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September 24, 2018 | M&V

A best-selling Canadian author of 14 books on economic trends, real estate, the financial crisis, personal finance strategies, taxation and politics. Nationally-known speaker and lecturer on macroeconomics, the housing market and investment techniques. He is a licensed Investment Advisor with a fee-based, no-commission Toronto-based practice serving clients across Canada.

Despite the efforts of modern politicians to fuzzify genders and blur sexes, men and women are different. For one thing, the females last longer. That might have something to do with 55-year-old guys playing hard hockey after doing nothing but watching it for half a decade, operating heavy equipment in flip-flops or learning how to wire a 220-volt outlet on YouTube.

Men roll the dice, too. It’s why the dudes can’t help buying penny mining stocks, putting their entire life savings into Tesla shares or loading up with four pre-con condos they can’t possibly afford to close on. It’s about winning. Scoring. Dominance. The Smartest-Guy-in-the-Room syndrome. Lots of men simply can’t see the difference between investing and gambling. They want instant gratification, big returns, fat cap gains – even when it means bloated risk and heavy borrowing.

But for women (to keep on wildly generalizing), risk is the enemy, to be avoided, shunned, diminished and escaped from at all costs. It’s why, if you frequent female-dominated websites like those of Gail Alphabet, the No. 1 goal is simple and dominant: pay off debt. The focus isn’t on multiplying money, but escaping obligations – that’s the path to financial independence and freedom.

After that, as this blog can attest, the big life goal of females seems to be securing a home. So real estate – rather than being wealthy – is the prize. And once you get some, paying down the mortgage (no matter how cheap the interest rate may be) is the driving reason to be employed. Real estate equals security, a nest for a family, a shelter from external forces and, lately, all the financial plan anybody needs.

I can’t count the times Mars and Venus have sat across the desk. One economic unit, forever and inextricably intertwined, romantically and emotionally embraced, mutually-dependent yet with secretly competing agendas about how to achieve common goals. Sometimes the result is conflict, but usually one partner yields a little more. Too often it’s the woman.

Lately catering to women and girls is the Big New Thing in the financial business. There are efforts to recruit women advisors, special programs for women entrepreneurs, unique courses, lectures, seminars and even products for women. At the heart of it is a belief women come at money in a disadvantaged way, because they earn less and are expected to rear kids, keep homes, tend aging parents and put up with dodgy husbands. The wage gap may be related to leaving the workforce more often for family reasons, but over time it can be crippling. So women need to work harder at investing to close that gap.

And therein may lie a problem.

By focusing on risk, not reward, and real estate rather than retirement, the advice a lot of women are getting is bunk. It leads them to embrace GICs and those awful HISAs instead of equities and ETFs. They strive to retire home loans with sub-3% rates with money that could earn twice that amount if conservatively invested. They chose to collect interest, and pay tax at their marginal rate on every dollar, rather than halve the tax bill by collecting dividends or capital gains. For too many, investing means “not losing money” instead of making it.

Okay, but wait. Women live longer. They earn less. So they require more.

My mother outlived my father by eight years. Dorothy’s mom survived Vic by over a decade. Without a doubt the most challenging years for them both, financially, came when alone. Granted, they were from a Leave-it-to-Beaver generation when being a stay-at-home mom was the norm and Guys Knew Everything, but their final years attested to a lack of planning. Both had real estate to sell. Both found that was not enough. When you’re old, you need cash flow.

These days it’s fashionable to blame men for society’s ills. Much of it’s deserved. We can be dorks. As mentioned, many guys have horrible investing and money management skills, not to mention leaving the seat up and buying stupid cars. But both genders have serious money handicaps to overcome. The seeds of failure are planted deep. Embracing reckless risk or fleeing from any of it are both lousy strategies.

The greatest threat, after all, is not losing money in a failed investment. It’s running out.

Mars and Venus have much to teach each other.

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September 24th, 2018

Posted In: The Greater Fool

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