How Women and Men Spend Their Money

Both men and women lie to their partners about their spending, but the money similarities between the genders seem to end there. Viviana A. Zelizer explores the differences in a Wall Street Journal article, writing that women in many different cultures are more likely than men to direct money toward their children’s well-being:?”Culture matters and so do social ties. Women are often held to higher standards of morality in spending. Despite jokes about women as spendthrifts, mothers (and grandmothers) are expected to consider their children’s needs as paramount. Selfless spending becomes a hallmark of moral virtue.” Policymakers have taken note of these tendencies, and many aid organizations now reward funds primarily to women. [%comments]


This surprises you? Go read the Motherlode blog and see how people consider the thought of a mom treating herself once in a while.


I'm sure this is right. I can't convince my wife to spend money on herself rather than our kids to alleviate my own guilt!

I suspect, though, she gets the same level of enjoyment spending on them that I get spending on myself. We are different animals in some ways.


The thing that bugs me about this article is that it doesn't say what men will spend the money on when they control it. All it says is when women have the control then purchases will be spread more equally.

The article gives the example of the following: And a study in the Philippines reported that when women have control over a couple's savings accounts, expenditures shift towards the purchase of family-targeted durable goods, such as washing machines or kitchen appliances.

My rebuttal to that is if the family currently has a working washing machine then maybe they don't need a new one.

I am not saying which gender is better off for the family controlling the finances. All I am saying is the article seems to leave something out.


I would agree with the findings here. Maybe the social stigma of women being careless shoppers developed from women buying more tangible things with their disposal income. Therefore, it's more of a reminder of what was spent. Where males tend to spend more of intangibles, such as sports, events, etc. Intangibles tend to become forgotten more easily.


There's an old story in my family about just such an instance....

My grandfather, a poor, east Tennessee sharecropper, had just a little money to spend. He intended to use it to outfit his mules.

My grandmother let him know that the kids needed that money for shoes. Well, let's just say that grandmother was not the "retiring" kind. Apparently there was a big fuss and grandpa finally threw the money on the table and stormed to the barn.

A while later, Grandma came out and, in a rare display of meekness, told him that if he felt that way, to please just keep the money. Of course, the kids got their shoes.

In another instance, I was told that Grandpa had the habit of always raising two hogs a year for slaughter. But as the family grew, instead of him raising more hogs, he was stuck on two a year, and had to be prompted by--you guessed it--my grandmother to expand his horizons.

While I KNOW, utterly and completely, that I love my child every bit as much as much wife loves him, I also know that she's the one who reminds me to give him a bath, make him brush his teeth, etc.

I would ask this, though: Could it be that men's nonchalance on such things is due to women having covered for us so many time--perhaps because they distrust us somewhat--that we just assume things will be taken care of, and so don't think about the others' needs as promptly as we should?

Yeah, that's it. That's the ticket.


Erin Kaplan

Studies also show that women are more responsive to economic incentives than men. Maybe women are just more fiscally responsible when it comes to managing a household - traditionally the woman's role. Evolutionary biology?

Eric M. Jones

Well, guys buy guns, fast cars and power tools. Women buy push-up bras, expensive lingerie, perfume and those stiletto heels.

Where's the problem?


This article could be titled better, as in "how [mothers] and [fathers] spend their money" as it doesn't appear to examine the difference between men and women who are not parents. Not all women are mothers.

Sharyn Jevon

My bet is that in the Phillipines you don't often buy a new washing machine to trade up based on LSM...being an African by birth, that's my gut feel.....

Does biology play a part......a woman is certain it is her child, whereas a man can never be sure.......nope, I don't think so!

I have seen many woman picking up children that aren't theirs and making sure they are fed and clothed as well as can be scraped together.

Equally to be fair....I have see any number of children abandoned by their mothers....but more fathers seem to walk away first...

Regrettably alcohol and illegal drugs play a massive part in this.... but generally woman try to do what is right by the kids more often, often going without themselves in poverty stricken circumstances.


"And a study in the Philippines reported that when women have control over a couple's savings accounts, expenditures shift towards the purchase of family-targeted durable goods, such as washing machines or kitchen appliances."

If the woman was the one doing the cooking and cleaning originally surely this is a purchase for herself as well? These aren't vital items, they are there to make life easier. All that has actually been bought is ways to make her household chores quicker and less hasslesome. That doesn't benefit the family as they still have clean clothes at the end of it.

Plus as Greg says, there is no mention if they are spending on upgrades to household items which weren't really needed. I already have a kettle, if I bought some fancy espresso machine with dozens of settings that is technically a kitchen durable item but the benefit to the family is probably less than the husband buying a smart new suit for work.


Yabin Li

pesonal taste & personal favoriate seems goes nowhere but tickler if the article hints every private expense should be subject to another person`s point of view.


I believe it is easy to figure why women who are moms spend less on themselves: it's a sacrifice first off to be a mom (lending one's body for 9-months, e.g.), then having that caring/selflessness shown in thinking of their children first.

As a female who doesn't have children myself (and I can't see myself as a mom), I spend money on myself a lot and think nothing of it. It's just my nature.


When I read the chapter about prostitution in Superfreakonomics, I wondered about the type of man who spends $500 per hour on a prostitute. How does he rationalize it? Who can afford it? Egad!


Women invest more in their kids because they know they are their genetic offspring. There is more uncertainty for men.

Dan Green

Women control the money, 90% of the time. Works like this. Some period in the month, there is a direct deposit. You get an allowance, and the rest goes to managing the household,. end of sentence. Car manufactures even understand women influence the purchase most of the time. Now when it comes to buying a home you may as well take a business trip.


Although women may be more altruistic in their purchases, men must be aware not to be too altruistic when spending money for the family.

Example: My wife told me that her father bought her mother a new vacuum cleaner and pots and pans as a Christmas present when she was a child. Her mother went ballistic!

Mr. Bad Example

I think there might be a difference between how women spend they earn and money that they don't earn.


A Bitter and Lonely Man


This doesn't surprise me. As different as we are from most animals, we still have animal cells. We still place all nursing and rearing in the hands of the mother. Of course, that is INSTINCT. We are, however, the only animals capable of combating instinct with REASONING so we should change this.

Check out Great money to be made in the stock world if you take some advice!


"Printapons" is a deal-of-the-day website that is localized if a certain number of people sign up for the offer, then the deal becomes available to all; if the predetermined minimum is not met, no one gets the deal that day.

VB in NV

I do remember from my casino dealing days, that men and women, for the most part, gamble differently. When asked. "How much do you want to win?" a woman once told me $247. When asked why, she said, "Because that's how much an outfit I saw today costs."

When a man was asked how much he wanted to win, he responded, "I want to own this whole casino!"

Guess who met the goal?