In Discussions, Money

Why are we women so stupid when it comes to our money?

I get that guys are idiots too when it comes to money, but it seems like women are the majority of people who will passively let their partners handle the cash (or not handle it at all between the both of them).

I am not exempt from this stupidity, having done MANY STUPID money things in the past.

The heart of the matter is that I am on the right path now.

At least I’m doing stupid money things consciously rather than unconsciously, and I have great friends, readers and bloggers who virtually slap me once in a while.

But why are we women SO DUMB when it comes to handling our money?

Here are two biggest, most idiotic things we women do:

STUPID MONEY MOVE #1:

LET OUR PARTNERS HANDLE EVERYTHING

Ahh.. ignorance is bliss isn’t it?

Taxes, household bills, utilities, choosing where to budget your money, or spend it — many women (more often than not), will let their partners (husbands or others) handle it because “they’re men and therefore naturally better with numbers and management” (true words from a true conversation I had with a friend).

IN WHAT WORLD IS THIS TRUE?

How does having different sex organs, make you better at handling money? O_o


us-money-dollars-twenties-arranged

Here’s a reality check for you:

Men are just as stupid with their money as women are

Don’t believe me? Read this little excerpt in this post about a guy named Calvin…

In fact, probably stupider at times because of their hormones (or they think they’re smarter); testosterone makes men do silly things to win whatever it is they’re in a competition for (women, resources, fame, fortune). (Source)

Men on the whole, tend to be more aggressive than women because of their natures (yes, testosterone again) and that makes them more likely to be big risk-takers who think everything will turn out find in the end, no matter what.

Measuring for aggression, hostility, competitiveness, trustworthiness, intelligence and skill,McDermott found that men, overall, are more aggressive than women both when unprovoked or in retaliation mode.

[snip]

According to McDermott, men have a greater sense of positive illusion than women.

(Source)

I saw this in effect when I was in business school and we were in competitions with each other.

The guys wanted to ‘stake it all’ on a bet on a company, whereas the girls would try and get them to come down off the ledge of “all or nothing”.

It made for some interesting late nights, arguing over what to do with fictional companies, I can tell you that.

I wanted to strangle a few guys I worked with sometimes, but I’d just go into another room and breathe in and out 10 times.

A lot of guys generally felt the need to assert their dominance and knowledge, no matter the situation, but then again, I guess if they’re in business school, they consider themselves to be leaders like the rest of us.

Some more than most.

We women were no slouches in the leading department either, we had lots of “discussions” (read: fights) about what to do, but in general, we tended to come to a compromise we could agree with as a team, rather than try and force our singular views down someone else’s throat.

I read a quote in Elle Magazine:

Senator-Susan-Collins-Run-Baby-Run-Article-Elle-September-2012-Page-384-Politics-Quote-Woman

TEXT

“Women need to be willing to take more risks in running for public office. I’ve talked to countless women who’ve convinced themselves that they’re not ready, not knowledgeable enough about the issues.

I’ve never talked to a male candidate who felt that way.

Ever.

Truly never.

A female officeholder once told me that to talk about international trade policy, a woman felt she needed a PhD.

A man felt he was qualified if he drove a Honda.”

– Senator Susan Collins

Source: Elle Intelligence – Politics; Page 384 in Elle Magazine – Issue September 2012

That quote just about sums it up for how much we women value our cognitive skills and the ability to have the confidence to say what we want.

It’s also why it’s so frustrating to hear us second-guess ourselves especially when it comes to decisions about things as important as MONEY and MONEY MANAGEMENT.

What’s the worst that could happen? You end up putting your money in a savings account and it doesn’t do anything for 5 years but earn 1 – 2% interest?

So what?

It isn’t the best money management, but at least you didn’t LOSE or WASTE IT gambling, as I can personally attest to seeing happen first-hand in my life.

STUPID MONEY MOVE #2:

NOT EVER ASKING ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT ANYTHING

Where is our money being invested?

How much are we setting aside for the kids?

Do we have enough for retirement?

How come we’re spending money on buying this car, and not this one?

Why am I being asked to take your income onto my taxes?

