Ever noticed how, come the end of the month, your man mates always have more
than enough cash for pre-pay-day nights out, or an online splurge on their
favourite gadget site?
Meanwhile, you’re living off beans on toast, can’t afford your bus fare and
are hunting for change down the back of the sofa to pay for a lottery
You know they earn roughly the same as you, and have the same basic outgoings,
yet they’ve always got more money than you. Why?
Unfortunately, the truth is that when it comes to money management, savvy we
are not. And in the spending stakes, we throw caution to the wind and leave
the boys in the (finanially sensible) shade.
According to Donna Dawson, a psychologist who specialises in personality and
behaviour, women are programmed to splash the cash.
“Women have always been the bigger spenders throughout history. This is
because we’ve had to depend on our looks more than men have, and all that
self-maintenance costs us serious money,” she says.
“For years we wanted to look good to get a man’s attention, but now it’s
become just as important to our careers in terms of feeling confident and
making a good impression.
“Plus, women are impulse and emotional shoppers. We spend to cheer ourselves
up and we’re more likely to be attracted by bargains and ‘2 for 1’ deals,
believing we’re getting a good deal, when often we’re actually not.”
Of course, there are some necessary expenses us women incur that men don’t
need to worry about. Make-up, sanitary products, tights… the list’s almost
Although the pay gap can widen greatly as we get older due to, for example,
women working part-time after having children, before the age of 30 the
difference between men and women’s salaries is only one per cent in their
favour, so it’s not as though men have a tremendous amount extra to burn.
So how bad are our spending habits compared to men? We asked readers Hayley
Morris, 23, and Joe Tong, 24, to put it to the test. Both are estate agents
earning £30,000 a year.
Each pays the same amount of rent for their house shares in south-east London
and both are single. Yet every month Joe is more than £350 better off – and
on top of that even manages to squirrel away £250 in savings, while Hayley
We asked them both to keep a spending diary to reveal just where their money
“Shopping is one of my favourite pastimes, but I’ve worked out I’m spending
nearly half of my monthly income – almost £1,000 – on clothes and make-up.
To me, they are necessary expenses. In my job, I meet and greet people and
have to look smart. Plus I want to look good.
But I’ve been kidding myself about the extent of my spending, probably because
I mainly shop in stores like Primark and H&M.
I buy more than I need, lured by the low prices, and I’m impulsive: if I see
it, and I want it, I buy it there and then. I will also splurge if I’m
feeling down and need to cheer myself up. However, seeing the cost in black
and white makes me realise I need to cut back.
Each month I pay for a Weight Watchers app for my phone to help maintain my
size-10 figure, and I have a gym membership. That costs me £38.50. I also
get my hair cut and coloured every six weeks, which sets me back £95 each
time, plus my weekly sunbed sessions cost £13.99 a pop.
My socialising amounts to £150 a month. I go out at least one night every
weekend for drinks or to the cinema. Every Thursday my friends and I go to
each other’s houses for dinner.
When it comes to food, I’m a bit useless, as I buy things as and when I need
them, rather than bulk-shopping for the whole week.
I’m always a little bit in debt. I’ve had to borrow money from my parents to
cover my overdraft, which can be up to £100. I know it’s a sign I’m not
managing my money properly.
It also means I don’t have anything left to put in a savings account, although
that doesn’t concern me too much right now, as I’m only 23. There are days
when I look at my bank statements and feel depressed, but I try to brush it
off and tell myself that as I get older and start earning more things will
However, now I’ve worked out how much I spend on make-up and clothes, I’ve
realised I need to cut down. Some of that money could be going into a
savings account for my future.”
MONTHLY SALARY £2000.00
Rent & bills £725.05
Beauty care £466.47
TOTAL = £2238.16
“I started my job four years ago and started saving immediately. My parents
brought me up to realise how important it is to have some money put aside.
It isn’t always as much as £250 a month, but so far I’ve been able to save
around £2,000. It’s important to me to be financially secure. I think it’s
tied up with personal pride and never wanting to have to rely on someone
else for money.
Appearance is important to me, but I’m no metrosexual! I’m not keen on
shopping. I have three suits for work, which I mix and match with different
I try to go to the gym at least three times a week and pay £38.50 for my
monthly membership. This month, I spent £77.66 on grooming, but it was to
stock up on deodorant, aftershave and shaving gel. I normally spend that
only every three months or so.
In the past four weeks I’ve had three dates. I usually meet girls for a coffee
or take them to the cinema, rather than out for expensive dinners. I often
know within 10 minutes whether we’ll click or not, so I don’t want to waste
a lot of money if it’s not going to be a good evening. I’d only splash out
on a first date if I really liked the girl.
What struck me most was the amount I spend on alcohol and food. It isn’t
break-the-bank stuff, but it is over £300 a month.
I could be more careful with the snacks and lunches I buy during the week. I
can spend £10 just on chocolate and cakes in one day at least once every
The experiment has taught me what I need to cut back on but has also shown me
that I’m not completely useless with my money. I’m pleased with that.
I know that not all my mates are as sensible as I am, so I can only put it
down to my parents teaching me early on that life isn’t all about credit and
MONTHLY SALARY £2000.00
Rent & bills £700.43
Beauty care £77.66
TOTAL = £1631.48 + £250 SAVINGS = £1881.48
JOE SPENDS £356.68 LESS THAN HAYLEY
If you can relate to Hayley’s spending habits, financial expert Jasmine
Birtles offers this advice to help you manage your money…
Keep a spending diary for a month This way you’ll really see where your
money goes. When you realise you spend nearly £50 a month on coffee alone,
you’ll soon want to cut it out. Plus psychologically, you’ll feel
embarrassed writing down for the third time in a fortnight you’re having
cake with friends, and that will help your waistline too!
Be bold with your money Savings are fine in the short term, but women
need to be braver if they want their money to work for them. Consider
investing in property, stocks and shares, and pensions. These methods can
all beat inflation, savings accounts don’t.
Do your research Once a month, spend some time reading up about money
issues. Financial websites, newspapers and magazines are full of useful
information from the best credit cards to savings accounts. Armed with this
info you can make good decisions to help manage your money better.
Pay off expensive debts before saving anything If you owe money on a
credit card or loan, pay it as soon as you can – don’t bother saving if
you’ve got huge interest levels owing and hanging over your head. As far as
I’m concerned until you do that, you don’t get to have a life. Otherwise you
will just be creating a long-term debt that will eat away at your finances.
- For more advice from Jasmine visit Moneymagpie.com.
PHOTOGRAPHY: LIZ GRESS HAIR AND MAKE-UP: SABINE CHAMMAS STYLING: RACQUEL