How Men and Women Manage Money Differently

Over the last century, society has made strides toward gender equality on every level, including basic money management. Still, significant differences exist in the way men and women relate to money. Being aware of these differences can help us better build our innate financial strengths.

Attitudes toward shopping

A study by the Wharton School of Business found that women are more likely to view shopping as a recreational activity, while most men just want to leave the store with their purchase as quickly as possible.

Spending habits

A Consumer Expenditure Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics studied the spending choices of single women and single men. Here’s what they found:

  • Overall spending: Men spent an average of $35,018 a year as opposed to $33,786 by women.
  • Food: The average man’s annual food bill was $4,173, as opposed to $3,680 for the ladies. Men also spent $537 a year on alcoholic beverages compared to the women’s $234.
  • Clothing: Women spent an average of $1,140 on clothing while men spent $813.
  • Cars: Men spent a total of $5,507 a year on personal transportation costs, compared to women at $4,273.

There are also multiple studies proving that women are more price-conscious than men. According to PaymentSense, 71% of women say the last item they bought online was on sale, compared to 57% of men.

Financial goals

A recent survey by The Motley Fool found that men were most likely to name saving for a vacation as their top financial goal, followed by paying off credit card debt. Women had identical goals, but they put credit card debt ahead of their vacation.


A report by Mylo Financial Technologies found that men had set aside nearly twice as much money for their long-term goals as women. A BlackRock survey found that women nearing retirement age had an average of $81,300 in retirement funds, while men had $118,400.

However, taking the percentages that each save from their paychecks, women outdo men. A recent Vanguard study found that women are more likely to participate in workplace retirement plans, and that they put up to 8 percent more of their income into these plans than men. Since the average woman earns less than the average man, the men still walk away with more in accumulated savings.


Most studies performed on the differing investment habits of men and women find that men tend to be more open to risk, while women are more cautious investors. Studies have found that the average woman’s investment strategy and performance tend to be more stable than the average man’s.

With an open mind and the willingness to learn about our natural strengths and weaknesses, we can improve our money management skills to build a life of financial success.

Your Turn: Do the money habits of most of the men and women you know match up with the findings of these studies? Tell us about it in the comments.