Thrifty living: Why the spending female is deadlier than the male

Click to follow
The Independent Online

do women and men spend money in different ways? On the face of it, not really; Mr Millard and I are locked into the same financial handcuffs of childcare and mortgage. Yet sometimes I feel I have more pressure on my bank account. He doesn't have the temptations of shoes, dresses or haircuts to resist. His haircuts cost £8. He never has more than four pairs of shoes. He doesn't feel the need to buy scented candles. Ever.

Whereas, being a modern woman, (I mean, a fully rounded, civilised adult female with a decent salary yet a rather slack attitude to one's bank account), one suffers from regular urges to splash out on scented candles, flowers, knitwear and sexy hair-conditioner. Shoes are obviously a permanent shopping option; they never let you down, no matter how much weight you have put on.

We like shopping. And we love shopping for brands. We invest emotional space in them, and enjoy having them around, almost as if they were dwarf children. Marketing people know this.

And yet, we are somewhat smarter than men when it comes to investments; survey after survey suggests that women are better at outperforming the market, as we go less for "faddy" stocks such as mining, oil and gas, but favour leisure, food and drink and utility firms, which are less risky.

Now, an independent financial adviser, Anna Sofat, has decided to set up a web-based "life and wealth management proposition" for high net worth women. Addidi, a wealth management service for women, launches the site on Tuesday ( www.addidi.com). Thanks to the power of Save and Spend, Addidi asked me to write a piece for them on "women and wealth".

When I got over the shock of being contacted by a "high net worth" outfit in all seriousness, I began to think about the way women spend money, and to consider whether our relationship with it is more do to with gender than how much cash we have. Is the femininity of the spender more important than how much is being spent? I rather think it may be.

I recently discovered that our lovely nanny owns upwards of 500 handbags, most of which are at her home in Slovakia (thank the Lord). Now, while she is not badly paid, she probably does not have the same disposable income as, say, Victoria Beckham. However, they might have more or less the same number of bags. Victoria's may include items made by Louis Vuitton, while my nanny's might be plastic copies, but both share a delight in handbag sourcing, buying and hoarding.

According to the people at Addidi, pleasure is very much part of the story. It seems we really do enjoy spending money more than our brothers do. One of Ms Sofat's ambitions is to advise wealthy women on how to spend money "as a facilitator for a life of greater delight". Wealthy women want to feel good in their mink coats, as well as rich. Cold investing in shares, bonds and gilts is not for them, apparently; they're more turned on by pushing cash at things like fine art, charity or something that can be accessorised with big cushions and scented candles. A cliché? Maybe, but the statistics show that property investment is not exclusively male. London estate agencies suggest that half of their buy-to-let landlords are female.

So where does this leave us ordinary, non-high net worth women? Is it possible for us, too, to get advice on spending and organising our finances, while not forgetting that vital "emphasis on personal happiness"?

Well, without being too fundamental about it, I would say that financial well-being comes from being in control. From not allowing your bank account to operate like one of Daniel Day-Lewis's oil spurts in There Will Be Blood, in other words. I don't know about you, but that makes me feel contented. Yes, shopping is fun, but you have to be able to walk away from Selfridges without falling victim to the temptation to buy more clothes. Keeping to lists. Not falling back on takeaways. Not falling into cabs. Walking home, using the library, using my gym (rather than squandering the membership), reading to the children (rather than taking them to the cinema), making cakes instead of buying them. All these things are pleasurable. Do we need a bespoke website to point us to them? No, but then maybe high net worth women are slightly less resourceful than we are.

Looking for credit card or current account deals? Search here

Comments