A while back, my wife was leafing through a copy of David Bach’s Smart Women Finish Rich when she asked a very astute question: is it really necessary for men and women to receive different personal finance advice?
I’ve puzzled over how to answer this for months, knowing what I want to say but realizing that this issue is bound to get me in some hot water from some segment of my readership. However, it’s a really worthwhile issue to discuss, so here goes.
It’s not necessary, but it is useful for men and women to receive different personal finance advice. Why? Men and women simply think differently, and a big portion of personal finance success is psychology. Even if there is a clearly optimal way to manage your finances, it still takes psychological effort to achieve it, and if men and women think differently, the advice that will help them achieve it will be different.
So let’s look at this a bit more closely. From that article:
Men tend to do better with tasks requiring more localized processing, such as mathematics.
For example, John Doe would likely be better at tasks such as number-crunching a budget and developing an investment plan.
women are better at integrating and assimilating information from distributed gray-matter regions of the brain, which aids language skills.
Jane Doe would likely be better at making good shopping choice (evaluating a lot of disparate types of data) and keeping the family in line with the family budget (communication and language skills).
Is this an absolute? Of course not. Many women are good at investing and many men are good at shopping and managing a budget. However, the default cognitive bias points the genders in specific directions.
The truth is that there is no “perfect” personal finance advice for everyone. Each person will find advice that works for them. It’s much like dieting. Better yet, it’s like playing The Sims – I play it much differently than my sister-in-law does, but my wife tends to play more like me than her sister. We’re all unique, though, and we all respond to different situations and events differently.
So if everyone has different personal finance needs, how can one possibly find something that will help them? Just keep looking until you find a voice or a set of answers that makes sense to you. It might be a book (like Your Money or Your Life), it might be a blog, it might even be someone on television or radio. Also, you don’t have to blindly follow everything someone says – just use the pieces that fit with you and make an effort to try to understand as much as you can.