Money "Rules" Men Follow that You Should Too

Photo: ThinkstockBy Valerie Ross

"Rule" #1: Men More Often Avoid Costly Credit-Card Mistakes

Men are five percentage points less likely than women to carry a balance at all, a study last year by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation concluded. The study, which surveyed 28,000 people across the country, found that women are more likely to pay only the minimum amount required and incur fees for paying after the deadline or exceeding their credit limit than men.

"Rule" #2: Men Don't Forget One Small Raise Builds Over Time

When considering what benefits they want from their employer, women place a higher premium on work-life balance, while men are somewhat more concerned with the size of their paycheck, a 2010 study by WorldatWork found. Flexible work schedules and other benefits, like more paid time off, can be extremely valuable. "With women shouldering more care-taking duties than men, there's clear value in negotiating for non-salary benefits," says Selena Rezvani, a women's leadership consultant and author of Pushback: How Smart Women Ask--and Stand Up--for What They Want. "But while these benefits improve our lives right now, asking for them in place of a raise hurts our earning potential." Raises based on a percentage of your salary compound year after year; your flexible work schedule and good vacation package don't get a 10 percent bump every year, and they don't increase your 401k contributions.

"Rule" #3: Men Use More Products

Women tend to use fewer financial products--credit cards, life insurance, mortgages, investment funds--than men, finds an analysis released last month by Deutsche Bank Research of nearly 27,000 Europeans. Of the men surveyed, 14 percent said they owned stocks or bonds and 9 percent said they owned investment funds, compared to 9 percent and 5 percent of women, respectively. It's true that men are employed longer than women and more often work full-time, meaning they simply have more to invest, but a recent study by Prudential found nearly half of the women admitted they're not very (or not at all) knowledgeable, compared to less than a third of men.

"Rule" #4: Men Find an Extra 10 percent

Study upon study upon study has shown that women are less comfortable taking risks with their money than men are. One research paper estimated that 10 percent of the difference between men's and women's individual retirement account balances was due to the differences in how the genders approach risk. Once women have educated themselves and feel more confident, they do make more money from their stock investments. And a 2011 study by Barclays Capital and Ledbury Research found that women investors tended to out-earn their male counterparts in the market, largely because they took fewer big risks after investing.

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