists 438,095 14% $29
3 Training and Development Specialists 231,898 8% $27
4 Financial Analysts 257,159 7% $37
5 Physical Therapists 207,132 7% $38
6 Web Developers 136,921 11% $28
7 Logisticians 127,892 10% $35
8 Database Administrators 119,676 10% $37
9 Meeting, Convention and Event Planners 87,082 14% $23
10 Interpretors and Translators 69,887 14% $22

5. Target Companies that are Hiring

A few weeks ago, Time ran an article from its partner site The Muse on 10 companies that are hiring like crazy right now. These include professional services firm Deloitte and textbook retailer Chegg.com and software company Atlassian.

Besides checking out those companies, you might also look into the following, which CareerBuilder reported were hiring in August.

COMPANY INDUSTRY LOCATIONS
1 ADP Human capital management CA, GA, IL, NJ, NY, TX
2 Advanced Technology
Services
Factory maintenance, industrial
parts, IT services
Nationwide
3 Bloomin Brands Restaurant Nationwide
4 Bohler Engineering Professional engineering services DC, FL, MD, NC, NY, PA,
VA, and New England
5 DialAmerica Call centers CA, FL, IN, NE, PA, SC, TN
6 DLZ Engineering Engineering IL, IN, MI, OH
7 Eagle Transport Corporation Transportation DE, FL, GA, KY, TN, NC,
SC, VA
8 Elderwood Senior care NY, MA, PA, RI
9 Guckenheimer Hospitality/food service CA, MA, MO, WA, TX
10 Healthfirst Health care FL, NY

You might also take a hint from this graphic from aggregator Simply Hired: Concentrate on companies in the Inc 500 list, as this phrase appears in job ads more often—by a wide margin—than Fortune 50, 100, or 500.

MONEY Investing

You Told Us: What You Would Do First with an Extra $1,000

Stack of money
iStock

MONEY asked you how you'd deploy a $1,000 windfall. Your answers made us laugh, made us cry, and made us proud.

Related: 35 Smart Things to Do With $1,000

Related: 24 Things to Do with $10,000

Related: 13 Things to Do with $100,000

Tell Us: What Would You Do With $1,000?

MONEY

How to Keep Health Emergencies from Bankrupting You

Celine Dion takes a break from touring to care for her husband, who is battling cancer.
To help care for her ailing husband, Celine Dion has stepped out of the workforce for a while. Ryan Remiorz—AP

Céline Dion cancelled her tour to care for husband René Angélil, who's been fighting cancer. She doesn't have to worry about money, but most people in a similar situation do. Here's how to contain the financial damage.

Earlier today, singer Céline Dion announced that she would be canceling her tour to take care of her husband René Angélil—who has been battling cancer.

“It’s been a very difficult and stressful time for the couple as they deal with the day-to-day challenges of fighting [Angélil’s] disease while trying to juggle a very active show business schedule, and raise their three young children,” a publicist was quoted as saying.

No amount of money can erase the worry and heartache associated with caring for a loved one who’s dealing with a critical illness. And of course Dion, with a net worth estimated at $500 million, doesn’t have to fret about how her family will cope financially at this difficult time. But for the average American, the economic consequences of a tough diagnosis can compound the stress. A study by Sun Life Financial found that even with health insurance, the average cancer patient faced $6,700 in out-of-pocket costs a year. Plus, a family illness can take you away from the office, potentially crimping your earnings.

Should something like this happen to you, a parent or a partner, follow these steps to keep the financial toll to a minimum:

First, maximize your insurance coverage

Dig into your health plan. “Find out if the treatments you need will be covered or if you’ll have to go out of network to see the best specialist,” says Donald Duncan, a Chicago financial planner. Check how much you could be on the hook for; note that your out-of-pocket max when you leave your network can be twice as high as for in-network care.

Appeal to your insurer. If you can successfully argue that no specialists in your network are experts in your care or that none have treated your condition frequently, your insurer may be willing to cover out-of-network care at in-network rates.

Negotiate with your doctor. Another cost-saving option is to see if an out-of-network practitioner will accept in-network rates. Get a sense of what prices doctors and insurers typically agree on at healthcarebluebook.com.

Next, Get Down to Business at Work

Make the most of open enrollment. Use the annual benefits election period to switch to better health coverage, fully fund a flexible spending account ($2,500 max), and see if you can sign up for extra life and disability insurance. For most large group plans, you don’t need a physical for life insurance during this annual event.

