We all have heard the cliché that men never ask for directions. That may or may not be true on the road, but a new survey refutes the stereotype with respect to finances.
A recent survey by Country Financial finds that in a wide range of basic financial topics, men are more likely to ask for help than women are. Overall, 19.5% of survey respondents had never sought financial advice at all – but 23.6% of all female respondents reported never seeking financial advice as compared to 15.2% of men.
Out of the financial categories listed in the survey, the one topic women sought advice on the most was retirement planning (37%). Given that women on average live about five years longer than men and earn less money(approximately 83 cents for every dollar that men earn), retirement planning should be even more important to women – but men still had a higher overall rate of asking for retirement advice (45.2%).
The discrepancy in asking for advice holds across other categories such as taxes (42.1% for men, 33.9% for women), insurance (39.0% to 26.9%), estate planning (25.4% to 12.9%), debt management (20.4% to 15.8%) and non-retirement investments (30.1% to 24.1%).
Why would men seek advice more often than women would? Perhaps women simply don't need as much advice. Women tend to be better at relationships, and according to Leisa Peterson, Certified Financial Planner and Life Coach at WealthClinic, people should consider that "their relationship with money is actually really similar to their relationship with other people."
A Vanguard study from 2016 partially backs up this premise, finding that working women were saving between 7% and 16% more than men depending on their income levels. It's possible that women prefer to do their own research with available sources and take time to reach their own conclusions, while men just want to get to the answer as quickly as possible.
Regardless of your gender, there's no harm in asking for financial advice from a qualified source. Financial Educator and Author Tiffany "The Budgetnista" Aliche explains: "The number one piece of advice I can give someone with financial problems is 'Ask for help'...Just like you wouldn't set your own leg if you broke it, don't fix your own money by yourself if you have not been educated in how to do so."
Where should you go for education and advice? Internet resources are abundant, as are financial planners. However, there are alternatives. For those struggling to make ends meet, "I would always recommend a non-profit credit counseling agency," advises April Lewis-Parks, Director of Education and Public Relations at Consolidated Credit. "They will give you a range of options. Everybody's situation is different."
It makes sense to do initial research on your desired topic using Internet resources. Not only can you find advice on any financial topic for free, you can also do research on any financial planner or non-profit counseling agency that you plan to use. With a greater baseline understanding of the topic, you can more easily understand the counselor's advice – and also get a feel for advice that seems questionable enough to seek a confirming opinion.
Maybe you fit into this data profile and maybe you are an exception – but in either case, it's simply common sense to fill in gaps in your financial education by asking for advice from a trusted source. Don't be afraid to ask for help on retirement planning, investments, or any other important financial topic. As for directions to the nearest gas station, ask someone or use your phone!