We’ve all heard the expression “women are from Venus and men are from Mars.” It’s a saying meant to point out the drastic personal differences between the sexes. As it turns out, however, men and women don’t just vary in their personality traits, individual habits and emotions. According to a survey from Prudential Financial, there are also major differences between women and men when it comes to money matters.
Here’s a snapshot of four ways males and females are polar financial opposites.
#1: We Have Different Financial Concerns
If you ask the average woman, we’re likely to say that our main financial worry is about household bills and debt—you know, the everyday things like credit card payments, the house note or student loans.
For men, household bills didn’t rank among their top worries at all. Their main economic worry is about the overall economy and the financial state of affairs in the country.
Women are probably most concerned with household finances because women are largely in charge of managing the family budget. According to Prudential’s study, 95% of women tend to the family’s finances—either on their own, or in partnership with their spouses and significant others.
The study also noted that, like it or not, the majority of women (53%) are now the primary breadwinners in their homes too.
#2: We Differ in Our Financial Confidence Levels
One stark difference highlighted in the Prudential survey concerned the confidence levels men and women possess when it comes to money matters.
Almost half of all men surveyed—45%—said they were “well prepared” to make wise financial choices for the future. Yet precious few women felt the same way; only 20% of women expressed such confidence.
Part of the reason women lack financial confidence is because many females are well versed when in the language of Wall Street. That’s not a knock against women. It’s just a statement of fact.
Think about it for a moment: how many of us women grew up talking about stocks, bonds or mutual funds? Even today, as adults, it’s not as if most women get together simply to talk investments. (I recognize, of course, that some women are very financially savvy, but I’m referring to the vast majority of women.)
So boosting our level of financial literacy would go a long way toward increasing women’s financial confidence.
#3: Our Investing Techniques Differ
Not surprisingly, perhaps, women and men have differing investing styles and various investing strategies.
For the most part, women they don’t see themselves as investors per se. Women are more likely to describe themselves as “savers,” according to Prudential’s research. And even when women do invest, it’s mostly to buy conservative investments. Women under 35, in particular, were more likely to call themselves investment “novices.”
By contrast, men invest far more aggressively, and they were twice as likely as women to proclaim that they actually enjoy the “sport of investing.” Plus, only a tiny fraction of men (3%) called themselves investing “novices” or “beginners.” But more than four times as many women (13%) said that label accurately reflected them.
One way to move from the “novice” role to a more seasoned, knowledgeable investor is to get good, trustworthy financial advice from a knowledgeable financial professional.
#4: We Have Big Disparities in Our Paychecks
Among the roughly 2,000 women and men surveyed by Prudential, the average man had a paycheck that was about 11% higher than the typical woman’s.
The downside for men, though, is that they’ve been harder hit by job loss during the recession. This explains, in part, why women are the primary breadwinners in more than half of all U.S. households.
But the takeaway here—for both men and women—is that no matter how big or how small your paycheck, you’ll be a lot better off in the long run if you manage your finances wisely and educate yourself about investing, asset-building and wealth preservation.
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