NEW YORK (LearnVest) -- Some of us handle our money flawlessly, perfectly, brilliantly, all of the time.
But most of us don't.
Most of us make mistakes here and there. We make some mistakes more than others, because of our personalities, or our upbringing ... or sometimes even our gender.
It's ridiculous, but true.
We've heard it firsthand—from our readers. In fact, we went through hundreds of reader submissions and found examples of the most common stories that cross our desks every day.
Let's be clear: Not all women make these mistakes. Not all men avoid them. But in our experience, these are a few female financial problem areas that can lead to major debt and lots of stress.
Ever bailed out an ex? Indulged in a little more retail therapy than you meant to? Or woken up one day and realized you didn't know as much as you thought you did about managing your money? You just might recognize yourself.
Of course, if you don't, good for you. We're just saying, bad money snafus happen to good people. But read on: We'll show you the top seven mistakes women make—and what to do instead.
1 . Feeling Guilty
"When we were together, I let my ex stay with me rent-free until he found an apartment, lent him my furniture and paid for every date because I had a job and he didn't. When I lost my job, he paid for my rent for a few months and bills, etc. Now that we're broken up, he wants me to pay him back for the rent he insisted on covering. I am still on unemployment and barely getting by. I feel so guilty because we didn't end up as the forever couple and while I can't (nor would I ...) calculate all of my assistance getting him settled in NYC, he can quite easily."
A 2011 study from Eversave.com found that 67% of women have felt guilt about a purchase. But that's not the only opportunity for guilt: There's also staying in a job you feel guilty about abandoning, giving someone money because you feel guilty about their situation and, oh, doing the opposite of what you want when it comes to working after having children because you feel guilty about being a good mom (more on that here).
This guilt effect might not be limited to finances, either. Some studies suggest that women are more inclined than men to feel any kind of guilt. And we'd argue, more likely to bail out their exes, too.
2. Saving Others
"I committed the financial sin that I said I would never do. Ever. I allowed my boyfriend to use my credit card to help grow his business. Let's just say it's added a new, uncomfortable facet to our relationship."
It's long been said that women are more empathetic than men--they're instinctively attuned to what others are thinking and feeling. But one study published in Psychology Today suggests that this empathy isn't an innate quality ... it's just that women try harder to empathize. Another study found that women feel equal levels of empathy no matter how they feel about the other person's morality, whereas male empathy is conditional on a moral judgment. In other words, they empathize only if the other person is worthy. So when women are actively trying to be understanding, and naturally not judging, you get saviors.
The savior lends money to her mother/sister/friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/neighbor to alleviate their burdens ... by taking on that burden herself. The next time someone else's finances look tight, direct them toward our financial planners. Lending money is a lovely gesture, but it's even nicer to help them set up a long-term financial plan.
3.Not Advocating for Yourself
"My boyfriend of two years talked about selling his condo and buying a house. I wanted to have the security of a definite future and commitment with him, so I gave him $10,000 toward the down payment. However, two years later, I’m no longer crazy madly deeply in love and have no intention of selling my home and moving in with him in 'his' house. I could really use that $10,000 ... I don’t know how to tell him."
Women can have trouble saying no. Whether in the office or at home, some women have a hard time advocating for themselves, especially when it means turning down a request. And it's understandable. Studies show that although women who advocate for themselves in the workplace are rewarded with due promotion (nice!), such behavior is often perceived as "aggressive" and "unlikeable" when it's from someone wearing heels (not nice).
But you can do more than just ask nicely to get your money back. It's important that you sign a contract or agreement when borrowing or lending a considerable amount of money. In fact, documents like prenups were created for just this sort of situation. In Getting Hitched Bootcamp, we cover those documents, as well as all the right and wrong ways to combine finances with someone you love.
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