The I Will Teach You To Be Rich series on women and personal finance begins

Ramit Sethi

Today, I’m launching a short series on women and personal finance. 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 (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.

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  1. Plus6

    Good concept to get started with. Looking forward to the future posts this will start.


    We all have the ability to be better savers and investors no matter who we are. I look forward to reading real life examples of people who are working on and achieving their goals.

  3. Christine

    I’m looking forward to this. I meant to send in a story, but I’ve been busy.

    Finances are a daunting prospect for me – despite having a decent financial education and a fair amount of common sense, it’s a little scary to think about. It’s partly fear of the unknown and partly fear of making a horrible mistake and having it cost me terribly.

  4. Michika

    I really appreciate you taking the time to do this series. I have to admit I was on of those women whose parents didn’t teach them about money. I really look forwards to reading what you have to write, and addressing how finances are a bit different for women then men.

    On a separate note, would you ever consider writing about money strategies for people in other countries? While I love to read your page, things like Roth ROA (sp?) aren’t for me. Have you ever considered adding in asides to your articles, e.g. insead of just saying a 401K plan, adding something in brackets like (a tax sheltered retirement vehicle) so that people from other countries could go and research similar products offered in their countries?

  5. juicefairy

    Interesting post… Since you asked for a woman’s opinion, here it goes.

    I am also very emotional about my money (as noted in your post). My boyfriend hates when I come home and do my bills because I get instantly depressed afterwards. On the flip side I am excited when I pay of a credit card, have a little padding in my savings, or get a great bargain (on purses, clothing, and makeup of course). I think this is why I generally stay away from all of the information online about personal finance. I prefer not to get myself down about how I could be saving more for retirement or I should have an emergency account (which I don’t). I’d rather know where Paris Hilton is going after prison.

    I know this is a little immature but I have so many stresses about money already I don’t want to think about it anymore than I have to. Oprah and Cosmo finance tips are ok because they are short and to the point. They make you believe that it is easy. I read personal finance blogs and literally don’t understand the content sometimes!

    I didnt learn about personal finance from my parents, but that is because they don’t know a whole lot either — not because I am female. I have learned from some of their mistakes though. I am more active in saving for retirement, stay away from unnecessary credit, and keep an eye on interest rates and my credit score. While I am not looking for a rich man to take care of me maybe I do look for someone that can teach me how to do better with the little money I have (I happen to be with a man who is actively interested in finance) — jf

  6. Sarah

    I’m also interested in this series, and I’m happy to be an interviewee if you need one. I’m terrible with money — I make a decent salary but feel like I never have the money to do what I want and am frustrated with always feeling like I can’t afford to do this or that. I have no savings and lots of debt. I budget, but can’t seem to stick to the budget to save my life. I would love to figure this out. I feel like I have all the tools and information, but it never seems to work out as planned, almost as if it’s not under my control at all (though I know it is all my responsibility.) Please ask me some questions and I’ll be happy to give my perspective.

  7. Sarah

    There is a blog site that addresses this issue today:

    You may want to check here for topic ideas.

  8. christina

    Wonderful—i am glad too see this concept. I plan to post some of my experiences and lessons learned. I am the perfect example what not to do. But i have been learning and although i was never the type to get in too expensive shoes and bags i do have several because i know how and where to shop–upscale yard sales and clearance

  9. Joseph

    “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.”

    I disagree entirely with that paragraph. If you took a random man and a random woman and compared their financial goals and skills, yes, you would probably see lots of differences. But those differences would be based more on the personal circumstances and histories of the individuals, NOT on their membership of a particular gender.

    The fundamentals of good financial management are the same for everybody: figure out what you want to achieve, figure out how to achieve it, and then do it (an oversimplification, I know). You seem to be suggesting that a female’s goals are intrinsically different from a male’s simply by virtue of their differing genders. IF that were the case, then the goals of, for instance, Paris Hilton, would be similar to the goals of a single mother with four children living in government-subsidised housing, simply because they’re both women. I think we can all agree that that is not the case.

    (PS. I love the blog, keep up the good work!!)

  10. Emily

    I am different apparently – my mom is more into finance and stuff than my dad. i think he probably conceptually knows it all, but does not want to be the one deal with it. my mom’s the one who budgets, pays bills, teaches me about investing, etc.

    Interesting to note that my mom is college-educated, grew up in a stable middle-class household, married relatively late, and was the one who owned real estate before the marriage occurred.

    My dad dropped out of high school (later went back to night school and got his GED, and took some college classes later), grew up in a troubled household where his alcoholic mother and stepfather drank away the money and therefore, at 15, he had to pay his own hard-earned money to keep the lights on for the family. He also had 1 failed marriage before marrying my mom.

