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Canadian women aren’t shopping bag princesses

A study released a few weeks ago challenges the stereotype of the shopping bag princess. Called Financial Lives of Girls and Women, it shows that in fact women – not men – hold the purse strings: 89% say that the final decision about how to spend household money rests with them.

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When I was growing up, my mother was single and self-employed so finance has always been an all-female thing for me. Mum was in charge of earning, spending and saving our family budget – and for the most part it worked out, although things were pretty tight sometimes.

Which is why some images of women as hopeless spenders toting shopping bags and debt around with them all the time (think Sex and the City) have always struck me as pretty reductive. Sure, consumer debt among women is a huge problem, but it’s not the whole picture. 

A study released a few weeks ago challenges the stereotype of the shopping bag princess. Called Financial Lives of Girls and Women, it shows that in fact women – not men – hold the purse strings: 89 percent say that the final decision about how to spend household money rests with them. And a further 63 percent are confident about their financial planning and investment abilities. They’re also the ones teaching their kids about money – 83 percent have taken steps to make their kids money smart. 

What women don’t have is a plan – nearly three-quarters admit they have no financial plan. And that’s important considering we need to do more with less according to Statistics Canada who say women earn on average $30,100 a year versus $47,000 for the average man. Of course that is changing — our salaries have been increasing at twice the pace they are for men (it’s about time!). 

Clearly we are doing a lot more with a lot less – and finally gaining ground to boot.