Women, Men and Money

Ever listened to ordinary, non-finance men and women talk about money?

F: So, two kinds of retirement plans, Roth and … — I can’t remember what it’s called, but
M: A individual retirement plan? An IRA?
F: Right.
M: Also 401(k)s, which let workers set aside some of their pay for before-tax savings.
F: OK, so, not a 401(k), I’m pretty sure. I think. So anyway, you have to decide each year how much or whether to shift from a Roth to a — no wait. From the regular to the Roth, so you don’t get slammed when
M: You mean converting from an IRA to a Roth …

401(k), IRA, convert. The jargon is often at the guy’s fingertips, pattered off  with half the words and double the clarity.

Why do women, more than men, struggle with finance?

Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 9.04.55 AM

Ask five regular, non-financial career men and five non-finance women to define, say, Alternative Minimum Tax. The majority of the women, even if they know what it is, will use lots of ums. The men will pull something out of their a____s like: The AMT is designed to prevent the wealthy from avoiding taxes by reducing deductions. Individuals pay either their regular tax or a minimum, whichever is more.

Is it because men write finance rules for men?

‘‘(iii) PLAN LOAN OFFSET AMOUNT.— 2 For purposes of clause (ii), the term ‘plan 3 loan offset amount’ means the amount by 4 which the participant’s accrued benefit 5 under the plan is reduced in order to repay 6 a loan from the plan. 7 ‘‘(iv) LIMITATION.—This subparagraph 8 shall not apply to any plan loan offset 9 amount unless such plan loan offset amount 10 relates to a loan to which section 72(p)(1) 11 does not apply by reason of section 12 72(p)(2). 13 ‘‘(v) QUALIFIED EMPLOYER PLAN.— 14 For purposes of this subsection, the term 15 ‘qualified employer plan’ has the meaning 16 given such term by section 72(p)(4).’’

—Excerpt from tax bill passed by Senate

What woman would invent such gibberish?

My husband assures me it is just language, like French, and not that hard. You have to practice. Men are more fluent because they think about it more.

But why do men think about it more?

Do you know your way around carried interest, compound interest, retirement plans, annuities, debt, excise taxes, Roths, 401(k)s, advised funds, hedge funds, MOB spread, adjustable rate mortgage debt, credit default swaps, Treasury notes-bonds-securities and collateralized debt obligations? If so, wow. How did you get there?

If you don’t understand a lot of this — what holds you back?

Resources:

“Women, Especially, Are Failing at Financial Literacy”
“Women and Money: Even College Grads Flunk Personal Finance”
“Abysmal Financial Literacy Rates For Women Are Hurting Their Retirement Security”

Featured Photo credit: Alfy

17 comments

  • My gut feeling is that men care more about money because money is how we keep score in America. It is all Darwinian. The more money you have, or claim you have, the bigger the man you are. And the more pussy you can grab (see Donald Trump) High paying job + fancy car + big house = trophy wives (see Steve Mnuchin)
    Ad nauseam.

    Of course this is all based on gross generalizations. Not all women are financial featherweight, and not all men envy Scrooge McDuck. I personally prefer living in a van over a penthouse on Park Avenue.

    Come to think of it, did Scrooge McDuck have a trophy hen? There is blog topic for you to explore, Julie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kind of like the “gurls keep out clubhouse.” You, my friend are the glorious exception to the rule. I bet you still know what the alternative minimum tax is. Will look into McDuck’s squeeze.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Nor are all men good with tech. I hit “submit comment ” before proofreading, and now can’t figure out how to edit my words. I meant to write the plural, featherwieghts, and I do not want imply that I would like to park our van on top of a penthouse. I meant that I like the van better than a penthouse.

    It is so embarrassing to have sullied your always well written blog. We deplorable trolls from Idaho gives ourselfs away online as we has troubles’s knowin grammer and spellin.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Economics has always been a foreign language to me, but that’s mostly because I don’t study it. If I hunkered down and read books on it, much as my husband has done over the years and like my college son is now doing, I’d be able to spew the vocabulary much better. On the other hand, I can spew medical and public health vocabulary, so I figure that exempts me somewhat. (Exempt–see? Isn’t that an economic term?…)

    Liked by 2 people

  • I think I’m going to have to go in look of some chocolate…. that’s what tax law always does to me. Packs on the pounds. I’d say my husband and I are about equal in our understanding.

    Liked by 2 people

  • I’m afraid my answer plays into social stereotypes, or as Larry calls them, ‘gross generalizations’. Men, having traditionally been the more consistent household wage-earners, are more attuned to what’s actually involved in taking home $10 in a pay packet; they can readily equate that with spending 15 minutes fixing a car, or whatever; whereas for the woman, the $10 is more abstract. I think this applies almost as much today as it did 40 years ago, and you only have to watch shoppers in a supermarket — the men will (tend to) analyse the weight-to-price ratio, the women simply put what they need in their basket. Lots of Larry’s GGs here!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hard to avoid gross generalization when the question asked invites it.

      You’d think with half the work force female, this should be getting better. Maybe it is. Larry also has another good generalization: knowing the language of money is modern weaponry. Locked and loaded sir?

      Will have to do a weight-to-price ratio study at the local grocery.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Different stats here in the U.K., with almost twice as many men as women in full-time employment. [Three times as many women as men work part-time, though.] As far as weight-to-price ratios go, then many manufacturers use that as a marketing con, of course, altering their pack sizes downwards whilst the prices remain the same, or pricing some things in milligrams and some in milliliters (regardless of their liquidity) so as to confuse savvy shoppers.

        Like

  • I was a tax law librarian with staff who did research. In a global finance firm. Tax law is one of the most technical areas of law. Other types of lawyers hate tax law/find tax law mysterious. It helps to have accounting certification to get into that stuff.

    But in terms of financial literacy, I’m not sure but some of my friends are probably managing their money ok…because they are single. One MUST face the reality of managing one’s own finances properly, if any single person does.

    Still, I get pissed off using the tax filing software, occasionally I do it wrong. Only because of misinterpreting 1 bloody line.

    However there have been indications that once a woman becomes financially literary, she can become an even better investor than some men in her life.

    Liked by 1 person

  • You would be a good person to know, with a tax law librarian background! I worked for tax lawyers as a paralegal, and took tax law many years ago. Doesn’t count. You have to keep it up for life! And yes, many (most?) women who are on their own generally manage just fine. There has to be some kind of dynamic between some men and women which encourages women to defer, and men to press ahead in the money business. More women investors! Yes!

    Liked by 1 person

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