    Which I guess is support for the argument of some commenters that it’s sometimes not the gender, but the circumstances of the person that makes the difference.

    (this may sound like an odd match, but they actually are made for each other, BTW. ;))

  11. Jane

    I don’t know….I find this whole thing pretty sexist altogether. I am a woman. It has NEVER occurred to me that I think of money differently from anyone else. Furthermore, I feel that you’re approaching this from the assumption that women are worse with money than men or that women need more help or that somehow women approach money from a deficit of learning or intelligence. How condescending…and wrong! What is this, your charitable contribution to the “weaker sex?”

    In my marriage we are equal partners in money. I have more time than my husband right now, so I do most of the research on financial matters. I am more comfortable with risk than my husband is. I think we strike a good balance.

    I think differences lie more along educational lines rather than gender lines.

  12. Christina

    This post is not sexist at all. It’s absolute, concrete reality that men and women are “wired” differently. A good book about men and women are the “What Women Think” “What Men Think” series by Shaunti Feldhahn and Jeff Feldhahn.

  13. Emily

    But Jane – haven’t you ever heard any of your educated, intelligent, and capable female friends ever even semi-seriously say they are hoping to marry a rich guy so they don’t have to worry about money? I certainly have, and I’ve never heard a man say something like that. They may say other equally lame things about money, but not that exact thing, so that to me indicates a different approach to money between the sexes.

    Specifically, someone close to me said the only way she could afford real estate would be to marry someone who made more money than she did. Which to me is the same thing as just saying flat out you are looking to marry money because you can’t handle it yourself.

  14. Cat

    I’m looking forward to this series. I love the site and have passed it along to many friends. As a shiny new college grad 2 years ago, I was at a lost with my finances and investment situation. My mother was actually a great help in getting me situated. As much as we had some arguments on my spending habits, I was able to ensure that I had a 401K, IRA savings started and no CC debt at the age of 22, which I am grateful for. I definitely see the different money habits between my parents, but they are very open to discussing money (good or bad) with my sisters and I that it has helped us be very honest with what we have, what we can afford and what we should be saving for.

    I will not hesitate to pass this series along to many of my female friends as I am sure many of them will benefit from the advice and comments generated.

    Keep up the great work.

  15. Jane

    I guess what I take the most offense to is this statement: “The women I spoke to commented time after time that there are few accessible comprehensive places for women to learn about money” as it implies that women aren’t smart enough to access the same financial information that men do. That is just as condescending as women’s magazines! What, we need pink and fluffy in order to understand it?

    I think it’s one thing for a woman to say “I have this struggle” but quite another for a man to say “I don’t have this struggle but women do”

    And Emily, absolutely I’ve heard women say that. But I still feel that women have the same access to and ability to understand financial information that men do. Whether or not they choose to access it is another issue entirely. Creating “special for women” resources so that women can access them IS condescending and sexist.

    I am ALL for creating accessible and easy to understand financial information for people not good at math or who are busy or who want to avoid the issue altogether. I don’t agree with creating “special for women” financial information because I feel it implies that women are stupid or weak.

  16. MoonBunny

    I’m glad you’re starting this series. As a 21-year-old college student and woman, I’ve felt far too stupid when it comes to money for far too long. I started my education on my own through financial blogs like yours and also through novels, most notably “Your Money or Your Life.” My parents, though always helpful, really didn’t teach me much about money, and I have a sneaking suspicion it’s because they’re not too aware themselves.

  17. Brooke

    Also looking forward to reading your series. Several comments though:
    Some of my women friends equate “sales” to be savings. It’s not savings if you’re spending money on shoes you don’t need just because they happen to be on sale. That’s not financial planning, that’s falling for marketing ploys, and it’s still money exiting the wallet. (I’m sure men have their own vices.)
    Also, as an attorney I have seen many of my women clients who were stay at home moms, not working, with no means of support other than the husband, find themselves in a hairy dilemna if ever the marriage ends. This happens a LOT, maybe not so much in situations where both people are educated and able to get employment, but it happens quite a bit nonetheless, even among the younger generation. Women (and men) need to be educated on financial matters, regardless of their marital situation.
    Thanks for your site!

  18. Wanda

    Hi Ramit,

    Tthere is a group of blogs by 20something women that I always enjoy reading.

    Check out,,,,,,,, etc.

    I guess I feel a special affinity towards those blogs because we are all recent college grads. Any one of them would be a great addition to your women & money series.

  19. Kristina

    I think this series is a great idea, and I appreciate you doing it. The main think I appreciate is that you have enough gender sensitivity to 1) realize that there is a gender disparity in who reads your website 2) realize that this is either because your website is unintentionally gender biased (geared more toward men – makes sense given that you are a man) and/or because of gendered differences in how women and men access financial information and 3) because you decided to do something to address the situation.

