smart spending

Gender spender: Sex sets your money DNA

The bigger the boy ...
The male money blind spot is a little less obvious.

"The biggest risk for men, and it's kind of a new risk, is men's egos, men keeping up with men and bragging about how much they've earned in the market," Hayden says.

"People don't talk about these things. Everyone brings his or her own money behavior from home and we think that is the way to do it."

Guys also tend toward a curious quirk when making buying decisions.

"Men will say, 'I need a new computer.' No, you want a new computer because it's faster, it has more bells and whistles," says Hayden. "Men move those things they want into an investment category, 'This is a good investment.' And then they can't even enjoy it, they can't go, 'Oh, this is so much fun!' Everything is a serious need and everything is an investment. What men need to do is kind of ease up a little bit and enjoy what they're actually able to provide for themselves."

When it comes to spending, Hayden says it's about a draw. Women spend their money gradually over time, and men spend it on a number of big things. "They spend really big to show off because there's a lot of ego risk on men today to do better than the next guy," she says.

New money role models
If any of this even remotely fits you or your significant other, join the club. Hira says 46 percent of male respondents said money worries interfere with their relationships and 55 percent of the women said managing money troubles interferes with their lives at work.

Our biggest collective money blind spot may be our unwillingness to talk openly about it.

"People don't talk about these things. Everyone brings his or her own money behavior from home and we think that is the way to do it. Then we struggle in our relationship until we settle on something that neither one of us is really happy with, instead of sitting down and deciding how it will be done in our house."

Hayden agrees.

"Where people are struggling is they still have the old socialization, but they're living their lives differently. We have two people putting in eight- and 10-hour days, we have much higher standards for partnership and intimacy than our parents did, we have much higher standards for child raising, for ourselves and our homes. Our standards have changed entirely, our roles have changed, and yet we still have this socialization model that is archaic. What couples are trying to do is to figure out new models. It's wonderful, but it's very hard."

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-- Updated: Jan. 30, 2007

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