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Special section Love and money -- oil and water?

Men and women see the world differently; right down to how they save and spend money.

Gender spender: Sex sets your money DNA

Based on a study of 2,000 Iowans, of whom 529 responded, women were far more likely to buy something without needing it (36 percent vs. 18 percent), buy something because it's on sale (24 percent vs. 5 percent), shop impulsively (36 percent to 18 percent) and shop to celebrate (31 percent vs. 19 percent).

But when polled on their level of savings, just 49 percent of women said they were dissatisfied with their bank accounts, versus 60 percent of men.

"Money is an emotional-laden thing," says Hira. "We spend because others are doing it. Women may have more need to be accepted by others. Maybe they think that if they have the things that others have that they'll be better off, they'll be liked and accepted."

Hayden says the shop-till-you-drop syndrome is more than a harmless female pastime; it also deprives women of the opportunity to grow money through investing. In their 20s and 30s, when their male counterparts are buying homes and investing in mutual funds, many women are spending on clothes, cars and decorating the apartment.

"The biggest risk for women is they stall. It's a huge risk for women because time grows money," she says. "With our increasing longevity, it's becoming a critical issue."

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