Are Men and Women Different When It Comes to Managing Money?

iVillager Jan says it's a "great topic to start a third world war over ..." and it did spark some heavy-duty debates.

"We Are Individuals"

Many of you claimed that, "It's not gender, it's your personality and upbringing." iVillager kelli sums up that argument:

"This is most definitely an issue that goes beyond gender and up-bringing. I know both women and men who mismanage money . . . A person is a person, not a gender. We are individuals."

Shannoneve adds, "The differences are mostly in how you were raised, (but) I guess your money role models tend be the same gender as you."

Kathleen chimed in with, "I don't think it has to do with being men or women. I do think, though, that boys, when they are young, are encouraged more in the mathematics area (at least that was true in my elementary school). I know that I get intimidated by accounting, etc., for no reason! I got lost in math when I was about 8 years old and I never caught up. Yet, paradoxically, I am quite good with my own money."

Women More Practical?

Our second-largest camp consisted of women who felt that, as JB says, "generally speaking men spend money on the things they want first, and women spend money on the things they need first."

Kris gave us this example from her own life: "He spends money on all his hunting 'necessities' and tells me to limit how much we spend on groceries to save money."

When the Money Is His...

We also heard from many women who do not contribute income, but manage the family finances.

When Money is His...(continued)

"I feel guilty buying things for myself, even things like diet Coke (I am the only one who drinks it) because I don't have a job that earns an income. Nothing makes me feel more worthless than knowing I am spending someone else's money and everything we have, we bought together; the appliances, furniture and car are his and I don't have a dime to my name," says iVillager wamot.

KaLestra adds, "He sees the things that I want to be less important than the things that he wants, so getting myself a nice dress or for that matter redoing our kitchen chairs (which look horrid and are down to just the foam) is low priority. I am glad that he doesn't say that just because I don't have a job I can't get what I want, but sometimes I feel that it is implied."

Separate or Shared Finances?

This discussion brought up the question of the best way for men and women to manage joint finances.

Some of you argued for shared finances: "I know some people go into a marriage saying they want separate checking accounts in case it doesn't work out. Some of you will find this naive, but I can't imagine entering a marriage without complete faith that it will work out. That's just me," Meg says.

Others, like TWNKathyW have discovered the benefits of splitting finances. "I recently opened my own checking account and now I don't have to feel guilty for spending anything on myself. I know that sounds old fashioned, but there are so many control issues with money! Who ever has it in household has the power, or so it seems."

"Goddess" Finds Solution

Another member feels "like a goddess" for working out a system with her partner. "Now, we have two joint accounts: one for checking, one for savings. We each have a separate account at a bank of our choice, too. The joint checking account is for the bills (all are directly debited, so I don't have to worry about it) and savings is for all the money for groceries, car, travel allowance and misc. house money. At the beginning of the month, I split all the money into the accounts and then keep $500 for each of us for personal spending. This new plan also includes investment savings, savings for things that we both want (that we've agreed on) and emergency Once-A-Year costs that I hashed out."

This system has "saved us from one person being in control of the money, and he's a lot calmer now, too. Oh -- and for all the independent ladies, you'll be happy to know that our investment money also gets split into two equal accounts: one for him, one for me."

Finally, Karyn was among those who argued that a woman should always retain some independence:

"I just think it's important for women to be able to take care of themselves -- to be able to do the things that men have traditionally done -- because there may come a time when we have no other choice BUT to do these things ourselves. It's becoming more common for women to take over the financial side of things in a marriage though, so congrats to those women. We just need to keep our independence, even when we're part of a long-term relationship."

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