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13 stunning differences in how men and women think about money

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Digg this!

Thanks to the 35+ comments on the last post, Rob from BankSwitcher (“Switching banks is hard…we make it easier”) was kind enough to re-analyze the data from my survey on gender and money (n=1,167).

Below, you’ll see red highlighting around areas where there are dramatic gender differences. For example:

  • Slide 10: Guess who negotiates their salary more?
  • Slide 12: Indulgences by gender
  • Slide 16: Feelings towards money are dramatically different
  • Slide 19: What personal-finance topics do men vs. women prefer?
  • Slide 25: Absolutely staggering differences in perceptions of equal pay

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  1. I’m having fun playing with the results of the survey recently fielded on this blog. And I can see from the comments that many people want to see the results. There’s tons of interesting stuff to analyze, but a word of caution: the sample was “self-selected” and therefore shouldn’t be projected to represent larger populations, such as “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” readers specifically, or an entire gender of the US population. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the results. For example, there are strong differences between genders that will be very interesting to explore.

    I found Q10 (“What are your feelings towards money and finance?”) a great question for analysis. Respondents were presented with seven attributes (Indifference, Anxiety, Apprehension, Confusion, Confidence, Exhilaration and Depression) to choose from (multiple responses were accepted). I respect decisive people, so when given the opportunity to click seven boxes, I notice those who’ve clicked only one. And while a surprisingly high 68% of respondents had the resolve to click only one box, it’s the cocksure 39% (456 respondents out of 1,171) that just clicked “Confidence” who have piqued my interest the most. What’s behind their bravado? From the survey, we learn these respondents — I’ll call “The Singularly Confident” — are more likely to:

    • Keep up-to-date with financial news. People are confident in subjects they know something about. That’s why these folks consume more finance-related content than their less certain counterparts (see Figure 1).

    • Plan for the future. Sadly, I’m 43 and would have been an outlier on this survey. But given the age-range of most respondents (18 – 31), I was surprised how many indicated that saving for retirement was a priority (see Figure 2). I remember way back to my 20s… my financial priority was saving to buy a house. [Many people think buying a house is an excellent investment towards retirement. Except small children appear once you move in — which is not good for retirement.] Thankfully, these respondents are realistic — fewer expect anyone else to support them during their golden years (see Figure 3).

    • Think like capitalists. I love how their capitalist attitudes show up everywhere. For example, this group is more likely to negotiate their own salaries (see Figure 4); have “good” debt (see Figure 5); and compared to others, they’re more likely to want to read about investment-oriented topics (see Figure 6).

    To view Figures 1 – 6:

    Of course, everybody aspires to feel confident when it comes to money and finance. The Singularly Confident feel good about themselves because they keep up with the financial world, have long-term investment strategies and act in their own best financial interests. To feel more confident, I’m going to revisit the assumptions behind my current retirement plan (at least 3 years old) and move a personal finance book (The Automatic Millionaire) from the bottom of my book pile to the top (and adopt at least two suggestions from that book). I think that’s a good place to start.

    By Rob Rubin, CEO of Facilitas Inc., a NYC-based technology start-up.
    Facilitas has introduced the first-ever technology to make it easier to switch banks. Check out the beta at

  2. […] Click here to check it out Bookmark using Digg It! […]

  3. Is there any way to see a bigger version of the slide show? It’s impossible to read.

  4. @ Paul

    Click on the icon “on SlideShare” and it will take you to the SlideShare page where the slides are more readable.

  5. Paul: You can click over to SlideShare to see it there. SlideShare has a link to “full” that gave me a nearly full-screen window but still had a small slide (browser compatibility?). I ended up downloading the PowerPoint file from SlideShare and viewing it in NeoOffice (a Max port).

  6. I love this survey! As a female, I am not surprised by any of the results really. I realize through my interactions with clients and friends that women think about money very differently than men do (like they tend to worry more about having enough, and they are more likely to feel unsure about their abilitiy to manage money). I was very interested to see how women’s priorities are different though–like how they put “travel” at the top of those lists. Great info.