Protect your position. If your firm has 50 or more workers and you’ve been there a year, the Family Medical Leave Act lets you take 12 weeks of unpaid leave—for your care or a family member’s.

Work out a lighter load. Your company may very well pay all or part of your salary for a leave under the firm’s short-term disability policy. If all you want is to reduce your hours, most policies will allow for that too.

Last, Guard Against Greater Financial Damage

Get your shoebox in order. Assemble all your financial statements, insurance policies, property records, and estate plans now, not later, says Philadelphia financial planner Stephen Cohn. Add to that list online IDs and passwords.

Raise cash. Prepare for big medical bills and a potential reduction in earnings by deciding which funds you’d tap in a worst-case scenario. If you must raid your assets and you’re under 59½, tap taxable accounts first to avoid the penalties you’ll pay to cash out an IRA or 401(k) (unless you can get a hardship waiver). “Sell before you need cash so you won’t have to liquidate at a bad time,” says Cohn.

Pick a point person. Draft a durable power of attorney and health care proxy. And says Tampa financial planner Keith Amburgey, “identify who will be your trusted person through your illness.”

MONEY credit cards

The Dark Side of Retailer Credit Cards

140806_FF_HighPriceCards_2
Department store cards carry hidden dangers. Alamy

That pushy salesperson won't tell you about a retail card's exorbitant interest rate or the potential damage to your credit score.

Look, we get it: When you’re living on a budget, every discount helps.

So it’s no wonder that you’re tempted when the salesperson at your favorite store asks, “Would you like to save an additional 15% by signing up for our credit card?” A study from earlier this year by CreditKarma found that one in five Americans said yes at least once over the previous two years.

Next time, though, think twice. A new analysis by CreditCards.com reveals just how much damage retail cards can do to your budget.

The average annual percentage rate on these cards, the study found, is a massive 23.23%, up from 21.22% in 2012. That compares to 15.03% on general-use cards today.

If you pay your bill off in full every month, you’ll never be affected by that subprime-like rate. But if you carry a balance, notes John Ulzheimer, a credit expert at CreditSesame.com, “whatever discount you got at the register will be eaten away really quickly, and you’ll end up paying more for the merchandise than you would have if you’d used a general-use card.”

CreditCards.com ran the math, and someone who charges a $1,000 TV and pays only the minimum would need 73 months to pay off the debt and incur $840 in interest charges over that time. With the average card, it’s 56 months and $396.

So much for that $150 discount. Instead of getting the TV for bargain rate of $850, you’d be paying $1,690.

The Really Long-Term Cost

There’s another downside to retail cards: They have the potential to cut down your credit score.

First off, a few points are shaved off every time you apply for new credit. Then there’s the fact that any new card will reduce the average length of your credit history, and this makes up 15% of your FICO score.

But the greatest impact these cards can have on your score is due to something called your utilization ratio, or how much of your available credit you’re using both on each card and across all your cards. A hefty 30% of your FICO score is based on your available credit. Problem is, store cards have very low limits, making it very easy to leverage these cards to the hilt.

If a store card is your only card, and it has a $750 credit limit and you’re using $500 of it, you’ve got a 66% utilization ratio, which could send your score south of the benchmark required to qualify for the best terms on loans. “And if you’ll end up with a higher interest rate on an auto loan and home loan, that $20 in savings [from the upfront discount] is not worth it” says Ulzheimer. You could end up paying thousands more over the life of a loan.

As an example, let’s say you were taking out a $200,000 on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. With a 760 FICO score (out of 850) you’d qualify for the lowest rate of 3.83%, according to FICO. If your score were 100 points lower, your rate would be 4.45%—and you’d pay an additional $25,662 over the life of the loan.

“Comparatively $500 on a total available credit limit of $20,000 is a 2.5% utilization, which is immaterial,” says Ulzheimer. It probably won’t affect your score.

Who Can Risk It

So if you’re someone who’s already got a stable of cards and is vigilant about paying them all off in full, adding a retail card is probably fine once in a while. But reserve it for those times when you’re making a really big purchase—like buying a mattress or closing out your wedding registry—when the discount will add up to real money.

Or, get a card from a retailer you really do purchase a lot from anyway, since you could benefit from ongoing perks. Of the 36 retailers that CreditCards.com surveyed, 22 offered low-rate introductory financing, instant rewards, or both. Several offered special deals available only to cardholders.

No matter what, definitely don’t open an account within a month of refinancing or applying for a mortgage.

