Lloyds Bank

‘Money mummies’ are taking control of the family purse strings

28 September 2012

  • In younger households (aged under 45) the balance of financial power has already tipped over to women, creating a new generation of ‘money mummies’
  • Across all age groups, the UK’s women are set to gain the overall ‘balance of power’ as early as 2020
  • Nine out of 10 UK households have at least one member of the family who engages in active financial planning
  • The rising trend in financial planning has lead to an increase in switching, with almost two thirds of UK adults moving their money to get a better rate of interest

In the UK, we are seeing the emergence of a new generation of ‘money mummies’, with younger women now broadly holding the balance of power when it comes to managing household finances, according to the latest findings from the Lloyds TSB Family Savings Report.

In particular, among couples aged under 45:

  • For the first time, women are taking charge of the majority (52%) of choices of financial provider, of long-term planning activity (52%), as well as continuing to handle most of the everyday financial management such as bill payments (54%).
  • At the same time, younger couples are splitting financial research and information-gathering exactly 50-50.
  • But modern ‘money mummies’ aren’t making a big show of it – in couples aged 25-44, men are still doing most of one activity – and that is giving out financial advice to others.

However, for couples who are aged over 45, men still hold sway in financial matters, albeit narrowly. This means that overall equality in financial decision-making for women in the UK is still around a decade away. In fact, on the basis of this evidence and previous research in this area, it is forecasted that women will gain the overall ‘balance of power’ in all UK households’ financial decisions by the year 2020.

The research also suggests that there is an association between female control of household financial planning and significantly higher rates of saving. Nine out of ten (91%) of households, where women are in charge of the long-term financial planning, have some money put by, whereas in households where the man takes on this responsibility, it is only four in five (82%) that save. (In households where neither partner plans, only half (56%) have savings).

International comparisons of these results show that younger German women are leading the way – with around 56-58% controlling financial activity among younger couples. However, in China, the picture is much more mixed. While older generations of women have more financial power than their European counterparts, there is no clear trend toward rising female financial power in the Chinese age groups. On some measures, men are actually more powerful among younger couples than older couples.

A professional approach to financial planning…
Before the recession, just over half (56%) of UK adults would say that they carefully budgeted their personal finances each month. However, this figure rose to seven in 10 (70%) in 2012, indicating that the squeeze on spending power has led to more widespread financial planning.

In fact, this latest Lloyds TSB Family Savings research indicates that more than nine in 10 (94%) UK households have at least one member of the family taking control of the family’s financial planning. What’s more, at least four out of five households (85%) seek professional advice or use online tools, for example comparison websites or budgeting tools like Lloyds TSB’s Money Manager with Savings Goals, to make the most of their money.

…Leading to higher levels of switching
This more professional approach to managing the family’s budget and long-term finances is leading to a pro-active approach to switching. In the UK, almost two thirds of adults say they switch banks to obtain a better interest rate. In addition, between 2007 and 2012, the proportion of UK adults who do any part of their banking activity online rose from 28% to 41%. Over the same period, the proportion using online price comparison sites rose from 39% to 53%.

Out of the countries surveyed, China is definitely the most pro-active, especially when it comes to switching, with four out of five Chinese respondents (82%) having switched providers to get better rates. Surprisingly, just over half of Germans (54%) have done the same.

Greg Coughlan, Head of Savings at Lloyds TSB, comments:
“Younger women have definitely taken a firm grip on the purse strings, moving from the traditional role of managing the day-to-day spending, to planning and selecting where money is kept. This rise of a money matriarchy marks not just a shift in the balance of power in families but may have more positive impacts for the future economy.

“Female control of the family purse strings is likely to give rise to an increase in households' savings, as women tend to be more cautious savers in terms of the vehicles they save in, and have a longer-term orientation to saving. This in turn means that mortgage repayments and consumer spending could become less vulnerable to turmoil in employment or financial markets in future".

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