Battle of the Sexes: How Men and Women View Money

By Kari McLeod, Pangaro Wealth Management

It’s been well-documented the differences between women and men, and money habits are no exception. Differing opinions on spending and saving are likely some of the biggest reasons why money is the most common reason married couples fight, with couples averaging three arguments per month about financial issues. Additionally, 3 in 10 married adults admit to potentially deceitful behavior about money, and arguments about money are the most common predictors of a future divorce. The question is, why is money such a sensitive topic?

The Differing Outlooks On Money

One of the big reasons why money can cause friction in a relationship is that men and women view saving and finances differently. Men are more likely to take risks with money than women. Motivational speaker and budgeting expert, Dave Ramsey, explains that men use money as a scorecard, whereas women see it as a security issue. As a result, women may experience a higher level of fear when money problems arise.

Women who invest tend to do so more conservatively than their male counterpart and, perhaps because they generally earn less than men, they are more interested in long-term planning, saving, and living more frugally in order to feel more secure.

Another study shows that women are more astute consumers, in that they’re more likely to invest time and energy to research and compare their options. Men, on the other hand, are willing to pay extra to expedite the process. And while women may be more likely to purchase things they don’t necessarily need, men are more likely to spend more money than women on daily needs, such as food, transportation, and entertainment.

Potential Financial Hurdles in Relationships

Beyond differing outlooks on money, some couples may experience shame, secrecy, and resentment regarding spending. According to a CreditCards.com poll, 1 in 5 Americans have spent $500 or more without their partner’s knowledge, and 6% have maintained hidden bank accounts or used secret credit cards. This is most often done so a spouse can avoid conflict within his or her relationship.

What makes money and love so difficult to peacefully coexist? For one, money will always be an emotional topic for people. It seems that just about everyone has their own opinion on how to manage money and what constitutes “good” financial behaviors versus “bad.” Even among a happily married couple, differing financial philosophies can clash and cause tension. Additionally, money can be a difficult subject to broach as it easily incites stress or frustration, so many couples attempt to avoid conversations on finance at all costs.

Communicating About Money

Despite the trend, money doesn’t have to be a pain point in a relationship. Let’s look at a few simple strategies that may help couples avoid financial arguments.

Be Open About Your Spending

You and your spouse should be aware of how you spend your money, especially when it comes to significant costs, loans, or ongoing fees. Maintaining an open line of communication regarding upcoming bills may help you avoid confrontation. If you want to make a big purchase or spent more recently, talk to your spouse about it.

Create Guidelines and Boundaries

It’s important for a couple to be on the same page regarding their finances. It can be helpful to answer some basic questions to establish what you consider necessities and what price-point is “too much.” For example, how much can be spent per month on non-essentials? How much is too much for a new pair of shoes?

Establish some basic structure for how you will spend and save money. If one of you is more disciplined than the other, you may consider having the disciplined spouse manage the monthly budget and spending.

Maintain Transparency

Most often, one spouse manages all of the household’s bills, budgets, savings, investments, and insurance policies. However, it can be helpful for both partners to understand their spending versus their saving. Sit down together once a month to review your credit card statements, account transactions, and other bills. This helps you both recognize any spending patterns and stay on the same track with your financial goals.

Get Help From an Unbiased Third-Party

Sometimes the best way to ease money tensions is to work with an objective third-party, whether that’s a financial advisor, a marriage counselor, or both. A financial advisor can work with you and your spouse together to review your financial landscape, identify any gaps in your coverage, assist you in establishing short and long-term goals, help you stay on track, and provide professional and knowledgeable advice.

Although the topic of money can occasionally cause tension, it doesn’t have to become a constant cause for concern in a relationship. Invest the time to address spending habits and savings goals, uphold transparency regarding bills, and communicate effectively.

As a financial advisor who specializes in working with women, I enjoy helping couples and helping them establish healthy financial habits, work through life transitions, and pursue their goals. If you have questions about your financial situation or more ways to communicate about money, I’d be happy to help. Give my office a call at 203.439.2626.

About Pangaro Wealth Management

Pangaro Wealth Management is a Registered Investment Advisory firm providing financial planning, risk management, and retirement plan consulting for individuals, families, and business owners. Led by a team of experienced financial professionals with diverse backgrounds, the firm focuses on doing one thing extremely well and with unparalleled dedication and commitment: connecting their clients’ dreams with sound financial strategies. By collaborating as a team, they provide greater depth and more advanced strategizing to clients’ plans and needs. Deeply rooted in their community, they serve clients throughout Connecticut, reaching to Cheshire, Meriden, New Haven, Torrington, Avon, West Hartford, Farmington Valley, Vernon, and beyond. To schedule an appointment, click here. To learn more about their services, visit www.pangarowealthmanagement.com or connect with them on LinkedIn.

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