• Margaret Curtis, MD

Do Women Need Different Financial Advice?

Updated: Jan 30, 2019

No, of course not.

Sound financial advice applies to everyone. That’s the beauty of it: tax laws are the same, dividends are the same, the power of compounding interest is the same for everyone. My money is worth exactly the same as yours.

Yes, definitely.

If you read enough personal finance literature you will start to notice two themes:

Men have an outsized voice. Like CEOs named John, male finance bloggers take up more than their share of their respective space. Much of the advice out there is written by men and seems to be aimed at men.

Sometimes this is because what you are reading is 30+ years old: Benjamin Graham didn’t write “The Intelligent Investor” with single, professional women in mind. Just change “he” to “she” as you read, and it’s still relevant.

Anyone writing on the internet today has no such excuse. Just when I was thinking we have left old stereotypes behind us, I read this on a financial website:

...from my experience the wives of physicians are the ones that are the cause of expensive lifestyles more than the male physician colleagues I know. I know some that work paycheck to paycheck to support the doctor wife lifestyle (some very high maintenance women which may the fault of the doc trying to get a “trophy wife”)

Hence this blog.

Advice aimed at women is not generally appropriate for high-earners. Women are a minority within medicine, and physicians are a minority in society. Women are also more likely to take on the majority of household tasks, regardless of their employment. Therefore, the audience who wants to save on groceries is larger than the audience that needs to know how to set up a solo 401k.

So the literature out there is not always inspiring, and it may not address our specific situations:

The female physician population is younger than the male, so we are more likely to be starting to save and to pay off debt.

Women who are physicians are more likely than men to be married to another physician and to be in a lower-paying specialty. This adds complexity to both our finances and our relationships.

We generally earn less than our male colleagues, for a variety of reasons, and the disparity in earnings is greatest during those crucial early-career years.

We are more likely to take on unpaid roles caring for family members.

We tend to be less effective at negotiating contracts.

You will notice that I haven’t even mentioned gender roles or social expectations around money. Books have been written about this. I will leave these alone for now, except to say that I am hopeful that the young women in medical school now and soon will have less baggage around money than past generations.

Dr Matilda Evans, the first black women physician in South Carolina
She would agree.

So women who are physicians need financial advice that is inclusive (the basics that apply to everyone) and specific (strategies for the situations they are likely to face). Easy.

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