    Tons of research shows that there are plenty of financial differences between men and women. These differences are the result of gender socialization in our country – not something in the DNA of women and men! As you mentioned, women earn less than men and face all sorts of discrimination in the workplace that produces this difference. Women don’t negotiate for raises as much as men do, and studies of MBAs show that this affects women’s incomes throughout their lives. In fact, women don’t feel entitled to ask for lots of things that men feel comfortable asking for in the workplace and elsewhere, and women suffer consequences for this. Women feel less financially secure about money – it’s called the “bag lady syndrome” where women worry more about becoming destitute no matter their present situation. This comes from women often being in more precarious financial situations than men and women feeling more vulnerable and financially dependent than men. Men are more likely to grow up expecting to earn a good income, expecting it to increase, and anticipating being a “breadwinner.” Women have internalized seeing endless examples of other women giving up their professional lives to take care of children, a home and a husband and then seeing those women struggle as single mothers or widows when the male breadwinner goes away. Financial companies are male-biased in tons of unconscious and conscious ways – often because it’s a bunch of men designing programs, marketing, etc with male clients in mind. Some companies (like Citibank) have recently started trying to put a gender lens on their services, marketing, etc to attract more women customers.

    Good luck with your series! Hopefully women will find it and read it.

  20. Around the PF Blogosphere: June 26, 2007 | The Sun’s Financial Diary | A Personal Finance Blog on Saving and Investing

    […] Will Teach You to Be Rich is running a series on women and personal finance and one of the stereotypes of women and money is “Women just don’t care about […]

  21. Jennifer

    Do women have different attitudes towards money than men? I don’t know – but I do know that women are “marketed” to more often than and differently from men. Then factor in the income difference between women and men, and women’s longer life expectancy… ad agencies/manufacturers/etc. attempt to take more money from women than men, despite the fact that women are statistically likely to make less money than men over their lifetimes.

    So maybe we don’t have different attitudes then men, just a different set of external challenges when it comes to making decisions regarding money. It takes a lot of work to be constantly conscious about all the messages out there telling us to spend.

  22. Lea

    Hi Ramit,

    I’m vaguely curious about where you got your stats for percentage of female v male readers. Certainly you never asked me! 😉

    The debate here about whether women and men handle money differently is bizarre, and I am wondering just how young some of your commenters are 🙂
    As a woman, we go without income (in most countries) while raising our children, for the early months or years.
    We lose out on making superannuation (err, I’m Australian – 401K?) contributions during that time.
    We can expect to live longer than our partner, so we can expect to need to make that nest egg last longer.
    We can expect to earn less than our male counterparts (although I still haven’t figured out *why*!) all through our working life, and at the same time our expenses to keep most jobs are higher (or tell me why most female newsreaders get sacked as they age, while male ones don’t. You reach a point where you can’t buy enough makeup to make you look 21 again!)

    Given all of the above – “having a different outlook’ is only to be expected!
    Its nothing to do with the ‘equipment’ nature gives us, its all to do with the forces of society that we are subject to throughout our lives.

  23. frank

    Woohoo, I’m all for it. Since the topic tends to be more controversial than usual, it may reduce misunderstandings if you use more specific/clearer wording. Disagreement on actual points are a great read, but not disagreements based on misinterpretation.
    I haven’t noticed any differences in financial habits between my female and male friends. The only trends there seems to be is with age, but looks like you thought about that a long time ago when you directly address that with this site, heh.
    I found your observation about Cosmo’s financial insights interesting and would like to see more about media/industry’s approach to women’s finances. A cause of general women’s financial patterns, or a result? Hmmm.
    As for creating financial information specialized for women, I don’t see the problem. “Specialized” does not necessarily imply “dumbed down”. This site is (I believe) specialized for college students and recent graduates, which means its content and style are created based on relevancy to its target audience. That does mean generalizing the group and assumptions made may not apply to every member, but in the end, I find it more effective at providing me content I enjoy than sites that are not “specialized”.

  24. sfordinarygirl

    I asked my female friends to email you with their stories. One of them quit her corporate job to open their own retail boutique. Even when a fire destroyed their first store, they came back and opened a second one. I think she’s got an incredible story to share with a lot of female readers about going after something you want and becoming an entrepreneur.

  25. Maxine

    Oddly enough, I was just thinking about chick-lit books today – mostly how asinine some of them are in their potrayal of women – and these are women writing about women for women so you couldn’t even really blame the ‘patriarchy’.

    Inevitably, the protaganist is some ditz who spends too much money on, I don’t know, Manolo Blahniks, and then hides her purchases from her significant (male) other. This is somehow meant to be ‘cute’, maybe even ‘feminine’ as opposed to ‘immature’ or ‘irresponsible’ not to mention the great parent-child dynamic implicit in that relationship.