    I do think the discrepencies in equal pay perceptions are a little surprising. I thought it was a given (even to men) that women get paid less. This discrepency has been proven over and over and is evident from the first year of the first job out of college–when men and women have the exact same resumes and work experience and before women have taken any maternity leave. There are a variety of possible explanations of course (like the fact that women are far less likely to negotiate their salaries), but it’s interesting how many men don’t acknowledge this situation…

  7. Thanks for re-visiting the data and following-up; very interesting these comparisons. Like Meg above, the salary data sparked my surprise.

  8. I still stick to my original assertion several posts ago that some of the questions were worded in a way to direct the survey taker to provide a certain response. I wasn’t very surprised by the gender specific results.

    One that struck me as funny that I’ll share with my wife because it relates to our own relationship… who stresses more about finances by gender. I always argue that I stress more because I’m the sole breadwinner for the family and it’s my duty to provide financially for the family’s current needs as well as our short and long term savings goals. My wife always argues that there’s more stress on her because I’m the one bringing home the paycheck, so she must be extra careful with spending on our needs vs wants, so that we have some money to put away for the future. Financial stress comes in many forms.

  9. As a mid 20’s person living in sydney i find some of this data isnt applicable here. In terms of earning more/less between genders it is equal from what i’ve experience here – I have in fact been privy (i’m in the recruitment industry) to many cases where an employee that is male earns less than a female for doing more/similar work.

    The negotiation of salary differs too, I find women wont bring it up in the initial interviewing/hiring process but instead will work for some time and make the most of training opportunities before asking for a raise. I think the female approach is more advantageous here.

    Metro women here are incredibly fashion and consumerist based, I honestly do not understand how they can support themselves all while wearing such expensive clothes. Men pour more money in to cars and gadgets and I think all could really be a bit smarter in their financial habits – but i guess the attitude is that you are only young once.

    Working in the recruitment industry i’m very sad to be seeing charts like this as it further enforces that women are on uneven footing in terms of salary and financial ability versus men – which simply is not true. I do believe that obsessive/focussed men, a minority, would tip the scales in some cases, but I enjoy the distributed approach of women much better and find this makes for a much better lifestyle and stability in the workplace as well as financially.


  10. to Meg and numerous others who still think it’s a given that women get unequal pay: this most likely is highly exaggerated, if not outright false. Women do earn less money _on aggregate_. ie. if you take the median pay for women and men, women earn less. This holds true within industries, professions or job functions. But that’s only one part of the story, and not the part that matters within this discussion. The aggregate median pay is a good measure of aggregate median pay (duh), but an entirely wrong measure of existence of discrimination or even inequality.

    A major reason for the discrepancy is the fact that women _choose_ jobs which pay less, they _choose_ to work fewer hours, and they _choose_ to get out of the workforce. 90% of unskilled or low-skilled workers in relatively high-paying but deadly jobs (mining, construction, etc.) are men, whereas women choose to be less-paid but safe bank tellers and secretaries. Study after study has shown that women work fewer hours in most (all?) industries by choosing flext-time, part-time jobs, or take longer sabbaticals and have maternity leave. And the women who get out of the workforce to bring up children don’t earn money. (Yes, they produce a valuable service to the society, and as such they most likely should be compensated, but that’s another discussion.) Hypergamy also has a role in the fewer working hours and higher opting out rates. I am not aware of studies of its effects on pay levels, only of its existence even in the west.

    When all of these factors are taken into account, the wage gap is exposed as the myth it is. In fact, my educated (MSc in economics) guesstimate is that in Nordic countries – where the aggregate average pay level between the sexes is almost the same – women earn more money per hour worked than a man in the same position.

    So, instead of demonizing men as money-grabbers and a bunch of good-old-boy networkers, it would be much more conducive to study why women choose to opt out of higher wages. Understanding the reasons we could lure more women to produce goods and services civilization demands. Promoting the wage gap myth will hurt women themselves in the long run, and the society as a whole through skewed productivity/pay relationship.

    And let’s not forget that money is not everything: a stay-at-home mom produces a much more valuable service to the society than someone working at McDonald’s, although it is not reflected in her pay. Hell, I’d claim she’s more valuable to the society than the average engineer! On an individual level perhaps some women have found out that fewer working hours equal higher standard of living. It is women, after all, who live longer and have lower suicide rates.