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Saving for the future: Men, money and work

Are Young Men More Irresponsible Financially Than Young Women? We heard from old men and their opinion of young women and their finances in the Royal Gazette article of April 06, 2013. http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20130406/COLUMN07/704069989

Older men — who just happened to be financial advisers — were rather blunt in their opinion of whether young women handled their finances in an appropriate manner.

Moneywise has heard from young professional women themselves. Their feedback on their successes and accomplishments was an eye-opener, extraordinary, refuting the old men and their old opinions survey.

It is appropriate that we write about men this time around.

Any man reading this article may find it highly amusing. They know, and I know that they know that women haven’t a clue about what men want. Ah, but men do like to talk (and write about money), as much as woman. Here in their own words is how some men feel about money, work, and their role in society.

The Age of Abandonment of Eternal Play.

One question that I’ve often asked of men in client meetings is, “As a young man, did you ever stop to think that you would be working for the rest of your life?”

The answer generally, is “No — I don’t think that far ahead, although, I thought I would follow what my own father did.”

Even if you ignore the high profile talk about careers, fulfillment, and ego satisfaction, the reality is that the dependable man will go to work starting anywhere from age 12 onward and will work, gainfully it is hoped, for the rest of his life. Such a prospect is probably best not to dwell on. Do boys play with total abandonment because subliminally, they know this is their only time of total freedom?

How are Men Perceived? Men tend to define themselves by their peer groups, their career position within a company, and their professional ability to be financially successful. A UK study found that fathers, mothers, and teenage children were overwhelmingly convinced that the main contribution men could make to their families was in providing an income. Men who earned smaller salaries than their contemporaries and friends, who had been seriously ill, or been made redundant voiced feelings of frustration and sadness about their supposed ‘failure’ to take care of their families. One unemployed man said, ‘I am no use to anyone, I can’t provide.’

Men Admit That They Are Confused about the blurring of financial roles. If a man has been raised to show love and respect by providing financial support, and his spouse/partner does not need it because she has a career, what is he worth? How does he define himself? When men and women argue about finances, it’s not about the money. It’s really about respect, control, security, self-esteem, and love.

Have young men kept up? The latest generation of young women has become, in many ways, the most successful of all time. More young women attend university than young men; women in their twenties earn more money, according to author Guy Garcia about his book, Dismissed, Denigrated and Demonized: “The Decline of Men” in an interview with Ad Age, Robert Rosenthal, February 12, 2009.

Our reader feedback (both from Bermuda and the United States, yes!) emphasised the diligence of young women in saving, acquiring assets. One reader stated that most of her female friends owned homes by age 25/26, establishing and owning successful businesses, while men they know have saved little, own few assets, and often seem to be waiting around for some self-sufficient lady to take care of them.

Do some men never work hard enough to achieve the brass ring because the effort to generate the reward is not worth the effort?

Men are getting married later — or not at all.

Young men are in no hurry to take that walk down the aisle, precisely because they fear (in study after study) that they may be decimated in a later divorce, not exactly an overwhelming endorsement for the marriage game. Statistics are high in Bermuda; the average marriage span before filing for divorce is between four and eight years.

Economics and career potential play a huge role in marriage decisions. According to Business Insider, Linette Lopez, Sep 22, 2011, reporting on census data, “Its Official: The Recession Has Created a New Lost Generation”, more young men than women are returning home to live with their parents. Marriage in the 24-32 age group has dropped to 44.2%.

For those who have ended marriages, while it is true that typically men’s incomes may actually increase after a divorce, they very often feel that they have been left with most of the financial burdens and little of the family life.

Yet, Men have Sincere Priorities. When men are asked to state their life and financial goals in order of priority importance: at the top is maintaining good health, then keeping a family financially secure, having spiritual fulfillment and lastly financial independence.

Some Men Only Need Three Pairs of Shoes. In a bit of levity, you almost never see a man obsessing about shoes the way we ladies do. Maybe we shoe collectors could learn something from the ‘less shoes are better philosophy’. The average US woman (here in Bermuda, too — bet on it) between ages 20 and 35 will purchase more than 30 pairs of shoes before she saves $30,000.

On the other hand, men often won’t think twice about spending for entertainment, an over-embellished car, trips to gambling city for the urge to hit the jackpot, and the urge to splurge called “I want it, so I will buy it”.

Men and women learn differently; save and invest differently; think differently; care differently; work and innovate differently but most often the end game is the same.

Getting a man is not a plan, nor is finding a lady a payday. Each individual has to stand accountable for his or her personal financial security.

So, men, let’s hear from you. What are your thoughts?

Martha Harris Myron CPA PFS CFP (USA) JP is a Bermudian journalist and cross border financial planning specialist focused on offshore financial perspectives, particularly the challenges for international citizens living, working and straddling the North Atlantic pond: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Europe, and the island of Bermuda, the premier international finance centre. martha.myron@gmail.com

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone, and not The Royal Gazette. This article is intended for general educational purposes only and cannot be used for specific individual tax, investment, or retirement advice, nor can this article be relied upon for any personal financial planning purposes.

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Published May 25, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm)

Saving for the future: Men, money and work

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