IT’S a chicken-or-egg question. Do our woman readers read Personal Finance because they are financially savvy, or are they financially savvy because they read Personal Finance?

Whatever the answer, a recent survey of our woman readers has found that they’re very good at managing their money, including controlling their spending, saving what they can, keeping their debt levels low, planning for the future and staying well informed.

The online survey, conducted in July by Independent Media’s INsight division, questioned 150 female readers from its newspaper readership panel, of which a third (49) were single-copy readers and two-thirds (101) subscribers to the weekend newspaper in which Personal Finance is published as a supplement. 

Of the sample, 17% were from households earning less than R15 000 a month, 49% were from households earning between R15 000 and R40 000 a month, and 22% were from households whose monthly income was over R40 000 (the other 12% declined to disclose their income). A large majority (70%) said they read Personal Finance every week.


Financial planning

Most of the women surveyed (98%) have a large degree of input into the household’s monthly expenditure, either with their partners or by themselves, with only 1% saying they have little or no control over the budget, and another 1% admitting they do not have a budget. 

Nine out of 10 women surveyed followed a monthly expenditure budget, some relatively strictly (54% of the sample) and some as a guide (35%). Almost all respondents recognised the importance of a budget, which they use primarily to control and monitor expenditure with a need to avoid over-spending. 

Similarly with longer-term financial management and planning, 92% of women said they manage and plan their personal finances in collaboration with their partners or on their own, with only 8% saying they have little or no input into financial planning.

Of the total sample, 65% of the women said they have a will. There was a fairly marked difference between subscribers (76% had a will) and single-copy readers (53% had one).


Saving

The women who read Personal Finance appear to be conscientious savers, with 78% saying they save regularly or sometimes. The remainder did not save, because they said they did have the money to save (19%) or did not bother to save (3%).


Spending and using credit

More positive news is that most of the women surveyed are not running up big expenses on credit. Most (80%) buy big-ticket items, such as appliances or furniture, in cash, or use the straight option on their credit cards, with only 9% using the budget option on their credit cards or a store account. 

Regarding the use of credit cards:

• 21% do not have a credit card;

• 29% normally pay the full balance at the end of the month;

• 36% always pay the required amount at the end of the month; and

• 13% usually pay the required amount each month.


Need for information

Almost all the women surveyed agreed fully or to a certain extent that, although they believed they knew how to manage their finances, they needed to keep learning and be updated on new developments, and they appreciated new insights and guidance. A candid 21% said managing their finances was not an easy task. 

A large percentage of the respondents agreed with the statement “there are many untrustworthy sources of information about personal finance”.

When asked about the areas of finance they knew little and wanted to learn more, 46% mentioned buying shares and constructing a share portfolio. 

Other topics that featured strongly were tax (37%), investments (35%), car finance (35%), and medical schemes and health cover (32%).

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