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I was signed up to read "The Millionaire Women Next Door" for my women's group at work, mostly because I read "The Millionaire Next Door" and reported back that it was interesting. Part of me wondered what they could possibly say was different for women but it had some interesting perspectives.

Both books really focus on the fact that people gain financial independence not by making a huge annual salary, but by living very frugally and being smart with the money they do have. That's the same for men and women.

But I found the chapters on marriage interesting. When interviewing wealthy men, they found that most millionaires were married and had stayed married to the same person, which is not all that common these days.

The wealthy women, on the other hand, seemed to get divorced at around the same rate as the general population. And what's more interesting, they got divorced for the same reason: they were married to the wrong guy, who the authors label "marginal bob" because the profiles were so similar.

"Marginal Bob" is a guy who thinks he's all that. Charismatic, thinks he can sell anything or run any business. He spends money like crazy. He wants to control all the family finances. He thinks presents fix everything... one woman talked about her frustration with her husband who surprised her with a new car, bought with her money.

Several of the financial books I've read discuss the "shopaholic woman" stereotype and the myth that women are the financial demise of most families... in all their studies, men and women share equal blame when it comes to overspending. Even Dave Ramsey, who could be a little sexist in his opinions about who "should" be the breadwinner, said in his book that men are much more likely to secretly enter into some grand project or investment scheme that blows away thousands of dollars. Then they turn around and joke about their wives buying shoes.

It's almost like the American male is conditioned to feel like the money is his to do with as he pleases. In marriages where these entitled men are the breadwinners, the couple spirals down together and can never get financially ahead. In marriages where the women are breadwinners, these entitled men become the "marginal Bob" who gets kicked to the curb. Either way it's a dangerous way for guys to think, and the chapter struck a cord with me because I feel like I've seen these marriages!

I was nervous about reading this chapter about how you shouldn't marry the wrong guy, because I was afraid it would tell me not to marry a poor person, which I kinda did. But that's not what the book said at all. Marc may not be a high earner but he's totally open to life on a budget, did not come with credit card debt, never asks me to dump thousands of dollars into some crazy scheme. He likes to have fun but always talks to me about anything he thinks we should spend money on, and goes along with my desire for us to be responsible.

But from the outside in other relationships I've definitely seen the other kind of guys... overconfident, smarmy, thinking a new surprise purchase will fix everything. Overspenders of either sex are pretty toxic in a marriage but overspending plus societal privilege is a special brand of badness.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 17th, 2013 05:57 pm (UTC)
wow you just described an issue in a couple I know about in a way I'd never thought about before. will have to mull it over a bit...
Nov. 17th, 2013 08:00 pm (UTC)
Gambling addicts spend a lot more money than shoe buyers.
Nov. 17th, 2013 11:59 pm (UTC)
You know what drives me crazy? When someone writes Book A. And then goes back and writes Book B on the same topic, but now geared toward women. I'm sure there are some distinctions, but it's rarely that book B is an add-on. Instead, Book A tends to just assume that everyone was male. Why are "millionaires" automatically male?

Anyway. This reminds me of advice I've seen elsewhere for women on how important marrying the right person is if you want to get ahead in your career. In that case, "right" means supportive of your career, willing to be an equal partner at home and in raising children, willing to trade off career moves or let his career take the backseat permanently for yours. And while I see the sense in it, it kind of makes me wonder...are there people out there giving advice on who to marry to men? Or is it just that our whole society is so skewed toward what works best for men that it's only women who have to worry?
Nov. 18th, 2013 03:21 am (UTC)
well, too their credit, most millionaires are male... about 2/3s it looks like: http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2011/06/22/u-s-has-record-number-of-millionaires/

But yes, I'm with you in kinda hating the "for women" sub-genre. Our book club also requested "The Art of War For Women" and lo and behold, there was a plain old "Art of War" that did not say it was for men, it's just that men are the default and anything about women apparently has to be special.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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