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Women controlling family finances

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While men continue to be the primary income earners in almost three-quarters of families, research from Norwich and Peterborough Building Society (N&P) has revealed that women appear to take the lead in family finances.

Of the 16 categories tracked by the research, families said that decisions to spend money on 13 of these were more often made jointly. The decisions most likely to be made on a joint basis were major outlays such as the cost of moving house (85% of respondents), holidays (78%) and family treats like days out (67%).

For more child-focused spending, it seems it’s the women who tend to make the majority of decisions. The three categories where this was the case were deciding how to spend money on food and general supermarket shopping (59%), clothing and footwear (71%) and spending for holidays such as Christmas (59%).

If the family financial decisions were not made jointly, women took the lead in 13 of the 16 categories, choosing how the budget was spent on expenses such as garden plants and accessories (32%), decorating and furnishings (32%), pets (27%) and children’s pocket money (30%).

Somewhat stereotypically, in the absence of joint decision-making, men chose how the family would spend their income on electrical goods (29%), cars (32%) and DIY (36%).

Gary Lacey, group product manager at N&P, said: “Although men are generally the main income earners in a family, it is fascinating to see that most financial decisions are actually made jointly by both the mother and the father. Indeed, this puts the myth of the father as the financial head of the family to rest.

“In addition, while men rarely appear to have the final say so in matters of finance, women often step up to make the day-to-day decisions with regards to spending on their homes and children. This may be due to the fact that they are the main caregivers or – possibly – because mother often knows best.”


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