Self-made millionaire Grant Cardone: This is why 'men will almost always win the money game'

Quarterback Jake Coker of the Alabama Crimson Tide after scoring a touchdown during the College Football National Championship Game against the Clemson Tigers at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.
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When it comes to financial priorities, men and women diverge. Men focus on earning more income while women focus on saving it, according to a recent LendingTree report. But, for entrepreneur, best-selling author and self-made millionaire Grant Cardone, focusing on saving instead of earning is a mistake.

"Money is a game of offense, and whoever plays that game the best wins, whether you are male or female," he tells CNBC Make It in response to the LendingTree data.

LendingTree surveyed 1,050 millennials and ranked differences between men and women's approaches to money. One was how to plan for the future.

"When ranking financial priorities, women said growing their savings account was of upmost importance regarding their finances for the next 12 to 24 months," the report states. "Men, on the other hand, are more focused on increasing their income."

Focusing on income is the better strategy, Cardone argues. In his own life, he spends 95 percent of his time trying to figure out how he can increase his income and five percent of his time looking at saving and budgeting. That, he says, is playing financial offense.

Saving, Cardone says, is playing defense – and by prioritizing it, women are missing an opportunity to get ahead.

"Whether it is because they have been held back for so long, earning disparities or any number of other oppression women over history have experienced, women are simply more defensive than men," he writes. "And because of this men will almost always win the money game."

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Olivia Mitchell, executive director of the pension research council at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, also says she isn't surprised by LendingTree's findings.

Focusing on income can have challenges for women, she says.

"We know that women tend to negotiate less energetically and less effectively for raises," she says. "Also, quite frankly, women tend to get penalized more in the job market if they make a mistake."

The focus on savings could also have to do with historical family structures and how those structures are changing. While women's retirement 30 years ago would depend "only on social security and their husband's pension," now, they are preparing for their own futures.

That shift, she says, has a lot to do with it.

Cardone agrees that history matters: He says the notion that saving is the path to financial security comes from a bygone era.

"Most of what we are taught still today is based on economics from the '50s when America was having booming job growth and there was salary growth," he writes.

Mitchell takes a more measured approach. In the long run, she says, focusing on saving and focusing on earning are "two sides of the same coin." The key is knowing when each is appropriate for you.

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