7 Things Men Wish Women Knew About Money

by Ron Haynes

Notes:
Lynnae from beingfrugal.net has written a beautiful post presenting the woman’s view of this subject. Please also read 7 Things Women Wish Men Knew About Money.

Also, this post has been included in The Carnival of Personal Finance #139 Valentine Edition! Be sure and read the fantastic blog entries from this week’s carnival.


Few things are as touchy a subject as the differences between men and women. Add in the “money” component and you get a recipe for a lot of heated debate and emotion on both sides. But there ARE differences, real differences in how men and women view themselves and their personal finances. We are wired differently and it affects every aspect of our lives.

Finance

In most relationships, usually there is one person who is more financially oriented and one who is less financially oriented. In research and in discussions with others, it often appears that men are more financially oriented, but this isn’t always the case. Despite many social changes, men are still bred to believe they will be good at dealing with money, even though nobody tells us how to do it. We’re just supposed to know. Women are raised to believe they won’t be good at it and, if they’re fortunate, some man will take care of all the details of money and investing. To be sure, there are some women who are doing the research on mutual funds, IRA’s, taxes, and handling the checking accounts. Ladies, if that person is you, please don’t take offense to the title of this blog post.

At any rate, this is a list of what many men would like women to understand about their relationship with money and how they view their financial lives within a relationship :

1. Men do not have all the answers. We may be more confused than you are, but our testosterone levels rarely let us admit it. We don’t always understand how moving something from one type of account to another works. We don’t always know the best investment to make for the kid’s college fund or future wedding. We don’t always understand how much risk really is involved in that emerging technology ETF. Taxes, oh yeah, we act like we know what we’re doing, but few of us actually do.

Our natural tendencies make us want to be in charge, to be the all knowing one, who speaks with authority and is never wrong. You all know this is very rarely the truth, but we do have that fantasy, and we cannot change it. It is hard wired into our psyche.

How you can help: Encourage and support us as we try to educate ourselves on personal finance and how money and markets works. We don’t want to be a divorce statistic and since most arguments are about money, let’s work this out. Help us by learning and reading along with us. It’s much more fun to discover something together.

2. We are scared we won’t have enough money at retirement. Every time we read something new on the subject, the amount goes up. When we look at the amount of money we’re able to save compared to these seven figure numbers the “experts” recommend, we almost want to just give up. WHO can save that much? Do these people have kids? Apparently, it can be done, but we question whether we can do it ourselves. We also wonder it you’ll think we’re just cheap or just want the money for our own selfish ambitions. We question whether you’ll support us.

When it comes to retirement, we feel like we’re going up against a full grown lion with our BB gun from 3rd grade and we’re going to end up shooting our eye out right before the lion eats us. When we furiously clip coupons out of the blue one day, it may be that we got our latest 401k statement and don’t want to show it to you. We truly are worried that we won’t have enough saved up and that you’ll think less of us.

How you can help: study frugality. You don’t have to be a cheapskate, but understand that one dollar saved is the equivalent of two dollars earned. Investigate ways you can save a few dollars here and there, then tell us what you did. My wife recently saved $56 from what was a $130 grocery bill by participating in The Grocery Game (I am so proud of her). When she does these type of things, I feel that we are a team. We are helping each other in the battle to save our finances.

sunset

3. We don’t want to be frugal ALL the time. We DO want to take you to that nice restaurant. We DO want to take a mini vacation without the kids. We DO want to shower you with flowers and chocolate. In order to do those things though, we will have to give up other things, whether that’s an additional payment on the credit card, a chunk into the Roth IRA, or rebuilding the emergency fund after needing 5 new tires (5 because one had a blowout one week after we bought it). The problem with money is that it forces us to make one choice over another. How do you chose between a short term splurge and a long term benefit? We don’t know either.

We also dream about being the Prince Charming you want, riding into town and carrying you away for a romantic weekend. We don’t voice our ideas very often, but we do look things up quite frequently and make all the mental calculations in our heads every time that Sandal’s commercial comes on. Men are more romantic than we get credit for being.

How you can help: keep us reined in if we get goofy with the money, but allow us to do some nice things with you every once in a while. Don’t talk about how much it costs, or say, “We can’t afford this.” That isn’t very romantic and it makes us feel like inadequate suppliers of your needs. That’s not a good thing, trust me. On the other hand, if we say something is too expensive, suggest less costly alternatives . . . after waiting a day or so. We may have some well defined goals in our heads that we’re trying to reach and spending money right now would delay them even longer.