These are all questions that women SHOULD be asking when their husbands do things.

Even if they are good things, and things that SHOULD be done, you should still. ask. questions.

Yeah, maybe we’re reluctant to want to even know what the hell is going on, but I really applaud and admire those guys who say things like:

I make my wife / girlfriend sit down and go through the budget with me.

I also tell her exactly where everything is invested, and how to get to it in case anything happens.

She hates our money talks but I feel better knowing that she knows where our money is and where it goes.

Otherwise, you end up like the women I know, who have let their husbands scam their pay cheque for the past 30 years, telling them they needed “a couple thousand” above the mortgage half, to cover household bills.

LADIES, WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN, REALLY?

What’s the worst that could happen? There’s a big fight?

He feels like his ego is bruised and you don’t trust him?

You end up not talking for days?

Well…let me ask you this — what kind of man would he be if he got upset because you simply want to know where your money is going?

It’s just a bullying tactic that keeps women away from asking the right questions, even if they’re hard.

Maybe he’s afraid you’ll discover what he’s been hiding.

Or maybe, you’re better off alone, and you’re discovering the problem early on rather than letting it fester.


breadwinner-woman-cash-bills-money

Someone who is unwilling, gets angry or is really annoyed that you’re asking questions about how they’re handling the money, is someone who may have something to hide.

It could be something small, like he has a nest egg hidden for just in case and he’s afraid you’ll blow up at him because you wanted to build a swimming pool and he said you had no money.

…..or it could be something big, like you’re really deep into debt (into the thousands) and you’re sinking faster and faster each day.

Maybe they don’t want to tell you as not to worry you, but not knowing is worse than knowing and having a plan to dig out of it.

Whatever it is, big or small, if you don’t sit down and talk about the budget, or voice concerns about how much you’re spending and saving, then you aren’t really “together” as partners in life.

Do you really want to reach old age and discover (during your grieving period, no less) that he left you with a mountain of debt and a tangled mess of finances you can’t unravel even with a team of experts?

Or that you can’t even bloody find where he saved all this money that you now need to live on?

Didn’t think so.

WOMEN!

IT’S TIME TO STOP BEING DUMB AND LAZY WHEN IT COMES TO OUR MONEY.

—–

Also I am not purposefully trying to exclude the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community, but I have no experience with how LGBT folks handle their money between them.
Comments on how these money relationships work, would be great, but as I’m a straight female, this is my perspective on straight couples.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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23 Comments

  1. MakintheBacon

    I, like you, am somewhat of a freak 😛 and am the one handling the finances. I guess because I actually like doing it, seeing where the money goes, tracking how much we are spending, it was more natural that I handle paying the bills. We make equal contributions when it comes to our mortgage and for big purchases, we take turns buying them.

    I show him my spreadsheet from time to time to give him an idea of where the money is going, but for him it seems like a lot of work and doesn’t want to be bothered. He’s not horrible with money, he’s pretty frugal, he’s just not interested in managing his money. I wish he was though…..

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      BF and I are pretty crazy about managing money. He tracks everything too, but he doesn’t do it to my insane level of tracking which annoyed me because the charts were too vague like: “Food”…”Alcohol”…”Household”… but with no details about WHAT we bought.

      So I took over the tracking about 6 months ago because I wanted to see it in my level of detail and it’s been great ever since.

      Reply
  2. SarahN

    Currently, I handle all my finances myself. I don’t invest as much as the BF might do himself or think I should, but I do have a mortgage, which he doesn’t. Given we’re just dating, we don’t share finances or the like, and it’s a ‘your turn/my turn’ sort of situation with eating out, holidays etc.

