‘Women nearly twice as likely as men to manage household budgeting’

A new study shows women are still taking the responsibility for the bulk of everyday spending decisions in their households.



Women living in couples with a male partner are almost twice as likely as men to take charge of household budgeting and more likely to suffer from ‘spending guilt’, according to a new report.

The survey of over 500 couples from the Fawcett Society and Starling Bank found two in five (38%) women living with a male partner reported taking charge of most household spending decisions, versus nearly three in 10 men (28%).

Approximately half of the women surveyed (49%) said they primarily make the decisions on groceries, compared to just 14% of men and even more women (56%) say they make the decisions on everyday household products all or most of the time, such as toilet paper and bin bags. Additionally, 50% of women with children reported taking the lead on choosing childcare, compared to 14% of men with children, and nearly six in 10 (58%) women primarily make the decisions on which presents to buy for friends and family, compared to only 8% of men.

Women in couples were almost twice as likely as men (37% vs 21%) to feel guilty when purchasing something for themselves. The findings echo research conducted as part of Starling’s Make Money Equal campaign, which looked at the way that the media talks to women and found that 65% of articles define women as excessive spenders, advising them to limit shopping ‘splurges’, save small sums or depend on financial support.

On larger financial decisions, such as booking a holiday or finding a mortgage, the research shows that two thirds (67%) of both women and men say they make these together. In the past, men have predominantly led these bigger spending decisions.

The report also highlighted a generational difference in how couples manage their money. It found that 40% of men and women aged between 18-34 prioritise financial independence over sharing money with their partner, compared to just 18% and 28% respectively for those aged over 35. Older couples are far more like to have a joint account than younger couples.

Anne Boden, Chief Executive of Starling Bank, said: “Equality in household financial decision making remains an issue. Whilst it’s good to see more women prioritising financial independence and having an equal say when it comes to big expenditures, we’re concerned that women continue to take on the burden of responsibility for the ‘traditional’ tasks of budgeting and decision-making for everyday household items.

“We understand financial decision-making is complex and unique to each household, and that the recent coronavirus crisis may well impact these findings, however, we believe the responsibility of financial admin should be spread as equally as possible. We hope these findings encourage policy makers to urgently review existing policies that perpetuate current trends.”

To improve equality at home, the Fawcett Society is calling for default flexible working to make all jobs flexible unless there is a business reason for them not to be, longer, better paid paternity leave,  a carers’ credit towards workplace pensions and investment in better financial education for women and men throughout their lives to build their financial resilience and safeguard against financial insecurity in the future.


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