    Inevitably, the love interest is some rich, successful guy or, if the protaganist is slumming it, an artist (with rich parents) who implicitly or explicitly ‘saves’ her in some way.

    There almost needs to be a study on why women feel happy to perpetuate and read about retrograde stereotypes – you’ll rarely ever have the lead character in a book targeted at males be an ineffectual, bumbling idiot who needs his female partner to rescue him from his messes (Maxwell Smart – damn, just disproved my own notion).

    Oh wait, there is a study (sort of) : The Cinderella Complex ( which is basically ‘…an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others, based primarily on a fear of being independent’.

    I’ll go out on a limb here and say that it is a real problem for some women (including myself except I’m so evolved now and over it). Taking responsibility for your personal finances is a way of stating ‘I am an adult in full control of my life and what happens to me now and in the future is due solely to my effort and my effort only’ which I suspect is a realisation that is hard for many to face.

  26. brianna

    Ok…women’s perspective.

    After graduating with a fine arts degree in Illustration, I bummed around looking for work racking up credit card bills. About 2 grand or so. Ended up bartending for about 3 years. The fact that I never made the same amount from week to week scared me from trying to make a budget. So I just didn’t.

    After finally getting a full time normal 9 to 5 job, I was making about 30K. Less than what I made bartending, but I wasn’t sure. All I know is that I was lucky I was living with my boyfriend at the time, because I never could have afforded my bills.

    Fast forward about 5 years, I’m now 28, living with my fiance. We bought a house for way cheap (150K in Fairfield County, CT, 3 bedrooms, unheard of) from his mom. He makes decent money and I’m finally up to about 40K. I have 4,000 in credit card debt and I’m planning a wedding. My money is flying out the window as I have, just in the next two months, two weddings, a baby shower, my own wedding (of which we are paying for photographer, flowers, dj, and all the other little stuff, so about 5-6K) and I’m panicking. I’m tempted to just charge it all and deal after the wedding.

    I’m sad we’re going into our life in debt like this. But I am glad we have the house. We’re in the middle of fixing it up ourselves, and we should make a decent profit.

    I want to stay home to have kids, my fiance does well, but I’m worried we’ll end up sinking. I need to go back to school to get some marketable skills to work from home. I know a little web design, but I need more program knowledge.

  27. Jen

    Great idea! I’ve been reading this web site for several months now, so count me in too as another female reader. Here’s my story:

    For one thing, I think we still haven’t completely recovered from “Leave it to Beaver” expectations, in the sense that many men believe it is perfectly acceptable to never need to learn how to cook or do laundry as long as they get married, and similarly many women believe they will never need to learn how to keep track of personal finances as long as they can marry someone who will. This is a pretty big generalization and not everyone thinks this way, but some do, and there’s no stigma attached to it… just as no one looks at me funny when I say I don’t know how to change the oil in my car, mow my lawn, or fix my toilet, no one would find it odd if I said I didn’t know anything about the stock market or investing in general.

    Anyway, I’m getting off track here– in my personal experience, many of my female friends have gone through their pre-married lives with the mentality that they would never have to learn anything about money because their husbands would take care of it. And now that they’re married, that is exactly what’s happening. They don’t have a clue how to manage money, and they have to ask their husbands for “allowances” if they want to buy anything for themselves. Eww! Meanwhile, no one taught me anything about personal finance. I got more into it after my first friend got married and I saw that I didn’t want to live my life that way– I want to be in control of my own money. Through this web site and others I’ve learned a lot just in the past few months, and I’m getting my act together– I opened a high interest savings account and an IRA because of what I read specifically on this web site. So thank you and keep it up!

  28. serpah

    I’m looking forward to whatever you write. I’ve been following your site for a while now, and I love the articles you’ve been generating so far. Especially how simple your financial advice is.

    Since saving involves a lot of personal discipline, I think it would be good to have an article about “saying no” to things. It’s really valuable to be able to deny oneself things, and this isn’t valued right now.

    I’ve been working for the past four years at a good job. I put aside 10% of my gross income into a sheltered retirement plan, a sheltered pension plan and a company stock purchase plan. I never see this money because it’s deducted at source.

    I have been finding it difficult to live within my means, and I have racked up a considerable amount of debt. Since I have inherited investments, I have always been able to pull myself back up out of my debt at the cost of selling a part of the nest egg. I became sick and tired of being in this debt cycle this Easter and I decided to take action.

    First, we sold some of my investments to pay off our lines of credit and start from scratch. We agreed on a repayment plan to pay back the investments sold, but now we have to work on making room in our budget to cover that. First order of business is to sell my expensive car (an Audi A4) and get a used Civic. Then we need to look at what else we can cut. Repayments start in September.