4. Never embarrass us by talking about our personal financial situation to others, especially in public. That sounds kinda strange coming from someone who blogs about his personal life in front of millions of people on a daily basis. What I’m referring to here is similar to a situation my wife and I encountered on our honeymoon cruise. The couple we ate dinner with every night were newlyweds also, and he had taken a job working for her father. She mentioned that the only reason they were able to go on a cruise was that her father paid for it (ouch). She also said that they hardly had any spending money on the trip (ouch #2). One day at port we had the option of spending some time at a local beach. Towels were free–with a $10 deposit. She actually said in front of him, “We can’t even afford THAT.” He looked like the wind was completely taken out of his sails (ouch #3). Ironically, he had a $5 free chip to play at the casino and parlayed it into $500. Did SHE ever change her tune. Somehow though, I bet they didn’t make it.

It’s okay to talk in generic terms with friends, but when the conversation takes a tone of “we can’t afford anything” it’s interpreted by us as “you’re a bad provider.” We despise that more than just about anything. We would rather be unloved than disrespected. Read that last sentence one more time.

How you can help: Men internalize their thought processes and speak once everything has been sorted out in our minds, but many women have the tendency to think out loud, especially with friends. When it comes to discussing matters of money, make sure you think about what you’re going to say first and ask yourself if this could be interpreted as a lack of respect, encouragement, or support for us. We can love you better when you respect and admire us.

Lap Dog

5. Men worry that you’ll perceive us as inadequate when it comes to finances. We almost can’t handle being thought inadequate, like you cannot handle the thought of being unloved and unwanted. Rare is the man who will admit to being inadequate on anything, but especially money. We all believe we know more that the CEO, the CFO, the accountants, the financial planners. We hate having to ask for advice because down deep inside, we think that shows weakness. No man willingly shows his weakness. We always think of the little lap dog that gets scared and rolls over to show his belly. We don’t want to be like that and we certainly don’t want you to think we’re like that.

6. Money issues should never get in the way of physical intimacy. We’re already self conscious enough about making enough money, managing it right, and making sure our family is well cared for. Do I really need to go into any more detail here? And no, guys, there are no pictures to go along with this point.

If you want to create a real problem, just withdraw from us on this point. Then watch us withdraw from you.

How you can help: it’s pretty simple. Don’t confuse physical intimacy with bank balances. We need you in both physical and emotional ways that we ourselves don’t fully understand. When you “shut the door,” it doesn’t help anything.

7. Chances are, we will have very different money personalities. Some people are hoarders, accounting for every penny. Others become spenders, seeing money as a way to express love. Some are hand wringers, some are avoiders. Some are dreamers and some are planners. Let’s not polarize our relationship based on our differences and project onto each other all the negative characteristics we’ve experienced with other hoarders or spenders.

We don’t want to argue and fight with you over money. But we both need to come to an agreement on how it should be earned, spent, saved, and invested. We’ve seen and heard our parents argue over money all our lives. Our fathers worried aloud about finances while our mothers were shopaholics. Maybe Mom would hide her purchases in the back of her closet until Dad was in a good mood. Maybe she bought gifts as an expression of love. We all bring past baggage concerning money and personal finance into our relationships. Let’s make sure we don’t let this baggage drive a wedge between us.

How you can help: seek first to understand, then to be understood. That’s an old Chinese proverb but it holds very true in this case. We need to try to understand each other first. Please try to understand me and I’ll try to understand you.

Final thoughts.

When every payday rolls around (finally), do what doesn’t come naturally: sit down with your significant other and talk about money. Don’t be rude, condescending, demanding, accusatory, aloof, unresponsive, or approach this meeting with the intent to set him or her straight. It won’t work. Has anyone ever heard of a successful use of nagging? I’m talking to both men and women here because men nag too. We nag about how much those new tennis shoes cost, or why she bought the most expensive pasta sauce, or why no one can seem to turn off a light switch around here.

Talk about what money represents. Talk about what you can do. Talk about what you want to do with your money. Talk about where you see yourselves in 5, 10, 20, or 50 years. Talk about how your goals will change over time. Talk about why you want to reach those goals and how they will enrich your lives.

Don’t put it off. Life’s too short.

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 997 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.


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{ 18 comments }

Bob

You nailed me. Guilty as charged.
I do need to sit down with my wife and talk things out.
I’m just staring at a blank wall and shaking my head as I consider everything you said. Your spot on with this one.

Lynnae @ Being Frugal.net

My husband and I are fortunate in that we both realized early on that I was the more mathmatically adept person, and therefore the best person to take care of the day to day finances. We’re also blessed in that I’m not much of a talker, so I don’t go spouting off to my friends about our financial situation often. There is my blog, but my husband supports it.

I’ve had to really work on point #3 though. Sometimes my frugalness gets in the way of graciously accepting gifts from my husband.

Josh C

Great post! Very honest and truthful… I Digg it, literally and virtually. The GF and I are learning about money together and she’s as helpful and frugal as it gets (in a good way).

