The root cause for many quarrels among couples comes down to cold, hard cash, says Kelley Keehn, author of "The Woman's Guide to Money" and host of W Network's reality show "Burn My Mortgage."
"We often choose spouses who are very different from us -- and very different financially," says Keehn. "There can be a lot of arguments when one partner is a spender while the other is a saver."
We recently caught up with the experienced bank investment manager to explain the specific challenges that women face dealing with money, relationships and men.
CreditCards.ca: Why do some women seem to approach money so differently from men?
Kelley Keehn: In general, I think there's a lot of pressure on men to know about finances and investing. I find this makes it harder for men to ask questions when they should. Maybe women don't mind asking more money-related questions because we're not as susceptible to those same expectations.
I've been with my husband for 12 years. Although my husband sometimes acts like he knows everything, I can stump him by asking for a quick, one-word difference between a stock and a bond. That's because his financial knowledge is very limited. Some people just don't know, so I go over our overall money situation with him at least once a year.
I've written at great lengths about setting up "date nights" and including your significant other in discussions about financial decisions, because I don't think anyone should be handing over control of their financial life.
CreditCards.ca: Can misunderstanding credit be especially risky for women?
Keehn: There are so many issues when it comes to women and credit. Generally, women look after day-to-day spending and bill paying. Even a stay-at-home mom is immersed in daily financial issues. If there isn't enough money, she has to rely on credit for staples and household items. That pressure and stress falls on her.
I also think women are wrongfully accused of being big spenders because it seems like they are buying everything. But maybe they haven't bought anything new for themselves in nearly a year.
CreditCards.ca: What is your opinion on couples using supplementary credit cards?
Keehn: Generally, it's the woman who has the supplementary credit card. But I've seen more and more younger fellows in their 30s and 40s apply for a supplementary card where the wife is the primary cardholder.
Few people really understand the difference between primary and supplementary cards. If my husband has a credit card under my account, he pulls out that card with his own number and name on it. This may lead him to wrongfully assume that he's building credit in his name -- which he is not. If that was his only source of credit history, he'd be in a lot of trouble if I was to divorce him, die or something of that sort.
It's just the reality of today that you need good credit, and you're going to need at least one or two credit cards and be responsible with them. I really encourage people to look after their own credit reports, and build their credit individually because it's like protecting your identity.
CreditCards.ca: Do you think that women are more susceptible to peer-pressure spending?
Keehn: It is a lot of pressure. We've become so engrossed in what our peer group is doing that I don't think we have a proper sense anymore of what reality is. But I think men face it, too, with their spending on golf clubs, boats and things of that sort.
What I encourage both women and men to do if you feel that peer pressure, is to start thinking about introducing some new peer groups into your life to put money issues into perspective.
For example, I had a luxury car which I kept for 12 years so I could justify having spent that much money. When I really had to buy a new car, I could not with all conscience buy a luxury vehicle when I could buy a Hyundai that had everything the Mercedes had -- but at half the list price. I have a lot of friends with cars that cost from $100,000 to $120,000. I made my decision because two new friends had introduced me to Doctors Without Borders [an international humanitarian organization].
As soon as I put into perspective the fact that I could donate that extra amount of money and fix the cataracts of thousands of children, my old peer group didn't matter anymore. A new peer group can help you realize that you don't really need those new boots or the best golf clubs.
We're pretty blessed in Canada, so I think a little gratitude helps as well.