Men, Women, and How They Think About Money

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Money is central to our existence and we all know it. We need, want it and got to have it. There’s nothing new to report here about any of that. It’s the basic reason we all get up every morning, battle the elements and the traffic, and hunker down at our jobs every day.

Whether you are a Canadian or an American like me, there are differences between the genders. If you’re a man, you’re more likely to be coming home from work each day, unwinding and spending your time as you see fit. If you’re a woman, not so much. For as long as there have been people working outside the home, women have born most of the burdens of taking care of the home, kids, chores, and those kinds of things.

When you look at the last 30 years of changes to our society, i.e. the big addition of women to the workforce, there may have been some changes in that old school approach…but not enough. Men still fundamentally think of women as the responsible party when it comes to family, care-taking, and home. Women, even though they desire the responsibility of full-time work, seem to still feel the instincts for home and family as strongly as ever.

The burden of work and family care still falls mostly on women. That’s a fact and is one of the main reasons why women suffer in comparison to men in the world of finances and income. Here are some of the major differences between the sexes and how money and financial security are affected by gender circumstances.


The Old “Equal Pay for Equal Work” Thing


It’s a fact that men earn more than women in jobs that are the same. Women in the US make only about 80 cents of every dollar earned by men and in Canada, women in the workforce do even worse, earning only 74 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

While the gap is closing, it’s moving at a very slow pace and it is having a really negative effect on what I call financial confidence among women. Women don’t feel confident to aggressively pursue job-related opportunities the way men do.

There is a gap in the salaries for “higher paying” executive-type jobs between men and women and that gap is actually increasing! The reasons for this are multiple. For one, women don’t pursue these jobs as often as the men do. Second, women fail to negotiate salary and promotion as frequently as men.

The third reason may be simply one of misperception by men or even worse, simple discrimination. When men were asked about executive salaries for women, the majority responded that they felt that “wasn’t a real issue”. It is.


Credit Scores and Credit Cards


There are mixed reports here for sure. Women have higher credit scores than men according to Experian (in the US), but just by a small amount. The average woman scores about 675 and the average man about 670 and both are considered to be on the low-end of the good scale.

The reason for this small difference is that women carry and manage less debt than men on their credit cards. This is in spite of the fact that women make less money which makes it harder to pay off their debts.

Women also carry more individual credit cards than men. When accompanied by prompt payments, that actually can increase your overall credit score.

You can check credit scores at Equifax and Trans Union. You can even obtain them for no charge.

Related: Have you ordered your FREE Credit Report Canada?


Student Debt Hurts Women More than Men


Student debt in both America and Canada are at record levels. Making matters worse, women make less and therefore must dedicate a bigger percentage of their income to paying off their student loans. The amount of the debt owed after graduation is about 25% more of their income going towards repayment than that of men.

This is a double-edged problem because it also means that they have less income to invest. This affects their retirement plans and the building up of their emergency funds, or for saving for things like a house or car. It may even cause postponement of events like marriage and children.


Women are Hurt Long Term by Their Inability to Save


Men can save more than women because of salary differences. Shockingly, although most of us don’t save nearly enough as we should, women (about 43%) often don’t even have a month’s savings on hand if an emergency arises.

Men, however show that 63% have savings on hand to get through an emergency. Recommendations are for 3-6 months saved. It’s not that women don’t want to save, but they just can’t find a way to do that and cover all of their other required responsibilities.


Investment Strategies Differ between Men and Women


According to Betterment, an online investment company, women use a more sound approach to investments then men. They are more likely to set up a plan that doesn’t involve a lot changes to their strategies as men do. Changing allocations, investments, and fund choice is more likely to diminish returns as do the short-term capital gains they may lead to.

According to a 2013 CUNA (Credit Union National Association) survey, over 50% of women say they aren’t confident about their financial decisions. They tend to think they do not have a good understanding of stocks, bonds, IRA’s, and investments. They are also more likely to describe themselves as beginners and not as well versed as men are about it.


Women Have Retirement Accounts But Men Out-save Them by 2 to 1


Women are definitely on board with starting a retirement plan, in fact there are more of them owned by women than by men. The problem is in the inequity that men save twice as much in them as women and that makes women so much more vulnerable to problems in their retirement.

In fact, they are 80% more likely than men to be impoverished in retirement because of the lack of savings and because of their increased life span. As women live longer, it also requires them to stay in the workforce longer to stretch their retirement incomes further.

There are certainly differences between men and women and when it comes to money.  That’s a fact that can be seen by attitudes and behaviors as well as some stacking of the deck against women.

Men tend to view money as a game “to win” and feel the need to be well compensated for their efforts. Women, on the other hand, seem to view money as value and for community which is a more healthy way to look at it.

If the field were level between men and women as far as their earnings go, the feminine view of money and finances would probably mean a healthier and less stressful way of life.

Is it likely to change in the very near future? I hope so, but I wouldn’t count on it. It seems that as long as men are still making the rules it will be a long way to financial and wage equality.

Discussion Question: Share your thoughts about the difference between men and women plus money. Post a comment below.

Post Contribution: Gary Weiner is a retired retail/bank executive who has had several careers relating to personal finance and money management. His blog Super Saving Tips is designed to take what he’s learned from life’s failures and successes to help educate others.

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Photo Credit: Matthew Henry



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  1. Great insight on the inequality of pay in the workplace between men and women. In terms of savings and retirement planning as a couple, I view our finance as one. My goal is to keep our account contribution close to a 50/50 split even though there is a difference in our income. Right now, my account is slightly ahead and I can rebalance it by opening a spousal account for my wife. This will make our account balance in the long-term and it will be tax efficient when we start our withdrawal at retirement.

    1. Sounds like you have a good strategy in place, Leo. Like any financial planning, it’s good to evaluate and re-evaluate as you go along because there are many options you can consider as circumstances might change. Good luck with your plan and thanks for your comments.

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