When a Financial Crisis Hits Home, Men Are Slow to Ask For Help, Says HomeSavers USA

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In a financial crunch, don’t let something like machismo make a difficult situation far worse.

Of the thousands of homeowners who will fall behind on house payments this month, only a small portion will seek help from a housing counseling office. And among those, over 70% will be women. It’s all good fodder when men are reluctant to stop and ask driving directions and deny being lost. But when a family is facing a debt or housing crisis, that same stubbornness can be dangerous. If a family waits too long to seek help, it may be too late.

That’s what happened to Felicia Brown of Tallahassee in 2002. After her husband lost his job due to downsizing, they quickly ran through their savings. Soon they were behind on many bills and one day received a foreclosure notice from the mortgage company. She wanted to contact a counseling agency many weeks before, but was discouraged by her husband, certain they would get things caught up on their own. Soon they found themselves in real trouble. Their delay in seeking help had caused the foreclosure actions to progress to a point of no return. They were evicted soon after the home went to auction.

David Moakler, chief executive of HomeSavers USA, a national housing relief center, sees it all the time. “Women call for help more than twice as often as men. Many are seeking assistance without their husband even knowing about it. Once she learns that they are a candidate for a solution, she’ll report the good news to him and everyone is relieved. Men should not think they have to be experts at everything. Sometimes the most masculine action is to recognize when to seek expert help to protect the ones you care for. It’s sad when something as trivial as pride, causes a family to suffer.”

According to Olivia Mellan, author of Money Shy to Money Sure: A Woman’s Road Map to Financial Well-Being, men are reluctant to ask for help in these situations. Men tend to be the pioneers, raised to compete and win. For a man, seeking help can be an admission of failure or weakness. Women are far more social and collaborative when facing financial difficulty. They are much more comfortable sharing their problems in hopes of finding some good advice or help. Unlike men, women are not ashamed to ask for help because they view themselves as team members, looking to help one another in a time of need.

A Final Fact –

Although single women with children are twice as likely to fall behind on their mortgage payments, than men without children; they are 5 times more likely to seek assistance than single men.

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David Moakler
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