Women have traditionally maintained tight control of their family’s day-to-day household spending, but men had taken charge of major decisions on banking and financial planning.
However, a new study suggests this is changing, with British women now more likely to manage important issues like choosing a bank and making provisions for future savings and spending.
This shift appears to be resulting in significantly higher rates of savings: 91% of households where women are in charge of long-term financial planning have some money put aside, but the figure is only 82% when men take on this responsibility.
The trend is so far most evident among younger couples, with men over 45 still tending to hold sway in money matters.
But the research suggests that a majority of women of all ages will be in charge of every household financial decision by 2020.
The survey by Lloyds TSB (LSE: LLOY.L - news) found that among couples under 45, women were more likely to choose the family’s bank or building society (52% of households), take control of making detailed future plans for savings (52%) and pay day-to-day bills and keep track of spending (54%).
The only area where younger men dominated was giving financial advice to friends and family.
Previous research indicated that men were still in control of both every day housekeeping and major financial decisions in the 1990s and early 2000s.
A recent report by Halifax discovered that women have higher savings balances than men on average and are more likely to have an ISA, but are less likely to invest in stocks and shares.
It found that men were more likely to put no money aside for a rainy day, with 37% of single men saying they had no savings compared to 30% of single women.
The new study also looked at other countries, finding similar trends in Germany, where it was the woman who managed long-term planning for savings in 53% of couples under 45.
However, in China older women were more likely than their younger counterparts to be in charge of making future financial provisions and choosing a bank.
There are signs that the ongoing financial crisis has made Britons more cautious about their money.
Before the recession, 56% of adults said they budgeted carefully every month, but the figure has now risen to 70%, the survey found.
Greg Coughlan, head of savings at Lloyds TSB, suggested that the rise of “money mummies” who are more likely to build up savings might benefit the British economy in the long term.
He said: “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.”