    My mother has next to no idea how their finances work. I know how to log into all the accounts, since they had a stint living overseas, but mum’s in the dark. I keep telling them they need a ‘how to’ doc in case anything happens with Dad. Sigh

    Reply
  3. Anne @ Unique Gifter

    It blows my mind that this is still the case so often and really, truly upsets me. In our dynamic, I am mostly responsible for “outgoings” and my spouse is mostly responsible for “reocurrings” if that makes any sense. Basically, I control medical benefits, credit card payments, insurance, and a rough handle on how much we spend on “life” while my spouse ensures our cash flow covers the mortgage, property taxes, car insurance (we pay annually), investment loan and tracks our savings targets. Responsibility is split, but we both know what’s going on. Any non-registered investment decisions are usually initiated by one person, but the other person is aware. Our registered investments are pretty basic (almost all are via work) and my FIL provides most of the input on any others that are directly in our control.
    In contrast though, my brother will have to take a more active role in their household finances so that they can achieve their goals. My SIL doesn’t take as much ownership, though she is aware of the state of things. She is also more spendy, so has to be reigned in by external forces sometimes. (ie, they will sit down and decide her budget for a trip is X or to do something is Y and she has to actively restrict herself to that.) In contrast, I can say “oh, by the way, I am going to spend $xxx, we can cover it.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Wow your split is interesting. I guess it’s an even load. In my budgeting world, we both have to agree on things we have to each pay 50% of (household stuff), and if there are BIG purchases like $800 duvet covers, that gets discussed ad nauseum.

      I like the way your family handles the money. My parents have a very uneven, unbalanced one-sided load that is absolutely UNFAIR and it drives me mad seeing it. I try not to rock the boat but… hey, I’m a stickler for fairness.

      Reply
  4. PK

    I’m a bit afraid to post a comment here, but I handle most of the money – from investing to taxes. It’s not that my Y chromosome is coloring my vision and turning me into a anachronistic, patriarchal sexist… more that she genuinely prefers I handle the money (“I mean, you have a blog about this stuff!”).

    Our compromise? We both log into Mint. I suppose as long as that Net Worth number keeps increasing, we’ll be in good shape.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I’ll say the same thing to you I said to StackingCash — Does she know how to pay the bills in the event of something happening? Does she know where all the accounts are? Where to log in? What is kept where? Who to pay? When? When taxes are due?

      If not, it’s time to make a book detailing all this info, and force her to sit down once a year at least, to know what decisions you’ve taken.

      My brother does this with my SIL, and she HATES their budget talks, but it prevented them from upgrading to a third home 😛

      Reply
  5. debtperception

    My husband is horrible at managing his money, so I do it all, I pay all the utilities and all the bills. I just recently got him on board with budgeting, hopefully he can stick to it!

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      He should at least know where it goes and what it costs. Same advice as I give to everyone — both partners should know what the bills are (write them down if you have to), when they’re paid (generally) and average amounts.

      It’s just a handy piece of paper in case anything happens.

      Reply
  6. StackingCash

    I wish my wife would take more interest in our finances. She says that she would be miserable if she saw how much money we spend. Even though we spend less than we make, I think we should be spending less than that. Oh well, good thing I like handling the finances.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      You should still get her to see what you spend each month. You just never know (knock on wood) if she has to suddenly take the reins, if she will be able to keep the household going in the interim.

      Just knowing where the bills are kept, when to pay them (e.g. taxes every quarter), and so on, can be an immense help.

      Or maybe you can make a document on this so that at least you have something she can refer to.

      Personally, taking the stance of an Ostrich doesn’t work for me, on the grounds that it ‘depresses her’. I disapprove (sorry!) because if she would be miserable seeing the reality of those numbers, it means it’s probably a good time to cut back and she knows it, but wants to pretend it’s not.

      Reply
  7. Erin @ Red Debted Stepchild

    I handle our finances 100%. Why? Because (a) I’m a control freak and (b) I love doing it. And yet I’ve had a client (39 years old, mind you) who had to come in and learn how to write a check because she had just gotten divorced and DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO. Really? It was tragic.

    Thinking of my friends – it seems to be split pretty evenly, half of the guys take care of the finances and half of the girls. But they all know how to handle them if they ended up single again, which is the important thing.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      You would be surprised how many people have no idea how to write a cheque with the spelled out dollars, and the cents at the end. It’s rather shocking.

      I agree — the most important thing is that you, individually, know how to handle a budget if you have to.

      I do all the budgeting and tracking because I’m a freak and I like knowing how everything is split out, but BF pays his half (I invoice him each month).

