One of the grossest facets of toxic masculinity is the Dudebro, and they are unfortunately pervasive in the world of personal finance.
What’s a dudebro?
A Dudebro is a cis, heterosexual, able-bodied white man blissfully oblivious to how much privilege he enjoys. Because he has literally no barriers to his success, he enthusiastically promotes personal responsibility, mindset, hard work, and bootstrapping as the only things necessary to achieve your goals.
Because for him, that is all that’s necessary.
The dudebro has never faced discrimination. He might think he has, and he’ll call it “reverse racism” or “reverse sexism”.
Dudebros throw tantrums at even the smallest inconvenience in their lives because everything has always been easy for them. When they succeed at something, no matter how trivial, they are insufferably self-congratulatory. They then immediately turn around to bestow their wisdom on how to crush your goals to everyone else.
How does the dudebro show up in personal finance?
Picture this: a white middle-class college-educated male starts a personal finance blog.
In it, he doles out practical financial advice with motivation and encouragement with a dose of toxic masculinity. He gives earth-shattering money tips like “pay off your highest-interest debt first” and “start saving when you’re young”.
He then pats himself on the back for achieving a six-figure net worth by his late twenties without tipping his hat to graduating debt-free, getting a job through his dad’s connections, marrying a woman that brought more than 50% of his household’s financial assets into the marriage, and being lucky enough to live in a low cost of living area.
He has never missed a promotion, been denied a raise, or suffered a disability. One time his car broke down, but thanks to his incredible foresight and discipline, he had an Emergency Fund on hand to pay for the repair. You can read exactly how he did it, and it consists of never facing any emergencies in the time it takes to save an Emergency Fund! Wow! Incredible insight!
The kindest dudebros are simply sweetly oblivious to the reality that they had a clear, unobstructed runway to success that required them to do absolutely nothing else but put one foot in front of the other.
The cruelest dudebros cry that people with debt are lazy, count their wife’s salary as a secondary income for themselves, and sneer at anyone who “wastes” money on frivolities like takeout coffee.
Simply put, PF Dudebros are here to make you feel bad about yourself.
The circle-jerk of bad advice makes PF Dudebros believe they’re the norm
As if it’s not enough that there are so many Dudebros in Personal Finance, they’re all best buds with each other so they build each other up and reinforce their tone-deaf advice.
One will publish a bootstrap mindset motivational article, and the rest will come running to tweet and comment about how “inspirational” it is, creating a virtual circle-jerk of praise. You’ve never seen a bromance like a PF dudebro bromance. That is the truest love on earth.
Not one of them notices that only middle-class white guys are cheering on middle-class white guys. The PF Dudebro thinks the only people in the world are middle-class white guys.
But can you blame them? Finance still remains one of the industries largely dominated by men, and men tend to benefit the most from it. Not only do men out-earn women, they out-wealth them too. Women have only $0.32 to every $1 of a man’s financial assets. How’s that for gender disparity?
How to know you’re dealing with a Personal Finance Dudebro
How do you know if you’re dealing with a PF Dudebro or just a regular guy with a personal finance blog? Well, there are some easy to spot clues.
Look out for the following:
- They insult people for having different values than their own for money
- They call people with debt “lazy” or “unmotivated”
- They accuse you of having a “victim mentality” if you express any frustration at a barrier you’re facing to financial security
- They insist everything is the result of your “choices”, even things that are completely out of your control like being laid off
- They don’t believe privilege is a thing (even though they have more of it than anybody else!)
- They deny racism and sexism can have a negative impact on a person’s income and net worth because it’s never happened to them!
- They somehow always find a way to slip misogynistic comments (usually some form of slut-shaming) in their articles even though there is NO CONTEXT for it in a personal finance piece
I’m not going to name names because you already know who these people are. Also because naming names is useless because it’s not just one PF Dudebro. There’s so many of them it’s a genre. That’s why I’m able to write this post and you’re reading while nodding in agreement.
We know these boys. We have to deal with them and their hot takes all the time.
Why is Dudebro Culture so problematic?
The reason we need to recognize, denounce, and then decidedly ignore Dudebro Culture is because it’s toxic. It alienates people who are looking for help but can’t simply pull themselves up from their bootstraps to get it.
For many people, the first stop on their personal journey to getting their finances organized isn’t “working harder”. It’s understanding and compassion for their situation, self-forgiveness, and patience in planning a workable path forward.
Dudebro culture makes people feel bad. Not only is this totally in and of itself terrible, it also doesn’t get anything done. People who feel shamed and depressed aren’t motivated to move forward.
There is no universal experience of personal finance
We don’t all go through life with the advantages of a middle-class white man, even if the PF Dudebro wholeheartedly believes the way he experiences the world is the way the world is.
We’ve worked hard at Money After Graduation to provide personal finance resources that are practical for everyone. We’ve also worked hard to share the experiences of people of color, the LGBTQ community, and more. We still fall short. But we’re still glad to uplift different voices so personal finance doesn’t become a dudebro vacuum.
I’m white so I can’t speak at length about the racism of the PF dudebro, but I deal with the aggressive hostile misogyny on a pretty regular basis.
The sexism in personal finance is especially jarring but always prominent because PF dudebros see women, not as autonomous human beings, but pieces in their financial plan.
The PF dudebro considers a relationship only in the context of a financial asset. They will brazenly declare your best shot at
happiness wealth is marrying a docile woman with a career that can be readily discarded as soon as you have children.
Before babies arrive, you’ll see the PF dudebro counting his wife’s salary as “additional income” to his own. Once she withdraws from the workforce to raise their children, he’ll express genuine bewilderment that other families have daycare fees because childcare is free. Unless of course, you made a bad decision in choosing the wrong spouse!
If you challenge a PF dudebro on their misogyny, the never reflect on it or even stop talking. In fact, they tend to double-down.
One PF dudebro recently incurred the wrath of the women of PF Twitter by responding to Marty’s innocuous tweet about dating & marriage with the sage advice that you need to marry young to get a “virgin 10”.
They have no idea how awful they are
Undoubtedly the most infuriating thing about the personal finance dudebro is he has no idea he is awful. He actually thinks he’s a pretty great guy. After all, he’s here bestowing his incredible wisdom so all may benefit!
If you try to reason with a PF dudebro by explaining how something he said was racist or sexist, he’ll get extremely whiny and defensive. He’ll insist that he doesn’t actually think single mothers or people of color are bad, they’re just not as good as other people.
How to deal with a PF Dudebro
Call them out.
Seriously. If someone is using personal finance to be a racist homophobic sexist jerk, tell them to pipe down. No one wants to hear their hot take on white supremacy right next to how to consolidate debt at the lowest APR. These men don’t know that their behavior is unacceptable, so we have to keep telling them until they get it.
After you call them out, stop consuming their content.
The last thing these boys need is more clicks. Particularly because they’re not actually saying anything that earth-shattering or useful. They are truly churning out the exact same content as everyone else is, except with a dose of insults.
You can skip it and get your advice elsewhere. In fact, we have some great recommendations!
Follow rad Financial Feminists instead
In the meantime, you can support feminists in personal finance instead. Some of the best accounts doing the greatest legwork in clamping down on the patriarchy while empowering women to take control of their finances are right here:
Progress towards equality is slow, but at least it’s satisfying. May we all enjoy more peace and prosperity once the PF dudebro is ignored enough to finally change his ways.