By Ashley Ann Reich

Women’s History Month provides a unique platform to reflect on the progress that women have made historically. Women have come leaps and bounds from centuries ago in terms of freedoms and liberties, activities they can participate in, acceptance in the workplace, and becoming a trusted source related to money. Today, women are becoming more invested in their financial future by making investment decisions, creating a sensible budget for their situation, or setting up a strong legacy to leave behind.

I have had the privilege of consulting many men and women on financial literacy topics over the years. One of the main differences that I have found between men and women in how they view money and decisions around money. Men tend to be more methodical and calculated in their approach – much more like a business transaction. On the other hand, women consider decisions around money based on the feeling of security. When women are faced with a financial decision, they often do not make rash decisions. Still, rather they contemplate the emotion behind the decision, who is involved, and if this will create a better or worse situation for their family. Most women are perceived as the “spenders” in a relationship, but I have found, over time, that women tend to be more frugal in their approach to money decisions – or at least they take more into consideration when making the ultimate decision.

From a personal perspective, my husband and I were looking to purchase a home during the height of the pandemic and low-interest rates. When we found “the home,” it provided a swell of emotions for me as I considered the future that our family could have in this home and the people we could invite in to serve in the form of hospitality. My emotions ranged from joy to anxiety as this was a big decision for our family. On the other hand, my husband saw a great opportunity to capitalize on the sale of our other home and partake in historically low-interest rates. As you can tell, there was little to no emotion behind the decision for him, but for me, it was very different. If you think back on the various big or small decisions you have made financially, I guarantee there were many emotions experienced.

Some may see this as a weakness in the process or that women should not be the ultimate decision-maker for financial decisions because they are more emotionally driven. I believe that women bring another aspect to the table that is intriguing to others watching the decision unfold. Women have the unique ability to tell a story either outwardly or inwardly when they make a financial decision that can be captivating to their audience. They bring a “softer” approach to finances that can lead to sealing the deal in their personal or professional life. 

Emotions can be wildly ranging depending on the type of decision or current circumstances. It is important to understand the “why” behind the emotion one is feeling and how that impacts the decision to spend or save. One of the reasons I believe women can often be seen as the uncontrollable spender in a relationship is because we tend to spend more in extreme situations. For example, if life is not going well, women tend to cope with the emotion of anxiety, depression, and stress by spending more. Additionally, when everything in life seems to be going well, we tend to celebrate those moments by choosing the same spending pattern with a different “why.”

Additionally, emotions behind money often are fostered by our past and history with money. I had the privilege of growing up in a very financially conservative home where my parents were frugal and made many sacrifices for my brother and me to attend private schools. My parents were a great example of a couple that set up a strong financial legacy, and this has deeply played a role in the way I view money and make financial decisions today. Suppose you came from a family where money was not discussed or handled poorly. In that case, you may have noticed your inability to budget properly or even find the right resources to guide you into making better financial decisions. There may be strong emotions behind how to spend and save money because you want to do better for your family and not repeat the cycle of poverty or poor spending habits – this is a profound realization that can and will alter the course of one’s future.

Regardless of where you find yourself on the scale of emotions behind money, know that these emotions are real and valid and that each person can go through varying emotions when faced with a financial decision. Emotions around money often show what you are most passionate about in life, and the decisions that provoke more emotion tend to reveal those passions and desires. Embrace those moments fully, and let’s continue to celebrate our unique design as women during this month and every month of the year.

As an action step, take some time to consider the financial decisions you have made recently and ask these questions –

  1. What was the decision being made?
  2. What were the circumstances at the time?
  3. Which emotions did I feel before, during, and after the decision?
  4. Do I believe I made the best decision, or do I wish I would have handled it differently?