Men, Women, and Money

Updated insider information by Chellie Campbell, author of “The Wealthy Spirit: Daily Affirmations for Financial Stress Reduction”

110-April 20

“I’ve figured out why first dates don’t work any better than they do. It’s because they often take place in restaurants. Women are weird and confused and unhappy about food, and men are weird and confused and unhappy about money. Yet off they go, the minute they meet, to where you use money to buy food.”—Adair Lara

The subject of money gets very sticky when it intrudes into relationships. Consumer Credit Counselors has stated that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce and in 80 percent of the divorces, finances are a significant issue. In other days in other cultures, women did not own property, they were property. Nowadays, women are often a major contributor to the family income stream.

John Gray, in an article published in Currency entitled Mars and Venus on a Budget wrote, “Shifting financial realities have had a huge and positive impact on how men and women are loving each other. I believe that the more involved a woman is with money, the more fully she participates in the relationship.” In my opinion, the biggest problem is that everybody’s talking about money in general, but nobody’s talking about “my money” and “your money” specifically.

I regularly talk with couples who never had a discussion about finances before getting married. And since marriage, they haven’t sat down and made a list of financial goals, or decided which goals have priority. Sometimes, years later, they discover that the love of their life is $50,000 in credit card debt—which now affects their own credit and lifestyle. Arguments erupt over whether to buy new carpeting for the house or a ski trip for fun; invest in the stock market or put the cash in a money market account; make the car payment or the house payment. (A friend of mine once told me, “If it’s a choice between making the car payment or the house payment, make the car payment.” When I asked why, he said, “Because you can sleep in your car, but you can’t drive your house to work.”)

There need to be common financial goals in any relationship, business or personal, if you want the relationship to last. It requires honesty and openness about money in all areas: How it should be made, how it should be spent, and how it should be saved. Have this discussion with your significant other as soon as possible, make a written agreement and budget outlining your joint decisions, and have monthly updates to check the score.

Today’s Affirmation: “My significant other and I make beautiful music—and money—together!”

In the book, “Women Don’t Ask” by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, the authors outline some of the ways in which men still control the majority of the economic and political environments in which women live and work and the subtle and pervasive ways in which our culture continually reinforce these gender differences.

Author Linda Babcock told a story about how, even though she made more money than her husband, she let him handle the finances when they went out, pay for dinners, etc. One day, her 3-year-old daughter and she went to a drugstore, and her daughter saw a stuffed toy she wanted and asked, “Do you have enough money to buy that for me, Mommy? Do girls have money, or is it just boys that have money?” Linda of course was horrified. Their family habits had communicated to their daughter that men had money but women didn’t.

Women still wait for men to ask them to the dance, on a date, to get married. Although 76% of married women work outside the home, the child care and household duties still reside with them. Women are always telling me their husband “helps them” with the housework. But that still assumes housework is their job, which the men sometimes “help with”, doesn’t it? At the dinner table, men remain seated and women serve, men drive more than women, women take their husband’s name at marriage.

85% of divorced women receive no alimony, but homemaking is still the largest single occupation in the US. Accustomed to seeing most other women devote a huge proportion of their adult lives to unpaid work, women enter the traditional work force unaccustomed to evaluating their time and abilities in economic terms.

I recommend that men and women in relationships take these cultural factors into account when discussing their financial goals and desires. If the woman is employed or running a business, there should be equality in responsibility for household chores and an equal amount of time devoted to them. If the woman is not working outside the home, I recommend they agree on a dollar figure that all of the household tasks are worth, and treat her worth to the family accordingly.

But if one spouse is a business owner and the other spouse is an employee of a company, the business owner needs to know that the employee spouse is not going to be able to understand the risk-taking that is involved in making their business profitable, i.e., expenses for marketing, PR, sales training, coaching and consulting, attending conferences, virtual assistants, and social media among others. Don’t expect to run these expenses by your spouse on an individual basis. They will be more interested in saving the expense of these items and may not recognize that what looks like an expense today will look like a money-making investment when it pays off down the road. What your partner needs from you is a business plan that shows when you expect to be profitable and how much that profit will contribute to the bottom line of the family. Commit to that, and how you get there is your business.

“Spousal Support” is the title of one of the chapters in my new book “From Worry to Wealthy: A Woman’s Guide to Financial Success Without the Stress”. No, it’s not the kind of spousal support you get when you get divorced, but the kind that if you get it, you don’t get divorced! Buy it today on amazon