Memo to Warren Buffett: Actually, women are better than men at managing money

Warren Buffett inspires a fact-check.
Warren Buffett inspires a fact-check.
Image: AP Photo/Nati Harnik
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Though many investors revere Warren Buffett for his ability to select stocks, they may want to look elsewhere for information on the spending habits of the sexes.

The Oracle of Omaha today recounted an incident involving his first wife, the late Susan Buffett, whom he married in 1952.

Buffett happened to be speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit.

The comment evoked the comedic stylings of a bygone era, although given Buffett’s reputation for thrift, he may not have been joking.

But the stereotype that the comment revived, about women and spending, turns out to be off base.

That’s because women are better at managing debt than men are, according to Experian, an information services company that has studied the financial habits of both sexes.

Men incur 4.3% more debt and use 2% more of their available credit than women do. They also fall behind on their mortgage payments 7% more often, and trail women when it comes to credit scores—according to Experian, women have an average score of 675, which is one point better than their counterparts who carry a Y chromosome.

“When looking closer at our data and cross-referencing it with other data sources, we see that women working full-time in the U.S. earn approximately 23% less income than men but that women are taking steps to manage their finances better than men,” Michele Raneri, Experian’s vice president for analytics, said in the statement that accompanied the study’s release last year.

Women also are more likely than men to get their families out of financial trouble, experts say.

“We often see the women will do almost anything to keep the household afloat,” Lea Loethen, a counselor with the nonprofit credit counseling agency American Financial Solutions told Bankrate.com.