How Women Really Feel About Money

Over the weekend, I read an article published on Slate about women’s hesitation with their finances. The writer – herself female – brings up some intriguing points, like the fact that women might not feel secure dealing with money because of the way they were brought up. She also discusses how low confidence in the workplace (as we all know, women are still extremely underrepresented in the overall work force) plays a factor in a woman’s relationship with money. However, while those things are problematic, do women actually feel weird about money, even in 2014?

The Slate article brings up a Psychology Today study which illustrates how high-school students feel about finances. The study actually shows that both girls and boys are equally skilled in math, yet boys tend to answer that they feel “pretty good” with money, while girls responded by saying they are “not very good” with money. Although it’s super important to question where this study was held, and how many schools were used, it still makes me uneasy that any study would yield such disappointing results. Even Jezebel points out that women are just as capable as men as far as money goes, but we are more scared of taking risks.  

Personally, money doesn’t confuse, confound, or scare me. I make it, I set some aside for savings, I pay bills, I buy necessities (Girl Scout cookie ice cream counts as a necessity right?), and then I’ll splurge on frivolous things if there is any extra money at the end of the month. No, I’m not married, nor do I have kids. But I live with my fiancée, and we deal with splitting rent and groceries together. Never, at any point, am I nervous about dealing with our finances. I always know what’s going with my bank account, so I’ve never had to ask or depend on anyone to sort my finances for me.

So, what’s up with these results suggesting women don’t feel comfortable around money? Is money truly a “guy” thing? Would women feel better if they were with a guy who deals with their finances? This seems suspicious to me, because I know for a fact that many of my girlfriends are super hardworking, and would never let their significant others be their banker. Our lives aren’t Monopoly, and we shouldn’t simply hand over our financial responsibilities to men.

Although the Slate article suggest that women are still “adjusting” to what is ours, I can’t say I fully agree. In a Daily Finance article, Molly McCluskey illustrates a recent survey that 90% of female investors felt “quite confident or level-headed about managing their portfolio.”

When it comes to spending, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that personal spending between men and women evens out. Even if women do spend more on clothing, men will typically spend more on eating out, and transportation. And as far as debt goes, men and women are almost equally guilty. 76% of women have run into credit card debt compared to the 67% of men. Yeah, women’s debts are a little bit higher, but not by much. Furthermore, after the recession in 2008, Empathica (a form which provides consumer insights to retailers) found that 72% of women reduced their spending, compared to 62% men. What I’m trying to say here, is that gender has nothing to do with how “good” we are with money.

I think what the problem is, and why so many young women easily admit they are not comfortable around money, is that we are determined as a society to not be comfortable with money. For so long, men have held high-power positions at work while women could not. It’s been different for awhile, though. Women comprised 51.5% of management and professional positions and almost 15% (this is still not okay, but certainly an improvement) of executive positions in 2012. Women are just as capable as men are when it comes to finances, so maybe we stop leaning on the assumption that we’re not.

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