Related:

Money 101: How do I improve my credit score?

Money 101: How do I pick a credit card?

Money 101: How do I get rid of credit card debt?

MONEY Careers

4 Reasons the Kardashian Moms Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Working (and Neither Should You)

Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian and Kourtney Kardashian
Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney Kardashian aren't your average working moms. Or are they? Omar Vega—Invision/AP

Even the Sisters K say leaving the kids behind to earn a living can be tough. Cheer up, Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney. Research finds there's an upside to balancing mommy duties with office demands.

Who knew I had something in common with the Kardashians? Surprise, surprise: The incredibly rich are not immune to working-mommy guilt.

While promoting their new kids’ clothing line on CNBC’s Closing Bell yesterday, Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney were asked to respond to the recent comments by PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi that women can’t have it all.

Whether or not you believe that what The Sisters K do actually counts as work—it certainly pays better than my job as an editor here at Money—their comments echo some of what I have heard from my fellow employed moms of the real world.

“There are so many times I just didn’t want to get up and work on something, I just wanted to be at home with my baby,” Kim said.

“I used to feel so guilty every time I left,” added Kourtney, who’s preggers with her third kid.

I guess this is proof that every working mom has had regret about leaving their child with a caregiver at some point or another. (Though if I had three, I would probably feel elated about going to work, not guilty.) But for those of us who are the family breadwinners and those of us who simply love our careers, we know we have to power through.

One way to beat back the guilt is to focus on the upside. And the good news is that there is a lot of research showing the benefits of being a mom who works (and this is not to vilify those who stay at home, who have the tougher job by my estimation). Remembering these four things helps me get through the tough mornings when my toddler breaks down in tears when I leave:

1. Working moms are healthier. A 2011 study from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro found that moms who work rate themselves in better health overall—more likely to say they feel “excellent”—than those who stay at home with their kids. This was confirmed by a 2012 paper from the University of Akron that looked at full-time working moms at age 40 who went back to work early on after having their children. These mamas reported higher levels of energy and mobility. I have to wonder, though, if either of these studies took into consideration what my husband and I have termed “daycare disease”—the family cold we pass between us from October to April.

2. Working moms are happier. Both the North Carolina and University of Akron studies showed that working moms exhibited fewer signs of depression than SAHMs. “Work is good for your health, both mentally and physically,” said Adrianne Frech, the lead researcher on the Akron study by way of explanation. “It gives women a sense of purpose, self-efficacy, control, and autonomy.” Additionally, a Gallup poll from 2012 found that moms who don’t work have higher levels of worry, depression, sadness, anger, and stress than those who do—which may speak to just how much harder that job really is.

But you don’t need a study to tell you that you’ll actually be happier if you’re doing something you like. I mean, just take it from an expert like Kim Kardashian: “You know, for me, and I think I can speak for my sisters, it makes us feel good when we are out working and we can provide something for our friends and products that, you know, we can’t find that we really want. And it just makes you feel productive.” Of course, a lot of this depends on being in the right job.

3. Your kids will not suffer for it. In a recent Pew study, 60% of Americans said children are better off when a parent stays home to focus on the family, but there’s a lot of data showing the opposite. Kids of working moms turn out okay—and possibly better depending on what research you’re looking at.

A 2010 review from the APA’s peer-reviewed Psychological Bulletin looked back at 50 years worth of studies on the children of working parents and found that those whose moms went back to work before the child turned three weren’t any more likely to exhibit behavioral or academic problems than those of moms who stayed at home. Among lower-income families, the kids actually did better on academic metrics. “Overall, I think this shows women who go back to work soon after they have their children should not be too concerned about the effects their employment has on their children’s long-term well-being,” said the study’s lead author, psychologist Rachel Lucas-Thompson.

Other recent research has shown similar results, including a 2014 study out of Boston College which found that kids of middle-class working moms are as well prepared for kindergarten as childen of moms who don’t work, and children of lower-income working moms are better prepared.

4. Your kids will still love you. For her 1999 book Ask the Children, Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, interviewed 1,000 kids ages 8 to 18 and found that a mom’s work status wasn’t a factor in how the children assessed their parents. In fact, the relationship between the parent and child was more important than whether or not mommy went to a job.

Me, I’m reminded of this every day at around 6 p.m. While it’s awful to leave my kid in the morning—well, some mornings anyway—there’s nothing like the giant hug and sloppy kiss that’s waiting for me when I get home.

