“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”

We all know and recognise that there are key differences in the ways that both men and women approach different topics. The same is certainly true for the world of personal finance and here at Ally, we believe that there are key ideas that each gender can learn from the other.

In recognition of International Women’s Day this week, we wanted to put a financial spin on the topic and explore the question – “are men or women better at dealing with money” and just how does each gender approach the topic of personal finance.

In this week’s article, we’ll explore some of the key areas of personal finance, and explore how both men and women approach the subject.

Retirement Savings

A previous survey that was conducted by the team at Vanguard found that women in the United States were more likely to be enrolled in tax-efficient retirement savings programs than their male counterparts. Of those with an annual salary of between US$50,000 and US$75,000, over 81% of women were participating, which compared to just 62% of men in the same income bracket. Of those earning $75,000 to $100,000, 86% of women were saving for their retirement, compared to just 70% of men.

Many studies over time reveal that women have a much longer-term focus when it comes to personal finance than men, and this is particularly reflected in the way that they plan and think about retirement, and also in being more likely to hold investments for the long-term. We would have to say that women certainly put their male counterparts to shame when it comes to planning for their retirement and focusing on the longer-term financial goals and strategies.

Personal Spending

The majority of surveys that are carried out globally continue to reveal that women tend to spend more on personal items than men, and on a regular basis. A previous Journal of Financial Planning report revealed that approximately 24% of women are unable to resist a sale, while only 4.5% of men admitted to the same ‘urge to splurge’. Women also outnumbered the men in the survey by 2 to 1 when it comes to impulse buying.

The overall finding when it comes to personal spending is that men tend to be much more pragmatic and practical, weighing up the pros and cons of most personal expenses.  This may not come as too much of a surprise, but we have to give it to the men this time when it comes to controlling their personal spending.

Bad Debts

A previous survey that was carried out of 5,000 people revealed that while women were likely to have a credit card and use it on a regular basis, far fewer women than men would have more than one. Over two-thirds of the women that participated in the study admitted that they felt that if they had more than one credit card, that this could lead to financial difficulties later on.

Women have clearly taken first place when it comes to managing credit card risk and avoiding potential problems of racking up too much debt. We continue to see far too many men failing to manage their credit card debts and repayments well, so there is a lot to be learned here.

Investment Risk

Women are found to be typically far more risk-averse when it comes to investing their money than men. This can be a particularly important obstacle to overcome especially for younger women, who may not be taking on enough investment risk to reach their long-term financial goals. Typically, a young 20-something will have far more time for their investment horizon and can take on more risk given that they have more time to ride out the volatility. Studies reveal that women tend to hold a greater allocation of defensive assets, such as fixed income and cash than men.

Given that women do tend to outlive men, on average, it’s important that your retirement nest egg is ‘built to last’ and this means making calculated investment decisions and ensuring your investment risk is aligned with your financial goals. We have to award the men first place when it comes to investment risk, as they’re far more likely to achieve their financial goals by taking on an appropriate, calculated level of risk when it comes to their investment portfolios.

Perception of Debt

Good debt can be an excellent tool, used with the right asset classes, with a clearly mapped out strategy, to build your wealth and achieve your long-term financial goals. Whether it be taking out a loan to buy an investment property or otherwise, a well-thought-out debt strategy can be helpful when used appropriately. Bad debt, however, can lead to problems and financial turmoil over time if it’s not dealt with, which we continue to see time and time again.

A Men’s Health survey that was completed previously revealed that women are more likely to be upset about gaining weight (30%) than accumulating debt (27%), while men are likely to be more upset about accumulating debt (34%) than gaining weight (24%). It’s also important to recognise that women are far more likely to seek out professional help and advice if they feel that they’ve gotten themselves into financial trouble. This is significantly higher than their male counterparts.

It’s clear to see that there is a great deal we can be learning from each other when it comes to our personal finances, and also vital to recognise that managing our money is a team effort. Be sure to keep the conversation about money alive in your household, and seek out the advice of a trusted professional when needed.


Ally Wealth Management is the trusted ally in finance for Australians at home and across the globe. As both Australian expats and residents, the founders of Ally have a unique understanding of the common personal financial challenges faced.

Book your complimentary appointment with our team at Ally Wealth Management to discuss how we can help you to achieve your financial goals.

Ally Wealth Management Pty Ltd is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Sentry Advice Pty Ltd ABN 77 103 642 888. Sentry Advice holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) No. 227 748.

General Advice Warning: The information contained herein is of a general nature only and does not constitute personal advice. You should not act on any recommendation without considering your personal needs, circumstances, and objectives. We recommend you obtain professional financial advice specific to your circumstances.