    I drafted a budget of all our fixed and unfixed annual and monthly expenses, and went over it with my fiancé. We agreed to contribute a monthly amount to our joint account to be able to afford our big annual bills and our fixed and unfixed monthly expenses.

    Now we have enough money to cover our bills, our car maintenance and hopefully our vacations without going into debt. But I’m finding it difficult to keep my personal expenses within the boundaries I’ve set. It’s difficult to subsist on $500 a month when I have to put aside $200 for my extra activities going on (that cost money).

    I’ve been working on finding ways to spend time with friends and go out without spending money.

    A recent post on Get Rich Slowly linked to the Working Woman’s Guide to Financial Security, which should provide some interesting advice.

  29. Simple Pound » Women and Finance

    […] for visiting! If you like what you’re reading, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed.Ramit @ I Will Teach You To Be Rich is starting a new series on women and how they handle life, money, entrepreneurship and the like. He’s asked his readers to […]

  30. Natalie

    Ramit, thank you for deciding to cover this topic. As a young professional woman, I certainly am concerned about money and investments. I read about investments and money issues myself, but have several friends (both males and females) who are completely unaware. It will be interesting to read investment information specifically geared towards women. Thank you!

  31. Sra

    You know, I didn’t think you’d actually get posts from people saying this article and the concept of the finances for women series is sexist, especially since you already threw out some of the things people might say. But you still got posts like that anyway.

    Well, I’m a woman and a feminist, and I still welcome what you’re doing here. Keep up the good work.

  32. Moneymonk

    Speaking as a women, I hate to say some of the sterotypes are true. Some women that I know love to spend money on makeup and shopping and they feel some men are ATM machines. I love to save and invest my money and create different income streams to pay off debt. Actuall personal finance is my hobby. Shopping for clothes and other thing are my least favorite

  33. J

    Umm . . . we are different. Not in terms of abilities, comprehension of superficial financial literature or even what our parents will or won’t teach us, but I think we have different values. Here’s what I mean:

    Am I the only one here who is thinking about starting a savings account for a wedding that might or might not happen? Who’s responsibiliy is it to come up with a nest egg/hope chest? Has anyone else read up on 529s or opened a few savings bonds just in case you should become preggers? Has anyone else thought about padding their emergency fund in case of an unexpected pregnancy or other female health emergency that is not generally covered by insurance? Do these extra savings needs impair your ability to buy property? How often have you been in the middle of a fight between a couple because she has this implicit expectation that he SHOULD know more about finance than she does? Have you ever found yourself equating his financial screw-ups to a sort of betrayal? How does he see yours? How often do we let our friends pressure us into really dumb purchases because they make us look cute? How high is looking good or wanting the best for your loved ones on your list of priorities? How often do we yell at our boyfriends for spending too much money on poker, video games, beer, stereo equipment, etc? How does that compare to how often they yell at us for our frivilous purchases? How do your subscriptions compare to his? Are you equally matched in risk tolerace, entreprenuralism, and frugality– and if you aren’t, does it matter more to you than it does to him? If your savings and investing habits are more conservative than his, do you rationalize it by teling yourself that women live longer than men or that we live with more risk? If he doesn’t want a joint savings account after you get married, do you interpret it as a sign of his lack of commitment? If he doesn’t max out his 401k company match or contribute his bonuses to your various joint mutual funds and you do, do you feel that he isn’t being a team player?

  34. Pursuing Excellence » Interview series with some prestigious women authors

    […] interesting so far. The series starts this week, so keep an eye on for more info. Also, I will link to each story as they are published. (Ramit’s site is one of the most […]

  35. jl

    I bought this little book for some of my female relatives and friends a couple years ago (and yes, a copy for myself as well) — ones who had mentioned that they “wish[ed they] knew more about money” and the like.
    It’s not amazing, but one of the points it does make is that women tend to be more risk-averse than men when it comes to investing. The book’s a little old now (amazon says (c) 2005, but i’m pretty sure I bought it before then), so I’d be curious to know whether you’re still reading that now, Ramit. (And if you happen to pick up the book, whether you think it’s any good.)

  36. Sue

    I have an engineering degree and 25 years of experience in both small and large companies. I’ve never married or had kids. I’ve consistently made less than my male counterparts, mostly as they get promoted before the women do, about 2 years earlier on average for all of these companies. Do I have different attitudes regarding money than a man? You betcha! I always make less, but I don’t have kids, so where my expenses are is different. That drives attitudes about money.

