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Comments of the week, women and finance edition

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Must-knows about money for womenThis week Miranda had a great story on the harm that can come to women who delegate all their money management to their partners, and a baseline of what they need to know about their finances to protect themselves.

It elicited some strong reactions. Here’s one from reader Michael who felt the story’s angle was sexist:

Now that Jim’s not running this site anymore, sexist stuff like this creeps in. Watch out if your man handles your finances? What about marriages where only the woman does such? Not worth watching out?

It’s so common for man-bashing to be acceptable, but if there is any criticism on women’s performance on finances, the century of the comment comes into question.

FYI, personally I think both parties need to be involved, I actually agree with the article. I just didn’t like the headline and main premise.

As the man who assigned the story, it was a little funny being called out for misandry. That being said, the reason the story focused on women and finance is that such a large proportion of them defer completely to their partners on money management, and that can often leave them vulnerable in cases where their partners are mismanaging or misappropriating the couples’ funds.

Historically, women have often been relegated to the position of bystander when it comes to their finances; in fact, as recently as 1988, many states had laws on the books requiring women to get a male cosigner in order to borrow money for a small business. That legacy is brought out in a comment by another reader and blogger J.:

Funny you mention this. I’m writing a blog right now about our attempts to get out of debt, and one of the major topics I’ve covered is the way that my family and my wife’s family handled money when we were kids. In other words, what lessons did we learn from our parents? In my wife’s house, the women were discouraged from talking about or asking about money. Father was the breadwinner, and mom and daughter didn’t dare ask about the subject. Needless to say, it’s been quite an effort to get my wife to feel comfortable discussing money, much less talking about how to get more of it.

The blog on TLC’s horrible eyesore of a reality show “Extreme Cheapskates” also got some interesting reactions from readers. Most agreed with me that the show is bad TV and bad PR for frugality in general. Here’s one from reader Dauphine that sums it up well:

Psychopathy as demonstrated on TLCs “Extreme Cheapskate” left me gobsmacked. Blithely feeding cat food to one’s guests was beyond the pale. TLC should consider replacing the “L” from learning to “let down.”

Reader also Rick shakes his head in disbelief as well:

I saw a few episodes hoping to glean some good methods, but was put off as well. Especially ridiculous and loathsome was the guy who picked up rice kernels after weddings, served his wife dumpster roses on their anniversary and didn’t even bother to peel off the ugly petals and went around taking people’s leftovers. Also didn’t like the lady using towels as toilet paper, then washing and re-using them. You could still see the brown stains!

Meanwhile, reader Krystal grabs the popcorn:

I did laugh at the cat food though. I thought I was crazy but these people on this show have me beat!

Readers also had a lot to say on the Ally survey that found a strong link between savings and happiness. Reader Shirley nods:

We started saving a bit here and there wherever we could as soon as we could. Having been raised quite frugally, it was almost a matter of habit. We lived simply, both worked mid-paying jobs that we enjoyed, raised five children who never went without anything they needed (wanted was sometimes a different story), kept the bills manageable, and had everything paid in full before we retired at 65.

We still save and, yes, saving makes us happy. Just knowing that if something unexpected happens we can handle it gives us peace of mind. To us that is probably the most important aspect.

Finally, we got some outstanding comments on our post on Thanksgiving, with some very good tricks to get more dinner for your dollar. Carolyn suggests a pot luck to control costs:

We have a lot of people for Thanksgiving. So the foods are potluck. Each family according to size brings 1 or 2 dishes, therefore each one saving a good deal of money. And there’s always leftovers. And each year is a variety of tastes and flavors.

Joan shares a memory of her mother:

My mother, very frugal depression-era girl, saved the bread ends for a few weeks, added celery and spices, and voila! Great stuffing. The extra celery was the appetizer. She always splurged on olives to go with the celery. And a bag of shell-on nuts and grapes. Otherwise everything except the canned cranberry sauce and peas and margarine was home-made — pumpkin and apple pie, cranberry bread, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, creamed onions, and salad. I learned how to be really frugal from my mother — there were 6 kids. I still save bread ends to make bread crumbs. Note: nowadays she enjoys our much more extravagant meals at our homes.

Also, reader Bryan cautions me to be careful if I decide to shoot my own turkey to cut costs:

That depends on how good of a shot you are. With the current cost of ammo, you might come out ahead buying a turkey.

As always, one of the best rewards of writing is hearing from readers. Keep the comments coming!

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2 Responses to “Comments of the week, women and finance edition”

  1. Stephanie says:

    I really thought all the posts this week were on target. I didn’t even get the idea there was any “man bashing” going on however, guess it didn’t occur to me. I worry about my husband & the finances because he never takes care of the bills but if he causes one he always says something & has a way to take care of it. I think his MS & 3 strokes have changed things a lot over the years.I guess my point is there are always different circumstances. I discuss finance, what’s due & when with him all the time so he keeps his mind focused & never leave him in the dark. I do worry though because I care & don’t want him on overwhelm should something happen to me. I’m trying to leave detailed notes on what to do & when for him to follow. I am in my late 60′s now & grew up with a father that shared financial info with my mother who always worked, then married another after her death who never looked at finances ever. Well let me tell you after my father’s death, she wound up getting screwed by her son & so did the rest of us after all Dad’s planning because she signed everything over to him so she didn’t have to deal with it. Lesson learned.

  2. Claes Bell says:

    Hey Stephanie, thanks for the kind words, and for sharing your story. I’ve seen similar things happen to people I’ve known, which is why I think it’s so important for people to have a handle on what’s really going on with their finances. You just never know what life’s going to throw at you, and having to deal with a major financial crisis on top of the grief of the death of a loved one or some other personal trauma is truly terrible.


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