We’ve known for decades – generations probably – that men and women see money and its purposes very differently. And if you’re still not quite sure, spend an hour with any one of the Real Housewives franchises on Bravo. There’s never been a more eye-opening, jaw dropping and silly waste of money. And there’s a reason there’s no “Real Husbands” franchise – there would likely be no viewers, but only because most men see no reason to bicker over who spent more that week on frivolous nonsense. Ah, but we’ll that story for another day. The point is – money is spent depending on who’s spending it. Credit cards are used based on who’s charging. It’s just the way it is. Now, though, there’s new evidence that provides even more insight.

First, a few statistics you may or may not be aware of. First, men actually carry more debit, but women are more likely to reach out for help in the way of debt counseling, especially when it comes to credit card debt. That might be why women tend to be more optimistic when it comes to money, too.

Citigroup conducted a poll and it revealed that more than 80% of women under the age of 40 are hopeful when it comes to their personal finances. They also believe things are looking good on the horizon, a sentiment not shared by their male counterparts, or at least not to the same extent.

Because women are far more likely to turn to professionals for help, they naturally are more hopeful. They feel as though they’re making great strides and smarter money decisions that will serve them well in the future. There’s a sense of empowerment that comes with a willingness to step outside the box and make big changes like that; like you’re in control of your future.

Women aren’t wasteful, either. Whether it’s water or wardrobes, women are paying much more attention to the materialistic side of money and credit more than ever. And women are also more likely to keep up with their due dates for their monthly obligations. Here’s the kicker though – women are more likely to keep a mini financial computer buzzing in their heads. They’re the ones who are constantly reminding themselves, “Visa is due on the 10th” or “Need to pay the satellite bill when I get home”.

In another study conducted earlier this year, it was revealed that men are the ones who will likely justify holding on to their cash when money’s tight and hold off on paying bills. It makes sense then that they are more likely to default on loans – whether it’s a mortgage or a credit card. The ratios of men and women who defaulted two years ago was 60 and 40 respectively. It’s possible those numbers could shift as the economy continues to improve and more Americans find jobs.

But there’s more to this story that some might find surprising. There are more than 27 million small businesses in the United States, and over 7.7 million of these businesses are owned by women – and its indicative of a 20.1% increase from 2002. The numbers are rising and in fact, the small businesses owned by women accounted for $1.2 trillion last year. Women are thinking long term when it comes to their financial futures. Because women still earn a fraction of what their male counterparts earn, they’re now taking steps to write their success stories – and they want to be sure those stories include financial independence.

I got sick of my one dimensional career. I basically outgrew the pot I was planted in. I wanted more,

said Suzan McDowell, President & CEO of Circle of One Marketing.

Just owning a small business opens up a lot of doors when it comes to finances. More women are applying for small business loans, which is serving as the right foundation to get their companies off to a strong start. If they’re turning to SBA loans initially, they’re also holding off on opening business credit card accounts. Maybe it’s smart business and just don’t want to take on too much debt in a new business that offers no guarantees of success.

The reality is many women are still facing uphill battles. Another small business owner, Debbie Benedit, said,

I have 36 years of a successful business under my belt and it is all but impossible to get the capital or investors I need. Controlling my cost without jeopardizing the quality and affordability of my food is probably my biggest challenge right now.

This brings the entire quagmire front and center – men are more likely to default on their loans, yet they earn more than women and they’re more likely to herd investors than women.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with the results of the poll? Who manages the finances in your home? Join the conversation.

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