    The biggest difference, though, comes from my being raised working class in a home, in the 60’s mind you, where my mother had to work in order for my parents to put food on the table for their family. My mother was extremely good at budgeting and managed to squirrel away an emergency fund for the inevitable broken refrigerator/brake job/medical bill that came along. She never told my father that she had a secret savings account since she knew it was for emergencies only and my father never had the discipline to leave the money alone. She raised me to be frugal.

    All of my life, I have lived below my means. I’ve managed to save a large retirement fund, an emergency fund, and still have all of the necessities and a few of the wants. My attitude toward money was shaped more by the class of my birth rather than by my gender.

  37. Kimble

    I think this is a great idea for a series, and I fully appreciate that you would like data, but I am a little skeptical that this is a series being done by someone who is an outside observer to the female-personal-finance realm.

    That said, get and use data. Do a survey. Are women more likely to be interested in personal finance if they are unmarried? Is there an age difference (specifically in your female readership for instance)? Could the gender difference in readership be attributed to your entrepreneurial bend? Would women be more likely to read a personal finance blog that focuses on frugality? Could the link between personal finance and math be daunting to females, who tend to not choose number-heavy careers?

    I would like to think that gender differences are non-existent or rapidly disappearing, but I’m unlikely to find lipstick in a guy’s medicine cabinet. There are different pressures for females and males in today’s society and the difference certainly trickles into finances.

    Good luck!

  38. Ramit Sethi

    Kimble, those are great ideas. Would you be willing to step up and help collect that data? I’m just one guy and I’m swamped. But I’d love your help. I’ll even feature your survey or data on the front of iwillteachyoutoberich.

  39. Kimber

    I do agree that there needs to be more female skewed personal finance information (why E and I started ).

    And Ramit, I think you’re brave for trying to cover this as a guy. Have you thought about asking a female to assist you? Look over your posts to ensure that you’re not out to lunch? Maybe team up with a female PF blogger (in turn, she can ask you to help cover the male perspective, a he said/she said type of series).

    BTW…one of the chief fears that women have (unique to women, men don’t have this fear) is the baglady syndrome. Lots of research out there on the net for you to link to. A must cover as it is at the core of many of our actions (or inactions).

  40. Melanie

    I have used a budget spreadsheet since the day I stepped out of my parents home when I was 18. I think it stemmed from the fact that my family made lower-class income and didn’t appear to budget very well. I have now been married for 6 years, I am the breadwinner and the financial planner in my home, my husband isn’t even really aware of how much money we have saved or invested. When I ask him if he wants to look at the information with me he seems uninterested and says that he trusts me. We collectively agree on all purchases over $20, and we have allowances for everything else that we want to buy for ourselves. He spends his all every month, and I tend to save mine up and use it on larger purchases or spending binges. We are not similar to other couples, and I am not similar to my female friends who are single (none of them that I know of use a spreadsheet to budget, and one of them is in chronic debt).

  41. Andrea

    I, too, am heartened by your decision to broach this subject. Actually, I feel like I’ve received a well-rounded financial education from both of my parents. My mother is the frugal one and my father is the happier-go-lucky one, though he is a more than competent financial planner. He first gave me a book in which I could record my expenses and income back when I was in grade school.

  42. Elissa

    Dude, seriously?
    “Women buy clothes, purses, and makeup.”
    How is that a stereotype? Women DO buy clothes, they certainly don’t walk around naked. Women DO buy makeup… not ALL women, but in comparison to men, women are the ones who buy makeup.

    I don’t mean to bash you, but I don’t really think you’re paying attention to the message you’re trying to get across. You should spend less time trying to explain the message and more time actually delivering the message.

    And I agree with Kimble’s suggestion. Run a poll. Poll’s are super easy and a good way to collect data. It would also be a good idea to run the same poll across multiple websites/blogs. You’ll a wider variety of data that way.

  43. I Will Teach You To Be Rich » Damn. Profiles are way harder than I thought (how you can help)

    […] everyone, the profiles on female iwillteachyoutoberich readers that I’ve been working on are a lot harder than I thought. I’ve spoken to a bunch of […]

  44. Cathy

    Maybe it’s b/c I manage the finances in my family, but most of my girlfriends are at least as interested in money as their husbands. I’m actually wondering why most of your readers are men? I mean, I don’t think the fact that you have dramatically more male readers necessarily means women are less interested in money. I’ll look forward to reading your series.

