Who Does the Finances and Money Management in Your Household?

I do in my household. Doing the household finances is something I don’t mind, apart from seeing all the bills which means money going out the door. I also do the budgeting, taxes and investments. I have a natural affinity for all things finance, a reason I write this blog, and my wife thinks all this finance “stuff” is extremely boring. She has a good job, deals with numbers in her job, but when it comes to household finances, she is more than happy to leave it to me. I used to be fine with this, but once we had a child I started realizing that should something happen to me, she should be aware of our finances. Also, when it comes to investing and saving, two heads are always better than one.

The NY times recently had a piece on finances and women in which the line I liked best was ” THE No. 1 financial complaint I hear from women, delivered in tones that range from exhausted to ashamed to defiant, is this: “I hate dealing with money, so my __ (fill in the blank) takes care of everything”. That role is often filled by a spouse or partner, although fathers and accountants are also candidates when a woman hands over the reins to her money.

Many couples try to strike a balance when dividing household chores, financial and otherwise. But when women pass the buck, it leaves them far too vulnerable. While some research suggests a shift is occurring, and younger women are more inclined to control their own finances, the aversion of many women to money tasks is still surprisingly common — and so is the risk they assume, says Tahira K. Hira, professor of consumer economics at Iowa State University at Ames.

In a study, “Gender Differences in Investment Behavior,” Professor Hira and her co-author Cäzilia Loibl, assistant professor of consumer sciences at Ohio State University, studied more than 900 randomly selected households with incomes of $75,000 or higher. The authors found that while “men were more engaged in their personal finances, generally speaking, women tend to do more of the day-to-day tasks,” Professor Hira said. They tended to abdicate their financial roles when it came to planning for the future, saving and investing. “The majority of women found investing to be stressful, difficult and time-consuming,” she said.

PROFESSOR HIRA believes a lack of confidence causes some women not to take a more commanding role. Traditionally men are expected to be competent financially, whether it’s their bent or not. “For women,” she said, “the expectation is often that somebody wonderful will be there to do it.” She points to a Catch-22: Many women have low confidence because they haven’t done a lot of planning or investing. And because they find it difficult and stressful — or they aren’t expected to deal with it — they don’t get the experience that would boost their confidence.

A lot of good personal finance blogs I read are authored by women and so I definitely think the trend is changing. However, I am worried that if my wife starts doing the finances, she will expect me to take over other chores which she currently does (like household cooking, which I am terrible at), so for now the status-quo suits me. However, I am going to ensure she is informed, involved and aware of all the financial decisions we make going forward.

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