Given the breadth of behaviors and preferences around the world, few threads bind consumers like money. It touches all of us, has massive implications on how we live and can dramatically alter someone’s life—both for the good and the bad.
We have accounts to hold our money, exchanges to trade our money and indexes to gauge how we feel about our money. But as much as we can agree on the importance of our financial wellbeing, it’s interesting to look at the slightly different perspectives of men and women—the ones that govern how wide we’re opening our wallets and for what.
While global sentiment about personal finances and the costs of living has been trending up for about two years now, men and women aren’t exactly on the same page when it comes to what’s in their pockets. Generally speaking, women see a bright side, but men are seeing an even brighter side.
For example, more than half of men and women are positive about their personal finances in the coming year but sentiment among men is five percentage points higher than it is among women (59% and 54%, respectively).
Even though consumers around the world are generally upbeat about their finances, men and women are both slightly less comfortable about spending money on the things they need. In fact, only 36% of women say, in light of the cost of things today and their own personal finances, that now is a good time to spend, compared with 43% of men.
In addition to having different perspectives about spending proclivity, men and women have distinct priorities for their discretionary cash. For example, more women plan to spend on new clothes than men (38% women vs. 31% of men), whereas men are more likely to dash out to pick up the latest tech product (28% men vs. 18% of women). Men also have a greater tendency to invest (24% men vs. 17% women) and save for retirement (12% men vs. 8% women).
Given that women’s pockets appear to be a bit lighter than men’s, more women are adopting strategies to save on household expenses than their male counterparts. In general, more women are switching to less-expensive grocery brands, spending less on new clothes, cutting back on out-of-home entertainment and pulling back on eating out.
There are, however, some actions that both men and women are taking to save on household expenses. Common cutback areas include car usage, phone plans, energy costs and vacations.
The insights from this article were derived from the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, which was conducted Nov. 10-28, 2014. The survey polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa and North America.