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Which spouse best handles family debt?

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Oct 7th, 2013 @ 7:34am

SALT LAKE CITY — When it comes to handling family debt, who is better at it, the husband or the wife?

Financial counselors say the two sexes go about handling money in completely different ways.

Some counselors say when it comes to money, both sides have an unrealistic expectation of their spouse. They feel either their spouse knows nothing, or they give them way too much credit.

AAA Fair Credit Foundation President Preston Cochrane said, "I think, in general, both male and female, they think [the other] person has a good understanding of how to manage finances, which is not true."

Cochrane said most people who need the foundation's help, man or woman, have never taken a financial management class. He added that most people who speak with him learn how to deal with their money through trial and error.

"It's real easy to point fingers at one another when it comes down to your monthly budget and to say, ‘The problem is you. You're spending more money than I am,'" he said.

A survey conducted by Prudential shows women don't seem to have as much confidence in their ability to handle money as men do. The 2012-13 survey shows 15 percent of women call themselves a "financial beginner," compared to only 7 percent of men. Cochrane believes most people should consider themselves beginners.

In his experience, men save money more frequently. However, women are more realistic about debt becoming a problem.

"Folks that typically call us are [mostly] women. That's not necessarily meaning that they're the ones that have racked up all the debt, but they're the ones that are taking control of it," he said.

He also said the vast majority of people who come to the foundation's financial management classes are women. He thinks it might be because men may have a higher risk threshold when it comes to money. Women, on the other hand, don't seem to have that same threshold.

"They want to fix it right now. They don't want to procrastinate. They don't want to wait 30 days until the next bill comes due. They want to hit it head on," he explained.

Cochrane also said many couples do not talk with each other about how they will handle their bills before they get married. When people are in love and planning their wedding, they never seem to look up their fiancé's credit score, so they get married without knowing what they're in for.

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