Are men and women really that different when it comes to their approach to frugality? It appears so, in certain areas. Take the thermostat for instance. Most men prefer to keep things cool in the summer, while women like a higher temperature setting. Me? I compromise for the sake of being frugal – if money was not a consideration I would prefer to see my breath when I walk in the door.
But preferred temperature settings could be blamed more on biology than bad frugal habits. A recent article, The Thermostat War, And 6 More Silly Compromises, quotes the Georgetown University Center for the Study of Sex Differences in Health, Aging and Disease as saying, “We have lots of data showing that women generally are far more sensitive to feelings of cold.” That’s certainly the case in the Frugal household.
What are the areas where men and women share differing ideas on frugality?
Clipping coupons. This one may be more a gender stereotype, but I used to get some strange looks when I pulled out the coupon binder at the checkout. Maybe because couponing has traditional been an activity headed up by the woman of the house, in the capacity of CFO of the household. These days, more men are sharing these duties and I say that’s a good thing.
Water usage. Water usage rolls several fringe frugal topics up into a potential marriage squabble. I know men who brag about 2-minute showers and their refusal to run the water while shaving or brushing their teeth to “conserve water.” The same men run their sprinklers twice a day for half an hour per zone because they want the greenest lawn on the block. Go figure.
Toilet paper. Entering dangerous territory here. Since the number of males and females are even in my house, I feel fairly confident making the statement women use more toilet paper than men. However, it is a battle that should simply be conceded by men. And whatever you do, never remind your significant other that Sheryl Crowe can get by with one square per “incident.” Trust me; it’s not pretty.
Shopping. I love my wife dearly, but we have agreed to disagree on shopping strategies. I’m more of a get in and get out kind of shopper. What can I say, I don’t like stores. I don’t like window shopping, “just browsing,” or any other unproductive forms of shopping. On 99% of my trips to a store I’m armed with a list (mental or otherwise) of the few things I need. My mission is to enter the store, roundup the few things I need, and exit as quickly as possible. I’ve made it sort of a game. My wife, on the other hand, snakes in and out of every single aisle in case she sees something she forgot to put on the list.
Money. Finally, something men and women can agree on. Then why so many money fights? The differences in men and women and their handling of money are well-documented, so I won’t rehash it all here. However, from the perspective of living frugal, I have to concede that most women are far better at living the frugal life than men. Sorry guys.
Women as generally less impulsive with major buying decisions (think appliances, not shoes and purses). Women prefer larger amounts of emergency savings, and less risky investments. Dave Ramsey often credits a “security gland,” only found in women, for this desire to minimize risk. Personal experience leads me to agree.
Just about every bone-headed move I’ve made with money followed a “I’m not sure that’s a good idea” statement from my wife. When I ignored her, I crashed and burned – from stock picks to business ideas to financing that Chevy Silverado.
You think I would have learned my lesson, but men are equipped with an equally strong, equally empowering “stubborn gland,” which causes us to ignore all reasonable objections, throw caution to the wind and “just go for it.” Sometimes it pays off, but most times it doesn’t.
My wife and I make a good team. I’ve encouraged her to take a few more risks, and she’s encouraged me to be more conservative. I don’t mention toilet paper, and she ignores the sprinklers. We both clip coupons, but we usually spend them in separate shopping trips.