Men are the weakest (money) link
When it comes to dealing with debt, men have much to learn.
Traditionally the male of the family has always been seen as the breadwinner, and men themselves are often seen as the higher earner of the sexes.
We’re not here to say that any of these traditional interpretations are right, nor to discuss the inequality of pay between the sexes, often when they’re doing exactly the same job.
But as things improve in the workplace, and women and men are more likely to receive equal pay, another divide is steadily opening up – this time around debt.
The debt divide
New figures released by CCCS show that on average men are in more debt than women.
On average men who contacted the charity last year owed £21,402 while women who contacted the charity owed £17,321.
Both sexes were reaching out for assistance and counselling about problem debt and while a £4,081 difference between the sexes might not seem much, it does have significance when we see the other statistics
Although men were in more debt, they’re less likely to seek assistance. CCCS counselled 55,023 women in 2010 but only 53,569 men. Considering that our figures show that on average men have higher debts, these figures also support the clichéd male stereotype of ‘not asking for help’.
Putting on our psychologist’s hat we can make some assumptions about the differences between the sexes from these figures.
Facing financial difficulties, women might find it easier to admit they have a problem. They seek help and advice earlier and are less likely to bury their head in the sand.
Men don’t want to admit they need help. They’re also more likely to continue to borrow money in a bid to sort the problem out themselves and/or continue as if there is no problem. This would explain why fewer men seek counselling, and when they finally do admit to needing help, the problem is worse.
Is this a natural difference between the sexes?
Speaking as a man, if I’m driving somewhere with my wife and I get lost, my wife demands I ask for directions from pedestrians long before I’m finally prepared to give in - usually several miles later! Would I act the same way about money troubles?
Are men more likely to take out consolidation loans? This is a solution that often just moves the real problem further into the future, but is that easier for men to accept than to actually stop the car and admit they’ve no idea where they’re going?
The South East has the biggest difference in debt owed between the sexes with a gap of nearly £6,000 between men and women. Are men in the South East going that extra mile with the credit card in the hope they can find their way back onto the financial A road?
The Debt Map
It’s worth going through our CCCS Debt View analysis to look at the overall statistics for your area as they do vary from place to place. Women in Brighton for example are less likely to seek debt help than men, while women and men in Blackburn are equally likely to seek help, even though on average the men there owe more.
We don’t want couples to argue over directions, but it seems clear that men and women have different attitudes towards finance and borrowing, as well as asking for help.
Luckily we have the perfect ‘Sat Nav’ for any man looking for a route out of his financial road block. You don’t need to speak to anyone directly to use our online counselling service, you just need to enter your details and it will tell you the correct route to take. It might ask you to ‘bear left’ into a debt management plan, ‘bear right’ into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) or offer one of many debt help solutions - but at least there’s no need to stop the car and ask a pedestrian.