The gender gap in personal finance

July 17, 2009

womenmoneyIt’s not surprising that men and women handle their personal finances differently. Yet, data collected by the employee benefits company Financial Finesse shows that men trump women when it comes to managing their wallets.

Out of the 3,500 U.S. workers polled, 90 percent of men said they pay their bills on time each month compared to only 74 percent of women. Also, 71 percent of men said they have a handle on their cash flow so they spend less than they earn each month, while only 53 percent of women could claim the same.

Manisha Thakor, a Houston-based finance expert for women, explains that women tend to be less educated in personal finance.

“Men talk socially about money and business,” said Thakor. “Women are talking about nurturing subjects.”

Also, women are paid less than men, making such things as paying bills and credit card balances harder, she said.

Who handles finances better in your household?


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

It’s a no-brainer! Men as the traditional hunter-gather or bread-winner know how hard it is to make the money. Women as the traditional spenders don’t. You only have to look at how many pairs of shoes men own versus how many women own. Men are genetically programed to be more sensible.

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive

Did the polling take place at an old timers men’s-only club? (Insert cough from cigar smoke)

I am better informed on the principles of finance and economics compared to my girlfriend, but she is much better at saving and managing money. I, however, have taken classes in finance and economics for my masters in Public Administration whereas she earned her masters in Speech Pathology, that is the only reason I am better informed.

If you want to look at it from an evolutionary perspective (To Peter H.), then women should be better at managing the resources that men bring home. We will just go back to patrolling the perimeter not sitting around dividing the resources between the group.

Posted by Eric | Report as abusive

Men tend to marry for beauty; women tend to marry for stability. Ergo, women who want to get (or stay) married need to spend a lot of money on personal grooming. Haircuts, highlights, waxing, mani/pedis, sexy dresses, and high-heeled pumps — you cannot believe how much this stuff costs. Combine that with the fact that women are generally paid less than men, and you can see why young women in entry level positions may struggle with cashflow. Ask yourself if you’d rather marry an ugly girl with a good stock portfolio or a pretty girl who doesn’t pay her bills on time, and you’ll see what I mean.

I would venture to guess that these gender inequalities dissipate with age.

Posted by Lisa | Report as abusive

Consider for a moment that there is approximately a 15% point difference is self reporting between the men and women. I’d wager to guess that this is the selfsame 15% of men that think they are God’s gift to women but really aren’t.

If these were credit bureau verified then I would probably have bit more faith in them. However I would say personality would play a much larger role in personal finance than a person’s sex does.

My parents are self made multi-millionaires. They did this because Mom takes care of the money. She also has an accountant background. Dad earns it, Mom wisely spends it. They agree to goals together and accomplish them. One system they have consistently come up with is the your, mine and ours fund. Most of the money goes to ours and takes care of our expenses, however a little bit goes to each to spend how they want. No questions asked.

Lisa also has a point of what type of gal most men want to marry. Of course I’d rather pick the less attractive physically girl with the good stock portfolio, but she’s right that most men don’t feel that way.

Posted by nika | Report as abusive

I know men who spend more money, than what they earn each month.
I also hear women complain, that their husbands buy big toy items for themselves, that they are not concerned if there is enaugh money left for food. children’s clothing or dental care. I believe it is an individual thing, that has nothing to do with jender. And look who is complaining. If the wives can’t budgett money, then the man should do it. people need to learn to work together, or go to counseling. men and women have an equal % of shopoholic syndrom.

Posted by adelheid pflueger | Report as abusive

“I would say personality would play a much larger role in personal finance than a person’s sex does.” -Nika

Perhaps, but I would say it is likely that a person’s sex plays a much larger role in personality than most anything else does.

Posted by Steven Harder | Report as abusive

You do make an excellent point Steven Harder. How much of personality is innate and how much is forced by the perception of society?

I can only speak from my personal experience. My personality is much like my fathers, while my sisters if much like my mothers. We are however of the same sex, as my parents had no sons.

My parents believed in teaching me everything they could, from sports and mechanics to homemaking and cooking. Some things I took to well, others, not so well. The one lesson I did really benefit from is that no one will take as good of care of me as I will of myself.

Posted by nika | Report as abusive

Have I meet women that spend frivolously? Sure. But not all women spend frivolously. Have I meet men that spend frivolously? Of course. It seems to be far too easy to extrapolate such anecdotes to the entire gender in question.

I have to share a personal experience. I worked through engineering school as an apprentice in a machine shop in the deep south. I wasn’t a local boy, so I spent a lot of time just observing how things were. Most of the men had wives that stayed at home or worked very low wage jobs (average wages are much lower in the south for semi-skilled work or the trades). Without exception, those men took their paychecks home to their wives, who gave them a small allowance and managed the household finances.

Hang around a military base and you will find enlisted soldiers wives performing small miracles to stretch their husband’s salaries to make ends meet.

Paper money and modern consumerism is far too recent an invention for evolution to have anything to say on the subject.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

INANE! Men-are-from-mars-women-are-from-venus economics…

Posted by Malthus | Report as abusive