THE GOLD-DIGGER SYNDROME: BUSTING MYTHS ON WOMEN & MONEY

"I haven't reported my missing credit card to the police because whoever stole it, is spending less than my wife": Quote by former world's No. 1 professional tennis player.

It is one of the most clichéd beliefs of our time. Women are spendthrifts, men lose their bank balance when they start to court women and women cannot handle money matters. Innumerable songs are written dedicated to ‘gold diggers' – women who marry men simply because of the size of the man's bank account. Sure enough, we have literally seen this stereotype growing up – it is always the father that looks after monetary affairs, and not the mother.

Do the above clichés serve as nothing but sexist beliefs? Is there an ounce of truth in them?

Jaago Re features Rishabh Parakh, a renowned money consultant and financial writer to demystify myths surrounding women and money.

Let's take a closer look at the circumstances where women actually make better financial decisions than men.

Instances where women have outperformed in the market

According to this international survey, an instance of hedge funding was tracked in 2007, where funds managed by women outperformed the market. Women also tend to work hard to become financially independent, thereby reducing their chances of going into debt.

Seeking guidance

According to a report by Fidelity, women are more likely to seek information and advice from professional financial advisers (53% women as against 44% men sought advice on financial matters). This trait often helps as women seek advice, listen and focus on taking corrective measures the moment they start following their financial plan.

Risk Averse

Women are more averse to taking risks. Many women also manage their household expenses so they have to align their day to day expenses carefully.

Monitoring

While men focus more on ROI (rate of returns) and market fluctuation, women keep monitoring performances to check whether they are meeting their targets.

Spending

It's very interesting to see how women and men spend; when a woman takes control of finances, her focus tends to shift more towards spending for domestic expenses and her children's needs.

Planning

Men tend to be more confident in their planning. Women on the other hand, plan for uncertainty in advance.

Life Stages

Generally men's financial ability to manage finance differ as per their different stages in life. It is mostly at peak during their middle years and declines in the later part of their lives. Women seem to get more proficient in managing money as the years pass by.

Handling Failure

Women do get distressed if their planned targets are not met, yet their approach to handle failure is different from their male counterparts. If a man suffers a loss in the share market, he may get aggressive, and even go all out to correct it by buying more shares to average out. Women on the other hand, may step back, think, plan and cut down on the risk, which might help in realigning their plans to meet their defined targets and investments.

Why do we harbor sexist and harmful prejudices when it comes to women and money?

Patriarchy can manifest itself in different forms. This is another example. First, it is the father that controls monetary affairs, and after marriage, it's the husband who takes over. Women are financially handicapped from early on, and often end up depending on others even for a personal sense of financial security.
Right from an early age, women need financial education and empowerment. Only then can they learn how to handle money and improve not only their personal lives, but also the lives of their family, their parents and their children.
When will we start letting go of regressive, offensive and deeply chauvinistic attitudes about women and money? Are all women "spendthrifts/ gold-diggers"? Are men really better at handling men than women are? The answer will only come once we are gender sensitised to a point where we objectively analyse how we will deal with rising expenses, inflation and work towards financial security. Financial planning in a family is only possible when we look at both genders without bias. That's when we can work together towards achieving financial independence for our loved ones.

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More about the author:

Rishabh Parakh is a Chartered Accountant and Founder Director and Chief Gardener of Money Plant Consulting, a tax and investment service provider. He has also written on finance for many leading publications.

Disclaimer:

Views expressed here are of the author alone and do not necessarily represent that of the brand.

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