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What separates men and women when it comes to household finances?

What separates men and women when it comes to household finances?
Gregg Greenberg
March 18, 2024

Survey finds that women report feeling the most knowledgeable when it comes to paying bills, maintaining good credit, and saving for emergencies.

Men are powered by confidence while women are driven by stress when it comes to handling financial decisions, a new study shows.

According to a New York Life Wealth Watch survey released Tuesday, confidence is the primary emotion that men report feeling about managing their household finances (45%), while stress is the leading emotion for women (38%). The survey also found that women report feeling the most knowledgeable when it comes to paying bills, maintaining good credit, and saving for emergencies.

That said, the study showed that women say they feel significantly less knowledgeable than their male counterparts about building wealth, creating investment portfolios, understanding protection products like insurance, and legacy planning.

“Financial wellness is a journey, not a destination,” Jessica Ruggles, corporate vice president of financial wellness at New York Life, said in a statement. “This is especially true for women’s financial journeys, as we see women making progress in their savings and spending, while facing major societal challenges and unique life events that impact their financial strategies.”

Adrianna Adams, head of financial planning at Domain Money, finds it disheartening, although not surprising, to see there’s still a significant disparity in confidence between men and women when it comes to building wealth and implementing long-term financial strategies.

“From the start of my career, I realized that there was a significant shortage, not only of women in the finance industry, but also women who were particularly interested in investing, the stock market, and financial planning in general. This is a huge part of what has fueled my passion for bringing financial education to my peers, friends, and family,” she said.

Adams says she finds her clients are most confident when making financial decisions after they’ve discussed a variety of options, and she has articulated which solution would be the best fit for them and why.

“I also find that most women like to see the options and visualize the implications of each decision,” she said.

Elsewhere, the study showed that women report confidence in managing day-to-day finances, including paying bills (88%), maintaining good credit (75%) and saving for emergencies (74%), but they feel less knowledgeable about long-term financial topics, including building wealth (49%), managing investments (45%), legacy planning (42%) and annuities (40%).

Meanwhile, the study said married men (61%) are more likely to report they are making all or most of the financial decisions within their household, compared to 38% of married women. And the study showed that married women (53%) are more likely to report that they split the decisions with their partner, compared to 32% of married men.

Overall, the study revealed that about 4 out of 10 married women (43%) wish they had a larger role in making the financial decisions for their household.

Maya Joelson, wealth manager and global investment strategist at Savvy Advisors, says that since women are more often responsible for the household budget, it makes sense that they associate stress with finances, especially in an era of rising inflation.

“In contrast, many investment decisions are not short term and tangible but long term, in which the impacts of the decision may not be known for many years,” Joelson said. “For instance, selecting options in your 401(k) or retirement plan does not come due until your retirement. So, there is a luxury in making long-term decisions unlike short-term budgeting issues which the women report that they have the most control and responsibility over. This does not mean women are not as good as men at long-term investment decisions.”

As for the one area where men and women proved equal?

Both married men and women report spending an average of six hours per week managing household finances, the study said. So there’s that.