Today, I’m launching a short series on women and personal finance as announced here. Why? Part of it is wanting to balance out the ratio of male and female readers. Part of it is anecdotal, with my female friends seeming to pay just as little attention to money as my male friends.
You’ll notice in the comments of my last post that certain commenters were worried about this being a hit job on women. Please, give me a break. That’s exactly why I asked for real women to interview about their money habits. While not scientific, this is hardly about berating women for poor money management. If that were the case, I’d rather berate women and men. Why limit it?
But let’s also keep it real. Too many people tiptoe around the gender issue when it comes to money, pretending that men and women are the same. I prefer to live in a world of what is rather than what should be. The whole idea of men and women being the same is ridiculous — we’re not. We earn different amounts, we worry about different things, we have different attitudes towards money, and we buy different things. So before we begin, I thought we’d just list all the stereotypes about women and money out there so we can dispense with them once and for all. To get these, I asked female iwillteachyoutoberich readers what society thinks of women and money.
Stereotypes about women and money from female iwillteachyoutoberich readers
“Women buy clothes, purses, and makeup”
“Women are flighty and not conscientious about their money”
“Women actually handle their money just as well as men. They just don’t make a big deal out of it.”
“Women just don’t care about money.”
“Women are more generous with their time than men. Men prefer to write a check, but women will donate their time.”
“Women just want a rich guy to take care of them.”
“Financial media is geared towards men. For example, I read Kiplinger’s Magazine and it seems like there’s a guy in the suit on the cover.”
Some of these are patently absurd, like the idea that “women don’t care about money.” Talk to any woman and you’ll see that’s not true. But let’s not be so quick to dismiss all of these stereotypes. I guarantee that there are going to be commenters who flame this post, saying “RAMIT, YOU’RE SO STUPID/INCONSIDERATE/IGNORANT FOR LISTING THOSE STEREOTYPES. DON’T YOU KNOW THEY SET WOMEN BACK 50 YEARS?!?#*%#*@!*#?”
Sorry, but I’d prefer to address these head-on instead of pretending the stereotypes don’t exist. So here’s what I’ve learned from my interviews so far:
Women are intimately concerned with money. Not just the self-selected ones who responded to my post, either, but even their friends. It’s just that many choose to ignore their concerns for another day. Sort of like men.
Emotion and money seems to be inextricably tied together for the women I spoke to, much more so than for men.
There are few good role models for women and money when it comes to sensible banking, budgeting, investing, and saving. I read Oprah, I read Cosmo, I read a bunch of women’s magazines. The pieces of advice are trite and patronizing. “Put aside $10 for a rainy day!” The women I spoke to commented time after time that there are few accessible comprehensive places for women to learn about money. Also, parents don’t seem to instill the idea of financial education into daughters. Almost every woman I spoke to mentioned that she had had to learn about money on her own, a daunting task.
With that said, all the information anyone needs to get started is available online for free. It’s too easy to say “nobody taught me what to do.” The personal-responsibility zealots have a point: We do need to step up and learn this stuff on our own, and it’s easier now than ever before.
I hope you can see that I’m trying to be fair about what I’ve learned so far. But I’m not an expert on women and money: I started researching this about a week ago, I spoke to a few women, and I read a few books/magazines. If you think I’ve stepped over the line or you have data to contradict me, please leave a comment.
But I want to use this to start a dialogue about why I have so few women readers on iwillteachyoutoberich.com (and why few of my female friends talk about money).
Please tell your female friends about this series on iwillteachyoutoberich. If you can do one favor for me, please ask your female friends to come and comment on the series. This should be less about me and more about the comments of real women who can tell us what’s on their mind.
Coming up: interviews with female iwillteachyoutoberich readers, female entrepreneurs, and anything interesting that readers submit.