“Personal Finance Blogs and the Battle of the Sexes” is a post by freelance writer and TimelessFinance contributor Adina J.
Of the handful of personal finance blogs that I follow daily, a few are written by men – this one included. They are well-written, insightful and generally thought-provoking, which is why I keep reading them. There is just one problem in our virtual relationship: I am a woman (like the majority of personal finance blogs’ readers). If one were to take seriously the comments of bloggers and male visitors alike on some of these sites – this one excluded – womanhood is a mode of existence irreconcilable with good money management skills. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve read a comment about the terrible financial choices made by a man at the instigation of his partner … I would be at least a few hundred dollars closer to retirement.
And my only response to all those laments of financial woe is, simply put: Shut it!
Financially responsible, high net worth women exist. They are not a figment of feminist propaganda or neutered personal finance blogs. They walk the earth among you. If you, as a financially responsible guy, end up marrying, shacking up, or making babies with anyone who does not fit that description – and wish you had – you have no one to blame but yourself. If you then let that person influence your financial decisions, or worse yet, abdicate your personal responsibility and place the decisions entirely in her hands, you have no one to blame for the result but yourself. Sounds harsh? Let’s explore.
First, I don’t know of any studies that have ever conclusively proven that women, as a group and solely on the basis of gender, are more financially irresponsible than men. If such a study exists, I hope that Joe will bring it to my attention. Absent proof of this beyond the purely anecdotal, I will wager that, generally speaking, men are not facing insurmountable statistical odds in the quest for a financially responsible partner. The question is: what premium do men put on a woman’s fiscal responsibility? Where, on the list of necessary attributes in a life partner and/or co-parent, do money management skills land? Near the top? Near the bottom? Nowhere? What other desired attributes are they willing to forgo in the interests of securing their prospective families’ financial security? Is it more important that your girlfriend or wife look like Kate Upton, or that she can balance a budget? Is it more important that she allows you to feel like a swell guy, or that she can bring in a great pay-cheque (bigger, perhaps, than yours)? These are not either/or questions necessarily; plenty of women with enviable assets (financial and physical) look – if I may be prurient for a moment – great in a bikini, and they are not all harpies intent on emasculating their partners. But if in love, as in life, there have to be compromises. Every man must make his choice – and live with it … or her, in this case. And then man up, and not go whining about it later in the comment sections of various sympathetic personal finance blogs.
Second, apart from those who might legitimately deserve the label of “sociopath”, most people do not and cannot disguise their real selves for long. You might not be able to tell immediately whether the wonderful girl you just started dating has a ton of disposable income, or 5-figure credit card debt instead; after all, it’s not something generally disclosed in the preliminary movements of the dating game. But, barring whirlwind romances or arranged marriages, by the time the game has progressed far enough to require a decision as to your joint long-term future, you should have a pretty good idea about not only the contents of her bank accounts, but also her entire fiscal philosophy – and if either or both of those pieces of information make you feel queasy, then run for the hills … or not. And if you don’t, then man up and don’t whine about it later on the personal finance blogs of yours and others. Wait, did I already say that?
If, against all better judgment, you married or otherwise yoked yourself to a woman you know to be incapable of living within her means or completely divorced from the reality of a hard-earned dollar, prepare yourself. Be ready to spend the rest of your life standing your ground on decisions that are likely to be very unpopular with your partner. Hey, she must have qualities that make up for that inconvenience, or else you wouldn’t have married her, right? But if it happens that, for any reason – be it exhaustion or apathy – you acquiesce in the choices she makes, or leave the whole decision-making process in her hands, accept that it is as much your responsibility as if you had made that decision alone. Short of actual coercion, no person can force another into a bad decision – be it an unwise purchase, an adulterous liaison, or a bank robbery. Anyone who tells you otherwise is evidently unfamiliar with the concept of personal responsibility. A moribund idea in our society for sure, but one we should not be so ready to pull off life support just yet.
In summary, dear male blog writers and their fanboys: please don’t assume that, my bikini-worthiness notwithstanding, my gender dooms me to a life spent enriching the pockets of my credit card provider. In return, I promise not to make assumptions about your love life, or the acute bitterness engendered by the lack thereof. Let each of us continue to enjoy what the other has to offer – me, your witty insights on financial topics; you, my devoted page views – without unnecessary feelings of shame – on my part, for acquiescing in misogyny; on yours, for the fact that, like the majority of your readers, I am a woman. There are more important things in life … like index funds.