When it comes to budgeting, investing, and saving money, men can learn a few things from women
Men have money problems. In fact, there's proof: for the past six years, women-run hedge funds have outperformed funds managed by men, according to a report from the Rothstein-Kass Institute. “It’s a pretty prevalent belief that men are better than women when it comes to money,” says Meredith Jones, author of that Rothstein-Kass report and the forthcoming money management book Women of the Street. “But in many ways, the opposite is true."
Plenty of research backs her up. Women are more wary of risk and less likely than men to spend and invest impulsively, says Catherine Eckel, a Texas A&M economist who has studied how women differ from men when it comes to their financial decisions. Of course, individual women and men often buck the sex-specific traits that show up in big studies, Eckel says. But the “average” man could learn a few things from the “average” woman when it comes to making smart financial decisions, her research shows. (Check out 16 Money Rules Every Woman Should Know by Age 30.) For starters, your guy should follow your example when it comes to these five money lessons.
Testosterone drives men toward aggressive and risky behaviors, Jones says. That aggression may help him while negotiating a salary, but it hurts him when it comes to investing. How? “Men tend to bet big on riskier investments, hoping for a home run,” Jones explains. Women investors usually bet smaller and expect more modest returns—a tactic that works out better in the long run, she says. (By the way, these are The Best Fitness Stocks to Buy Now.)
Lesson learned: “Stop speculating and start actually investing,” advises LouAnn Lofton, author of Warren Buffet Invests Like A Girl. That means avoiding wild guesses that promise huge returns, Jones says. Strikeouts are a lot more common than home runs, she adds.
“In my data, women tend to be more future-oriented,” Eckel says. Put simply, women are more likely to save for tomorrow than spend today, while men are often the opposite about cash. This trait can help women build wealth and avoid financial calamities to which many men succumb.
Lesson learned: Think in terms of decades, not days or months, Lofton recommends. “Keep in mind the things you’re saving for, whether it’s your kids' college education or that little beach cottage in Tahiti for when you're 65,” she says. That will help you avoid spending now on things that don’t really matter. (See more Money-Saving Tips for Getting Fiscally Fit.)
Men are more likely to “churn” their portfolio when it comes to investing, Eckel says. That means they trade more than women, or move their money from one place to another chasing greater returns. Since you often pay a fee or penalty every time you move your money, lots of churn is self-defeating. “Men know ‘you can’t beat the market,'” Eckel says. “But they still believe, ‘I can.'”
Lesson learned: Don’t be restless, Eckel advises. Sitting tight and staying with an investment usually yields better returns. “The stocks men sell tend to do better than the ones they keep,” she adds. “You’re often better off doing nothing.”
By their competitive natures, men pick fights with one another, Jones says. If they win, they tend to go pick another fight and another until they lose. She calls this the “winner’s effect,” and says men act the same way when it comes to investing. If they enjoy a big return or hit a hot stock, they tend to keep investing until they land on a loser.
Lesson learned: Don’t let your past victories coax you toward foolhardy financial choices, Jones says. If you just got lucky with a long shot, chances are good your luck won’t hold out. “So don’t tempt fate,” she says. “Be conservative after a big win.”
Jones says men like to think of themselves as daring individualists, but they also invest in the trendiest stocks or investment vehicles. “Women look more off the beaten path,” Jones says. That’s good, because it insulates your money from volatility, she adds. “Lots of people jumping on a stock at once can drive its price up or down very quickly,” she explains. “That increases the risk.”
Lesson learned: Ignore the hot stock tip you read about online, Lofton says. “And don’t buy stock in something you don't understand,” she urges. You’re better off doing your own research, learning about the competitive advantages of your investment choices, and avoiding the herd, she says. (Ready for more money tips? Here are 4 Weird Things That Affect Your Salary.)