I noticed that your subscribers doubled ( ) with your Digg front page submission. That was pretty cool to watch. You have a great blog; keep it honest and don’t fall into the “47 best new tips for having a really neat day!” trap!

Mike

For any expenditure–be it time, money, etc–I always ask myself: What am I willing to give up for that? Like the conservation of energy from physics, there is only a limited amount of anything, so taking one thing means losing something else. By thinking about this exchange–this for that–from the start, at least I know what something costs, and that cost can include the things that I can’t have because of one decision, time available for one thing but gone for another, and so on.

Ron

Thanks Lynnae,

Honestly, I would LOVE for you to write one on 7 Things WOMEN Wish Men Knew About Money. You would be great at it I’m sure. I would really enjoy another perspective, as would the readers. Now if we could just get both posts to hit the front page of Digg . . . :)

Ron

@Josh
Okay, THAT was funny. I needed a laugh!
Thanks for noticing the subscriber count. It’s really gone up since the Digg article and I sincerely appreciate everyone who subscribes. I hope I can continue to meet and exceed your expectations.

@Mike
That’s the study of economics in a nutshell. All resources have some degree of scarcity and most of the time, making one choice precludes making another. The question is: Are you willing to be content with the choices you make? Thanks for commenting.

Jerome

Good post! I wish my wife read this post. Money is oftenly become the conflict’s cause between husband and wife. Both have to sit together and share their thoughts about money so they can understand each other.

Ron

@ Jerome
Thanks for commenting. If you want, have her read it with you. Lynnae from http://www.beingfrugal.net is writing one from the other perspective “What women wish men knew about money.” It should be coming out today.

Becky@FamilyandFinances

Very good points, especially the one about not embarassing your husband. I’ve heard that time and time again, but it’s still a hard one to remember.

Kyle

Well written Ron. You hit the nail on the head for me on several points. Especially #4, my wife did this once and I have to say I did not react very well. But we worked through it and have developed an excellent understanding that our personal finaces are just that ‘personal’. This can go the other way as well with a wife who always talks about how much money her husband earns. NOBODY wants to hear that crap! And husbands that find it flattering are typically hiding from something.

Patrick

I like your perspective here, and I also enjoyed Lynnae’s companion piece. More importantly, both articles are about more than just money. These observations and tips can be applied to just about any aspect of the relationship.

Ron

Patrick »
Thanks. You’re right, they DO apply to more than just money.

Allison

“Our fathers worried aloud about finances while our mothers were shopaholics. Maybe Mom would hide her purchases in the back of her closet until Dad was in a good mood. Maybe she bought gifts as an expression of love.”

I found your article very informative, except for number 7. The quote above just screams of stereotyping for the male and female roles in family finances of yesterday. While that stereotype might fit the typical family of the 1950′s, I don’t think it applies to most families today.

To be fair, you should have provided a counter, such as, maybe the Mom was the one worried about finances, clipping coupons, preparing brown bag lunches, along with home cooked meals, while trying to make sure they have enough saved for an emergency fund, for retirement, the kids college education, while the father spends money on boats, motor homes, motorcycles, and cars not necessary for transportation.

Ron

Allison »
Didn’t mean to sound stereotypical, but that was my experience and is the experience of many of my personal friends and acquaintances!
If you’ll look at the top of the post, there WAS a counter to my article. Lynnae from beingfrugal.net wrote a beautiful mirror article that you can access by clicking the link at the top of my post.

Thanks for pointing this out, though. I asked Lynnae to write the mirror article from her viewpoint because I recognized that mine could be seen as too “male.”

Pete

I’ve run into #4 with my wife, talking with other people about how we can’t afford this or that, or talking about how we could only go on certain trips because her parents paid for it. We’ve talked about that and I think she better understands now how that is so embarrassing for a guy when his wife is always talking about how “poor” they are. She’s gotten a lot better about it.

Ron

@ Pete
I know it can be embarrassing, but it’s important for us men to forgive them (without being asked). Most wives would never purposely embarrass their husbands but they (and we) get into this crazy contest sometimes to see who can poor mouth the most. I’ve been in the same boat as you as far as parents or in-laws paying for something. The best thing is to realize that you’re being blessed and hopefully, you’ll be able to pass it along to your kids.

savingadvice

I couldn’t tell you how often I hear friends of mine completely embarrass their husbands in front of a crowd of people by saying “we don’t have money to go to the movies,” or whatever it may be. I think this article was written very well from a male stand-point, not too harsh towards women.

Ron

@savingadvice:
Thanks, I never meant it to be harsh and wrote it from the standpoint of having a conversation with my wife! I also asked Lynnae from beingfrugal.net to write the mirror article from a woman’s perspective.

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