There’s nothing like a recession for highlighting where we’ve been going wrong with our money management. But do recent events mean that people will be more financially prudent this year?
Given all the horror stories about banks collapsing, assets being devalued and credit being harder to come by, I wondered how this would affect people’s money management and future planning, so I conducted my own research via an on-line survey.
As the new year approached I asked 200 men and women about their past, and predicted, financial management. I was fascinated by the subtle, yet important, differences in men’s and women’s financial resolutions. Women were very keen to get a better a grip on their finances in 2010, while men were set on making as much money as they can.
The majority of men said they would be focusing on maximising income, with almost three quarters of them concentrating on making more money in 2010. Although roughly half the women surveyed said making money also mattered, many more of them said taking charge of their finances was their uppermost goal for the coming year. Here are the top resolutions revealed by the survey:
Women’s top 5 money resolutions for 2010:
- Take charge of my finances more (66%)
- Get better value for money (63%)
- Plan my financial future (62%)
- Be more responsible with money (59%)
- Plan how to make more money (56%)
Men’s top 5 money resolutions for 2010:
- Plan how to make more money (73%)
- Plan my financial future (70%)
- Get better value for money (70%)
- Take charge of my finances more (56%)
- Cut back on my personal spending (52%)
When we think about how good we are with money, it’s often our past money blunders that spring to mind. The time we blew a windfall on a fancy car, instead of paying off some debt. The money we left for too long in a poor investment fund. The years we delayed starting a pension fund. When the economic climate is reasonably healthy, our finances can withstand those kinds of knocks a little better. It’s when times gets tough that we are hit with the folly of our past behaviour. And of course, money we waste without thinking during prosperous times becomes a drain during leaner periods.
Not switching a mortgage to a lower interest rate, for example, could cost thousands of pounds over the mortgage term. Even that daily cappuccino and newspaper adds up to hundreds a year. I have also found that one person in every three will have a direct debit going out of their bank account that they should cancel, a magazine subscription they’d forgotten about, a gym membership they never use or a charity donation they thought was a one-off that’s been taken every year since 1989!
When I asked men and women in my survey about their past money mistakes, it was clear that women’s big mistake was not being as upfront as men about asking for money. Whether it was pushing the boss for a pay rise or negotiating better self-employed rates, many women had less because of a fear of asking for money or undervaluing what they had to offer.
In looking at the differences between men and women’s spending behaviour, I have found that women engage in more emotional spending. For many women that usually means they hit the shops when feeling depressed, unhappy or stressed. Women were also more likely to name kids’ treats as one of their money weaknesses. This is another example of how, when it comes to money, women aren’t so good at putting themselves first. After all, women are socialised to take care of others and pushiness is not a quality that’s encouraged in girls, but it’s clear that later on in life this can leave them poorer. This is something I try to address in Sheconomics and is highlighted by the following stats from the survey:
Women (and men’s) most common past money mistakes:
- Emotional spending 70% (men 61%)
- Reckless spending 64% (men 39%)
- Reluctance to ask for money 62% (men 47%)
- Spending on kids/dependents 46% (men 30%)
- Fear of money 44% (men 48%)