  45. Het

    Hi Ramit,
    I enjoy reading your blog. I have read all your posts about 410K, IRA, Roth IRA, but I always end up feeling they are not for me. I am 26, married and my husband and I make a decent sum. We are planning to go back to India in a few years and that’s why we are not sure if we want to lock up this money in any of these instruments, since we won’t be here 20 years down the line. And we will have to pay the penalty for making an early withdrawal. We have bought two houses in India and are paying mortgage on them every month. They have proved to be a good investment so far, since they have appreciated quite a bit.
    I would like to buy a house here in the US – a place we can call home as long as we live here. Unfortunately I live in the bay area and you know what kind of prices we have here. My husband and I have not been able to make a decision if buying a house is the right thing for us. It will force us to invest, that’s a good thing. But I don’t want to feel stretched financially (we will be paying 4K a month on mortgage, whereas we pay 1k rent right now). We are currently socking away money in a high yield savings account, so that sometime down the line we can make a decent down payment, if we do decide to buy a house. I want to saving for retirement, I just don’t know if I should do that here or in India. I also want to know if there is anyway I can make use of the IRA, 401K and take the money with me when I go back to India. Can you help?

  46. kms2

    Ramit, your blog rocks. I was in SF over Memorial Day weekend and was secretly hoping I would randomly walk past you and proclaim, “You’re Ramit!! I love your blog!” But, alas, it never happened.

    Anyway, in regards to females and their finances, I studied engineering in college because I knew that I would be able to go to grad and get paid for it and then be able to get a decent job after college and be able to support myself. I never wanted to worry about finances once I finished college and so far my plan has worked for me. From a very young age, my parents always told my brother and I to track our expenses, never have credit card debt, and always pay yourself first. However, I (the female) was always more in tune with saving and caring about my finances than my brother. Even though he’s three years older, he’s finally getting into and asking me about what I do with my finances. (I told my brother to read your blog so it would be funny if he saw my comment.) So I guess everyone’s different. You can be raised in the same household being taught the same principles and it just depends on the person you are and how you prioritize things in your life.

  47. Rob Lewis

    Interesting subject – I just cam across the following article on male vs female investing which might be of interest:


  48. Lazy Man and Money

    I’m probably not supposed to take this bit from all the wonderful things in the article, but I found “I prefer to live in a world of what is rather than what should be” to be very interesting. I am of the exact opposite opinion. I feel that if I live in the world that “should be” it will become that world.

  49. Emily

    Lazy Man, you must be an engineer or scientist!

    (I am kidding, guys, don’t jump down my throat! :))

  50. israluv

    I used to be a shopaholic … I would go shopping either on my way home from work or after my commute head over to the mall. I used to be an emotional shopper until I moved across the world and have yet to adjust to shopping here. Now I make the trip back to the US about once a year and I do a massive shopping. But I save up for the shopping spree all year long and have changed my shopping habits. I am now much more of a practical shopper versus an emotional one .
    But more importantly.. I do not use credit cards (only debit cards) to make sure that what I do chose to spend my money on is something I can afford and do not have to worry about late payments, etc.
    I work hard and feel responsible for my own well being. I do not want to marry rich and accept his as mine. I want to value and appreciate the money I earn.
    But more importantly – I do not believe that all the money earned is mine to keep and I try to give 10% of my net income to charity. It is not always an easy decision to make but thank G-d I am able to earn a living where there are always those who are more unfortunate than you.

  51. Wooly Woman

    I am looking forward to your series. My only thought was that you left me out of the group who you were interested in. I am 34, and thus don’t meet your age criteria. I am a regular reader of your blog, I just don’t comment much 🙂

  52. jenny s.

    I’d like to see something about the gender gap in pay, and how women can negotiate their salaries to help cover it. In my experience, women lowball themselves when asking for salaries, and are less willing to negotiate higher pay than their male colleagues. And when they are willing to negotiate, they’re less likely to get a commensurate pay increase.

  53. Alfa

    I’d like to read more about investing on real estate for women. I’m trying its waters but I know research is not enough.

  54. Jen

    Greetings….I’m new to this blog, and was actually forwarded it by a male friend who thought I might be interested….so here it goes.

    I’m not sure that it’s really women who are not as “into” finance and money as their male counterparts…I think it’s more of a lack of education for men and women. Ponder this – we (speaking broadly here, your blg may have readers across the borders, no doubt) live in the United States, land of opportunity. We can read, write, add, subtract, choose our career paths, and do virtually WHATEVER we want for a living. When do we learn how to manage our money? In that one high school marco-economics class? In the one social science elective we took in college?

    Seriously, how can anyone in this country be expected to know how to save or budget or be fiscally responsible if our parents didn’t instill it in us at a young age? I’m a lucky one. At 25 I have a husband, a house, an IRA, 401K, and money to live and spend as I wish. I think this is largely to do with the fact that my parents were thrifty when I was growing up, and it rubbed off. My husband comes from the opposite spectrum – parents not so financially savvy, but he took it upon himself to get educated on finances and now is much better than I am!

    I know plenty of women who are “bad” with money, but I probably know an equal number of men who are worse. From sports cars to subprime loans for huge houses to flat panel HDTVs, I think it’s hard to say that women are worse than men. I think women like Suze Orman are working hard to change this perception of women and money and I absolutely commend her.

