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Penny Gusner Consumer Analyst

The Mother’s Day Index 2014: Inequality edition

Mom's value is priceless, but if you had to put a dollar figure on the things she does for the family, her worth would be up this year over last, according to Insure.com's annual Mother's Day Index.

From chauffeur to cook to household financial manager, Mom does a little bit of everything. The value of the tasks a typical mother does is $62,985, 5 percent more than last year's total of $59,862. (See the dollar value of all tasks at the bottom of this page.)

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But if you paid a man to do those same tasks, the salary would be even higher:

  • Cooking: The median weekly wage for male cooks is $411, compared to $382 for women.
  • Helping with homework: The median weekly wage for men working as teachers and other instructors is $1,055. For women, it’s $729.
  • Cleaning up: Men working as housecleaners make a median weekly wage of $467 per year, compared with the $401 women earn.
  • The family finances: A male accountant or auditor earns a median weekly wage of $1,268, compared with $1,029 for women.

The figures are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics median wage data for men and women. A man putting in the same hours at the same tasks would earn $67,743, about 8 percent more.

The imbalance is reflected in life insurance. Among individual policies sold to married couples, the amount of coverage on women is substantially lower.

Life insurance for momsMother's Day gifts chart

Many families couldn't afford to pay for the services that a mom does for free. That's why it's important to consider what a parent provides when deciding how much life insurance to buy. (See customer satisfaction rankings in Insure.com’s best life insurance companies list.)

It's no secret that moms shoulder a lot. According to Insure.com's survey, all the tasks listed in the Mother's Day Index are part of most mothers’ household routines. Ninety-three percent shop for the family, 94 percent drive their kids around, 91 percent cook and 89 percent clean.

But some of the tasks aren’t reflected. Forty percent of parents surveyed also volunteer at school, and 24 percent coach a team.

"Both parents should be insured, including moms and dads who don't work outside the home," says Insure.com consumer analyst Penny Gusner. "Besides replacing lost income, life insurance also can be used to pay for the services a parent provides the family, such as child care."

To calculate how much life insurance to buy, consider all that a parent does for the family and how much it would cost to replace what that parent provides.

"Don't assume your in-laws or own parents will pick up the slack if one of you passes away," Gusner says.

They might not have the physical capability or time to assume that responsibility, no matter how devoted they are to their grandchildren.

Getting adequate coverage

Mothers tend to be underinsured. About 57 percent of women have life insurance - roughly the same portion as men -- either through a group policy at work or an individual policy they own, according to data from LIMRA, a global research and consulting group. But married couples are less likely to buy individual coverage for wives than husbands, and the amount of coverage purchased for women is about 69 percent of men's coverage.

Two-thirds of single moms have life insurance, but among women with coverage, only one-third of single moms say their families could cover expenses over a significant length of time should they die, according to LIMRA.

Calculating how much to purchase depends on a family's circumstances. Besides paying funeral and other final expenses, loved ones can use life insurance proceeds to replace lost wages, help pay off a mortgage, pay for the kids' college education and assist with the daily expenses of running a household.

Best gifts: Mother knows best

If you're wondering what to get Mom for Mother's Day, simple gifts, time spent with family, and maybe a little pampering are the way to go, according to an Insure.com survey.

Sixty-one percent of moms say they prefer homemade presents from the kids, and 17 percent of moms don't want gifts from their children. Asked to name the favorite gifts they've ever gotten from their kids, cards and artwork top the list, followed by breakfast in bed.

Most moms want to spend time with their families on Mother's Day. Sixty-nine percent said spending the day with the whole family was their favorite way to enjoy the holiday. Only 7 percent each said by themselves or with their husbands sans the kids. Almost 18 percent said with the kids, sans the spouse.

As far as the best possible purchased gifts, a day at the spa and a weekend getaway with the family topped the list. Gift cards, a weekend getaway with her husband, dinner at the best restaurant in town and chocolates followed closely.

Thinking about a vacuum cleaner or electronic gadget? Think again. Household appliances and electronics were the least popular choices.

The Mother's Day Index 2014

Mother's task

BLS occupation title

Hours per week

Weeks per year

Mean hourly
wage

Annual Mom earnings

Cooking

Cooks

14

52

$9.55

$6,952.40

Driving

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs

9

52

$12.12

$5,672.16

Helping with homework

Other teachers and instructors

10

40

$18.23

$7,290.00

Taking care of the kids

Childcare Worker

40

52

$10.45

$21,736.00

Nursing wounds

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

2

12

$18.30

$439.20

Cleaning up

Maids and housekeeping cleaners

10

52

$10.15

$5,278.00

Planning parties

Meeting & Convention Planners

8

8

$22.53

$1,441.60

Summer activity planner

Miscellaneous community and social service specialists, including
health educators and community health workers.

40

12

$18.50

$8,880.00

Haircuts

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

0.5

52

$12.13

$315.25

Shopping for the family

Personal care aides

3

52

$11.13

$1,735.50

Family finances

Accountants and auditors

0.5

52

$25.73

$668.85

Yard work

Grounds maintenance workers

1

52

$12.95

$673.40

Fixing up the house

Designers

5

8

$21.65

$866.00

Finding out what the kids are up to

Private detectives and investigators

5

8

$25.91

$1,036.40

Grand total: $62,984.76

Wage source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Methodology

“Mom’s value” is based on occupational wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and does not include a salary from work outside the home.

For mothers’ input on household tasks and Mothers’ Day gifts, Insure.com commissioned a survey of 1,001 women with children living at home. The survey was fielded in April 2014.

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