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Betty-Ann's Both Sides Blog

December 4, 2012

Men and Women See Money Differently

  1. Gender Physics
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“The King was in his counting house, counting out the money.  The Queen was in the parlour, eating bread and honey.”  So goes the old Sing a Song of Sixpence nursery rhyme.

For men, money is power.  It is absolute and real and large quantities of it provide influence over others.  For women, money has little meaning in and of itself.  It is relative to other concerns and is primarily symbolic of what it can do.

Maybe that’s why 61 percent of full-time Realtors are women and they also number male counterparts in terms of career longevity, according to the National Association of Realtors in the US.  Women know a home has to “feel right,” whereas men traditionally look at a property and analyze its future value.

Men and women see money differently and the ‘penny dropped’ for me when I was working in corporate.  I walked into the boardroom before a meeting one day and overheard a male colleague say to another, “Those Norwegians don’t know how to make money.  The country is run by a bunch of women.  All they ever want to do is take care of everyone.”  I thought, “What is wrong with wanting to take care of people?  Isn’t that the way we work to make money?”

I think this is why men often say women have no “money sense”.  You are definitely not going to find us in the ‘counting house’ swooning over piles of coins.  We’re not interested in keeping score.  Rather, we’re interested in money as an internal consideration.  We want money to reinforce our values.

Women are relationship oriented.  We want relevance in our work and relevance in the things we buy.  For us, it’s all about contributions.  It’s not about power and profit, it’s about creativity, service and bonding.

Different, But Not Better

There is nothing wrong with making a profit.  That is what businesses do and if they don’t make money, there’s no money for anyone – period.  The point is men and women make their money decisions for different reasons.  My old male colleagues in corporate may have preferred to see Norway build cash rather than “waste it” on a daycare centre.

And realize too that money isn’t the only currency we handle in our lives.  Time and energy can also be exchanged for what we value.  Investing in the mentorship, guidance and support of others can also be very rewarding.

And of course, all good men (like all good women) find ways to give back.  They may, however, choose different ways to do that.  Whether you are a man or a woman, time, energy and money are interrelated.  They are all good investment vehicles and if these currencies are balanced, they will have the greatest purchasing power and you’ll feel greater personal abundance.

For Me

I received a request recently to be involved in a very worthy organization.  I realized that while it was a wonderful cause, my passion and energy is aligned with women’s issues and that’s where I want to invest.  Pouring my currency into a single cause will produce a sum greater than its parts.  If I want to generate the highest return I can’t dilute my efforts.  After all, I am the one forever urging balance in our lives!

Consider this, who wants a higher-wage job that comes with a loss of time through a long commute?  When I was an executive making a lot of money, I often felt shortchanged because I had no time or energy to enjoy the relationships I so value.  Likewise, an individual with lots of time but no energy is pretty unproductive and probably broke!  A big house on the hill (complete with a Counting House) may be valuable, but maintaining it can drain you.  If it’s empty, it will have no energy.

All of us, be we Kings or Queens, need to trade our real and our emotional currency for things that really matter.  And we need to remember that what matters to each of us is different.