    Overall, I think the bigger problem is a lack of education for both men and women on how to handle and manage finances, bills, budgets, etc…

  55. I Will Teach You To Be Rich » Tell us how you think about money — I’ll post results next week

    […] I started the series on women and personal finance, Kimble wrote, “I am a little skeptical that this is a series being done by someone who is an […]

  56. Radhika

    I just found your blog today and I have found it useful in a number of ways, particularly as I am in the midst of sorting out my financial life. It is interesting that you are posing this question with regards to gender and financial matters. My sister and I both grew up in a privileged household with parents who had the luxury of not considering money on a day to day basis. While my mother tried to instill a sense of financial responsibility, neither of my parents lived by example (ie. they didn’t balance their checkbooks and often forgot to deposit large checks etc. and the pattern continues to this day). I took these bad habits with me through college and three years of graduate school and as a result, accumulated debt. Each time the debt grew to cumbersome, my parents bailed me out (with lots of yelling etc.), but still I had a safety net that I relied on extensively. Now that I am married, my situation has changed considerably. My husband is an academic, and I am an urban planner. Professionals we are, but not highly paid. We live on a budget, but it has been made difficult by the bad habits I have carried on into our marriage. My sister has a similar situation. We both have discussed how we feel mystified and confused by money, and we both treat money as something that seamlessly passes in and out of our lives. In an effort to try and learn about money and to control money instead of the other way around, I am reading this blog and others. I look forward to hearing about the findings you uncover from your survey, and for postings from you that can help women like me navigate the murky waters of financial matters.

  57. Kiyote

    In my experience women tend to, on average, plan for financial security while men seem to plan for opportunity. I’ve known a fair number of men and women (of which I do not count myself to be a member of) who were very good at saving. The men tended to have specific goals in mind, like “I’m going to be saving up for a new car,” or “I need to start planning for retirement,” while the women who saved did so more on a matter of principle, saving up for a rainy day, or being able to pay their bills on time.

    This doesn’t mean that I haven’t know girls who are consistently saving up for something (my sister being a prime example) or guys who saved money for the sake of security, it just seems that more fall along this line

  58. a south asian woman

    i don’t like money. i’m the major earner as my husband is an entrepreneur who hasn’t really taken off, and is also at b-school. we’re in our early 30s. we’ve no debt, car paid off, don’t own home (a choice, coz suburbia is depression, and homes tie you down and middle-class homes are deeply unaesthetic in this country. we’re not american.), paying for school with my earning. i love to travel. i love art, music and film. as i said, i don’t like money. its annoying, common people size each other up based on how much they make, its annoying to negotiate, its too much work to think about, and most people, men and women that i deal with at work and in my creative projects seem to talk only in terms of the money value of things, which is so boring. investing is boring. finance is such a dry subject. money is boring. people who obsess over money as their primary interest are of no interest to me. i hate doing taxes. people are annoying, because, even when they have enough money, they want to take from others and maximize their earnings. charity is done so that people get tax deductions, it has nothing to do with charity. everybody just wants more.

    my retirement plan? i enrolled in the 401k thing at work with a default setting thee company gives, coz i thought it was part of my formalities to be completed for accepting the offer at this company (i hate my job, btw. annoying tech job.). i don’t care to check how the money’s being invested in by this plan, because that’s boring, i’d rather surf the web. i dont plan to retire. retirement is for boring people. i will work until i drop dead. and if i’m not making enough to stay alive, or if i’m disabled, then i’ll find a way to die anyway. i don’t consider my spouse as the backup plan for finances. there was an annoying financial planner we met once, who said (about saving money for retirement): do you want to be cool at 30 or secure at 50? is he f*ing kidding me? if you don’t live life at 30, what good is it to turn 50?

    i am not being frivolous. i just find the world has taken on a boring structure due to people’s desperation for hoarding cash. this is not interesting to me.

  59. Lauren

    This is a really interesting series. I did some similar research and came up with very similar results. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to admit that those stereotypes exist. There is so much more financial stuff geared towards guys and I think this is interesting that you are gearing this towards women and the particular issues that we have.

  60. Another south asian chic

    It is interesting how many females say here they hate to think about money and finances, yet they don’t mind the freedom or the life it affords. Maybe I am eccentric then, coz I totally want, and have control of my finances (even though I am married to a very financially savvy guy who could think for both of us if needed). I like reading WSJ or cnnfn or PF blogs and books. Though I am not into day trading, but understanding basic market moves /running simple numbers is something I like to do out of curiosity. Stereotypes exist…for both males and females…but as a person looking for useful info I believe I don’t have have to depend on a women magazine if all the advice/info it gives is crappy.

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