Just because women have a role in budgeting and financial management doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better at budgeting than men. Men may win the gender war!
By: Miora Owens
A 1950’s housewife may have known next to nothing about her family finances, leaving all the money handling to her husband (who not only brought home, but distributed, the bacon.) Today’s women, though, are more likely than ever to be involved with – or even to have the main responsibility for – the family’s basic budgeting and finances.
According to one survey, about 51% of women have complete control over family finances, compared with only 36% of men. Those numbers vary a bit by age – with women in under-thirty couples having a bigger share of financial choices. They also differ by income; a woman who earns some money – even if it’s less than what her partner earns – is more likely to have a ruling vote in the family finances.
But just because women have a role in budgeting and financial management now doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better at budgeting than men. In fact, research from Financial Finesse Inc. shows that men may win the gender war when it comes to budgeting!
Here’s a breakdown of some of the interesting findings from the Financial Finesse study of around 3,500 U.S. employees from across the nation:
- * 66% of men regularly pay their credit card balances in full, compared to just 33% of women.
- * 90% of men pay their bills on time every month, compared to only 74% of women.
- * 71% of men budget to spend less than they earn each month, compared to just 53% of women.
- * Over 50% of men had a few months’ worth of an emergency fund, but only 33% of women did.
- * 40% of men were confident about their investment choices, compared to only 24% of women.
- * 73% of men cited a general knowledge of investment topics, compared with just 40% of women.
Those numbers are actually a little scary for women, many of whom are obviously struggling to deal with basic financial issues and taking a main role in managing the family finances!
So why the breakdown?
What is it, exactly, that makes men more likely to manage finances better than women? Especially since, women are less likely to use credit cards than men in the first place.
Well, one personal finance expert who commented on the Financial Finesse survey thinks that the problem is in traditional gender roles and acceptable conversations. While personal finance isn’t usually taught in schools, men are more likely to take an active role in learning about finances because of their still-traditional role of being the family’s financial provider.
Even in a two-income household, a man may take this role more seriously because of social modeling during his childhood and adolescence. Also, women, says the financial expert, are more likely to talk about “nurturing” topics – their kids, their emotions, etc. – while men are likely to talk about money and business. This means that men may be more likely to learn from other men about things like investments and savings.
What women should know
Regardless of the reasons why women tend to know less about finances than men, it’s important that they brush up on financial knowledge. So whether you’re the family’s main financial manager or not, make it a point to learn about the following actions so that you can manage your personal and/or family finances well:
* Become very familiar with your incoming and outgoing money on a monthly and weekly basis. You should always know how much money you have available and the expenses that are coming up.
* Go through your receipts for the past few months to figure out where you’ve been over-spending. Then, budget for problem areas that cause you to spend more than you make.
* Find ways to reduce your spending so that you can live on less than what you earn on a monthly basis.
* Become comfortable with budgeting software through companies like Mint.com. Programs that automatically import transactions from your bank account can be a great option because they make tracking your spending easy and automatic.
* Talk to an investment advisor who will educate you on investment options – not just try to sell you something. If you don’t know where your money is being invested, it’s time to find out! And never invest your money in something you don’t 100% understand.
* Check out your credit cards to make sure you’re using them wisely. Try to keep balances at or below 50% of available credit – the lower the better! – and pay off at least some of your cards in full every month.
Get into the habit of pulling your credit report every three to four months. Check for mistakes and inaccuracies, and learn how to report those problems to the credit union as soon as possible.
Just because surveys show that women are less adept at financial management than men doesn’t mean you have to be. By taking control and learning as much as you can about finances in general and your current financial situation in particular, you can learn to budget better than the average man!
About the Author:
Miora Owens works at a credit card comparison website that publishes credit card reviews, deals, and tips to help you make informed credit decision.