      Reply
  8. LAL

    I am the only one in my circle of female friends who handles the finances. I am DISGUSTED and HORRIFIED that these educated women BOTH working and not working women don’t know their finances. There is NO EXCUSE.

    They should know their budget, their investments, their mortgages, etc. They should be on top of it in the sense that they should talk about with their partners even if they aren’t in charge. But they DON’T. They have no idea,

    These women are idiots. I’m sorry. They should know what they make, what they spend, what debt they have, how much they are saving for retirement, college. etc. Their excuse is they are too tired and busy to care.

    I just don’t get it. The only thing I can think of is that they are afraid. Afraid of finding out that they have been complicit in getting into debt and spending more than they make as a couple. Single woman can be complicit in having CC. I have single girlfriends who couldn’t tell you how much they owe because they never fully added it up. Men too for that matter.

    Both genders should accept responsibility and be aware of their spending. It just really disgusts me when women are surprised that they can’t buy the home or car they want because they overspent.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Hear hear.

      Everyone should know all the numbers, even kids I’d wager. Definitely teenagers living in a family unit. It can only serve to benefit them in the future to know that the telephone service is NOT FREE even though you made no calls on it that month (no joke, someone was 30 before he found that out).

      Everyone should know how much they owe on their mortgage, when they’ll pay it off, what they’re doing, and where it’s going in a general sense. Maybe the minutiae of the day to day recording can be avoided by those who loathe it, but it is more empowering than depressing.

      Reply
  9. Brandy

    I find this post a little offensive mainly because I handle all our finances. I pay all our bills, taxes, advise my husband where to put his 401k (because he asks me), and handle all our investing outside of employer benefits. I have always handled my own finances and when when we moved in together I took over both of ours…before we got married.

    In the US, nearly 40% of woman have never been married so I am not sure how those “helpless” woman have a man do all their finances. They obviously have to do their own if there is no man in the relationship (or maybe they have a woman do it if they are a lesbian).

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      You are a rare woman indeed, Brandy! You have a little right in feeling insulted as I did generalize by saying “Why are we women”… but please note that I included myself in that.

      I don’t know many women who are handling finances 100% except in our small PF blogging world. We are not the norm (readers included).

      You are on the same wavelength as LAL and I, as we are both gung-ho for everyone knowing everything $$ in a relationship.

      Reply
  10. Sara

    Maybe it’s also that those men are the higher earners so the tacitly consent that the men should control what money goes where?

    The best household budgeting that I have ever seen was with LGBT friends of mine. They own a house together and have one shared account for all of the household bills that they contribute to based on the percentage of combined income that they make. (So, the person making 70% in a given year puts in the money for 70% of the bills.) Everything else is kept separate, but each year when they get their contracts and salaries, they sit down and share the status of everything- the mortgage, retirement, debt, and any large purchases that they see coming up in the next year.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Ooooo good point. I wish I could be a fly on the wall just for the money discussions.

      I like the idea of shared accounts and shared bills, although does that person who earns 70% also own 70% of the house? Otherwise, having been through a bad experience with splitting bills based on income, it seems a bit taxing/unfair on that higher earner if I were in that position (although I’m sure they’re happy to do it, and it seems to work out for them.)

      Reply
      1. Sara

        I guess I should clarify that because of their career, salaries change yearly. It’s rare that the same person is the majority earner two years in a row. And it is rarely a 70-30 split; many years it’s even 50-50 or 52-48.

        You bring up a good point though. I’m not sure how the arrangement would work where there was one partner that was consistently the higher earner.

        Reply
        1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

          Ah! That makes more sense. Thanks for clarifying.

          For me, it’s a 50/50 income split here, so we do 50/50 expenses which I prefer anyway for a lack of resentment on both sides.

          Reply
  11. Marissa @ Thirtysixmonths

    I’m not sure what it is, but I think the fact that men are “were” supposed to be the bread winners meant that they also supposed to be smart with it.
    I have tons of friends both male and female who just suck with it.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Good point. A throwback from the past, perhaps.

      Reply

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