MONEY Careers

7 Ideas That Could Make Life Easier for Working Parents

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Alamy

Experts gathered Monday at The White House Summit on Working Families to discuss ways to reduce the conflicts between the office and home. One working mom thinks these seven ideas would make for a good start.

All that “girls can, too” stuff that was popular when I was growing up seems to have paid off.

Women now comprise 47% of U.S. workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 6 in 10 women are now the sole, primary, or co-breadwinners for their families—echoing the results of Money’s own recent survey.

So great, we did it. Kudos to us. We are a new generation of women on top.

But for those of us who are also moms, working a double shift—at the office for the big cheese and then at home for the little bosses—doesn’t give us time to rest on our laurels. Or rest at all. Life is a constant juggling act, and one in which the balls are always dropping and the audience is booing.

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg may make work-life balance sound like a cakewalk, but a $800 million pay package buys flexibility that’s not really available to those of us with less made-up sounding salaries, not to mention workers making the $7.25 federal minimum wage.

For most working moms like me, work and home are in near-constant conflict. While your family gets that you need to work in order to put dinner on the table, your employer may not make it easy for you to make it home in time to put that healthy meat-and-veg casserole in the oven. (Pizza again?) Or pick up your fifth grader from school. Or take care of a sick baby. (Did I mention that my son is home with a fever today? Insert mommy guilt here.) And then there’s child care, which presents special challenges this time of year when school lets out for summer. (Check out some ideas for saving here.)

Only 14% of Americans think our public policies and workplace policies are keeping up with the changes in the workforce, according to a Center for American Progress survey.

On Monday, the White House and the Center for American Progress convened an event—The White House Summit on Working Families—aimed at finding solutions for the challenges working families face. At the plenary session, Claudia Goldin, a professor of economics at Harvard University; Mark Weinberger, CEO of professional services firm EY; Makini Howell, owner of Seattle’s Plum Bistro Restaurant; and Mary Kay Henry, president of Service Employees International Union; came together to offer their thoughts for what could help. These seven ideas caught my eye:

1. Make the school day more reflective of the work day. “There’s no reason school begins with a six-year-old,” said Goldin. “There isn’t any reason why it can’t start at three or four years old. There is no reason why school ends at 2 or 3 o’clock. And there is no reason—and sorry to all the kids—why it ends in June.”

2. Get parents at the top to set a standard. “When I was offered this job, I asked my kids, ‘Should I do this?'” recounted Weinberger, CEO of EY, which surveys its employees annually on flexibility. “My daughter asked ‘Will you still be able to keep the commitment to us?’ And I said absolutely, I was a father first.” Three months later, he said, he was in China giving his first speech as CEO when he was asked if he would be attending that evening’s dinner. Weinberger responded by saying that he had to leave for his daughter’s driving test. “Not a single person remembers my great speech, but I got hundreds of emails from people telling me what that freed them up to do.”

3. Require paid sick leave. “If I have a worker who dedicates five, 10 years of their life to my success and my small business, my question is why not pay a sick day?” says Howard, who helped pass paid sick leave legislation in Seattle. “When you care enough about your employees to provide a safety net, they don’t abuse what you offer…and if I can’t trust you to tell me when you’re sick, I should have more issues than you having a paid day off.”

4. Make paid maternity leave a must. “If someone who is working has a child or has a disability and has to leave that job, and then has to search for another job, that’s a cost for everyone in the system,” said Goldin, pointing to California’s law, which pays 55% of an employee’s base weekly wages for up to six weeks.

5. Boost wages for caregivers. “Childcare workers are building the brains of the next generation to be globally competitive,” said Henry. To that end, caregiving needs to be better rewarded as a profession, she said. “These need to become jobs people could raise their families on. Home-care and childcare workers could be the autoworkers and steelworkers of the future.”

6. Bump up minimum wage. “The number one issue is how do we drive wages up at the bottom of economy so that wage pressure on jobs in the middle can increase,” said Henry. “It’s not about whether we can make ends meet with one job, it’s about families doing three jobs and becoming ships passing in the night to care for children.” Howell, who was involved in helping bump Seattle’s minimum wage to $15, echoed this sentiment. “We have this race-to-the-bottom mentality in wages,” she said. “But raising the minimum to $15 puts more money into the economy since my workers are another business’s consumers.”

7. Encourage companies to invest in flexibility. “Many industries have become more flexible,” said Goldin. That’s in part due to technologies that allow employees to work remotely, she added, noting that she hopes other industries will follow.

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