Because they work, a majority of French women have gained their financial independence. Better, they have become the real managers of the family budget. A revolution that everyone – and all – do not always live easily.

The thing is heard: women are incorrigible dilapidatrices. Croqueuses of fortunes, torpilleuses of bank accounts. Common sense has led to popular proverbs miles on their own pecuniary attendance, and literature teems with seductive courtesans and venal, greedy and wasteful wives. “To get money, nothing more than a clever woman,” claimed Aristophanes. “Success, for a man is to be able to spend more money than his wife was unable to spend,” squeaked Guitry few centuries later. “Women are only articulated genitalia and endowed with the faculty to spend all the money we have,” belched Faulkner. Blame the Nana, Odette, Marguerite Gautier, emptying the scholarships of these gentlemen in every sense of the term.

All these women slamming or why “they” claquent.La diatribe is unfair. Women have long given their dowries, when the men offered them a name. How could they spend money they did not? Today, for the first time in history, women behave like men and conquered the freedom to dispose freely of the fruit of their labor. In two generations, they are freed from male guardianship and play now – almost – on par with them. Nearly 80% of French women aged 25 to 49 years work, and 45% of jobs are held by women. In short, they have money. What do they do? What do they say? Are they as ambivalent with the money they are the face of power, they want while defying? The men take advantage of the situation: Although most graduates, women earn on average 20% less than men in the private sector – 32% for managers.

Yet, men (58%) still believe that women are spendthrifts. While the finding, moreover, far-sighted, according to a survey by the Observatory Savings on “Women, men and money”, released in December 2002. Eternal dichotomy of male fantasy, which oscillates between the ideal of the mother and the fascination with the whore? In Money Matters, edited by Jean-Philippe and Véronique Bouilloud Guienne (Desclée de Brouwer), the social psychology professor Jacqueline Barus-Michel advance a Freudian explanation about the “liquidity” of money: “The woman is both hemorrhagic – by her period – and nourishing – when she breastfeeds. He lends the same money for duality: on one side, she squanders, on the other, she gives generously. ” Paradoxically, women themselves admit their ambiguity, the same study. Homemakers, ordonnatrices large budget, they can slam 150 euros in ten minutes the day of the opening balances.

Flora, 26, is an enigma to those around her. This young illustrator with a strong character and smooth blond goes for a singeing inveterate capable of getting into the red for a pair of boots. “Wrong! Replica does end with a smile. I buy a lot, but I run the discount stores, specials, factory outlets. I feel an absolute pleasure to pay 80 euros a trick that was worth some 400 weeks earlier. I can spend three days on the Internet to dig up a ticket at a discount. ” Nothing disorderly in his conduct: “The thought of being discovered is unbearable. For example, I really want a skirt that costs 32 euros. Well, I do not buy it, because that it is just 30 euros on my account. “

Spending all, but not a penny too: Flora, with excess boxes, embodies the “bicéphalie” women today. Each has its way of using his money. A common feature unites them: they claim their independence. For thirty years, they have demolished one by one the barriers that separated them from financial independence. Couple, they contribute to 40% of household income and contribute to 42% in expenses. 44% of individual investors are women. Three quarters of them claiming responsibility either personal or shared with a spouse on all financial decisions. And they stand as real household managers: 61% say they decide only in current expenditure, 51% said monitor current account and fill only 39% reporting household taxes – people do not always confirm, claiming that they share most of these tasks.
Without the consent of husband

What seems obvious now was not yesterday. Far from it. Until 1907 the husbands received payment from their salary and wife can dispose as they please within the marriage under the community. In 1942, women are allowed to open a bank account, but must wait until 1965 to do so without seeking the consent of their husbands. Moreover, they can now manage their own property. In 1966, they won the right to exercise a professional activity without the permission of their husbands. In 1983, they shall endorse their first initials on the tax return to the home next to the signature of their spouse. And from 1985 (!) Are empowered to manage the couple’s property equally with their partner, that is to say, to borrow freely gageant commons. Jeanne, 83, measure the distance traveled. A little bitter, this elegant and Lyonnaise right regrets: “For me, it came too late, she notes. At the birth of our second child, my husband wanted me to stay at home, even if its conditions allowed us to pay for the services of a nurse. I was a medical secretary, I loved my work. It was heartbreaking. All my life I have suffered the humiliation of having to claim money for the home , to see him peel the tickets supermarket, having to justify any Purchasing Department a little frivolous. It was without malice. He was neither stingy nor suspicious. But he was the man, and I was his wife . ” When he died, Joan admits he just “let off steam”, is offering no frills other than the satisfaction of interest to pay.

“There is a real difference in attitudes between women over 70 years and younger, says Claude Tourdjman, head of studies and trend analysis of the Savings Bank, who led the survey on” Women, men and money. “In less than 70 years, even those that did not work consider normal, natural and obvious to share money management, choice and responsibility for expenditure.”

This is not Yvette who say otherwise. This energetic septuagenarian Auby (North), who was secretary before staying home to raise her three children, took care of the family accounts until her husband retired engineer. “When I got married in 1959, I insisted that my partner opens an account on which would be paid family allowances for children, to manage the daily and the extras, welcomes does. C is very unpleasant to have to ask for money to buy a dress, for example. ” Historically, Yvette keeps his backyard: the stock market investments. “I love it! Fun does. I even negotiated with my bank can do without the signature of my husband on operations.”

An exception, if one believes the investigation of the Savings Bank: “Women have a higher risk aversion than men, notes Claude Tourdjman. This may be related to the difference in pay, which gives them less flexibility to invest their money. They also have no reluctance in principle if properly advised. ” But the motivations of women who play the stock market are not the same as those of men: “So they are looking for risky investments and they are a source of value for themselves and their competence, as well as luxury consumption – how to choose a good wine, enjoy a good cigar, roll in a nice car – they cultivate the play, the challenge. “

Play to flame, very little for them. According to Hubert Benhamou, CEO of casino group Partouche, leader in France and Europe, women represent the majority – 55% – of the customer slots: “They are ladies of a certain age, which bet small amounts, he says. Many single women, often widows, for which the casino is an output, as well as the theater or cinema. They go to the hairdresser, they dress, they pomponnent to spend the afternoon here. With 30 euros, they play for two or three hours. They do not come to make a fortune. ” Maud either. At 26, the management consultant of Aix-en-Provence loves to have fun at the casino, three or four times a year: “This is a disaster! She admits. But I’m not trying to get my bet Initially, just have fun. “

Money for money, they say they do not care. And that’s probably true. According to the study of the Savings Bank, they are only 11% (and only 3% among women of high socio-professional level) to consider that making money is “what matters most” in the existence, against 16% of men. Their top priorities in life are more children – 53% – independence – 46% – and torque – 35%. “Thriving in the work” only wins 14% of female votes (and much more in men: 15%). Moreover, over half of them (60%) say work to be autonomous, and only 16% claiming a desire for professional success – against one third of men. These figures explain in part the “glass ceiling” that separates the high duty of management, trustees for males: only 15.5% of companies with more than 10 employees are headed by women – 8% for companies more than 50 employees – and 24% of management positions are held by women (19% a decade ago). In 2001, there were only 5.33% women in decision-making bodies – seats CEOs, CEO, board members of, the directors … – The top 200 French companies. Less ambitious, less desperate to succeed in their work, as they prefer to succeed in life?
Need for financial security

Women do most of the money a criterion of seduction. Few of them feel valued by the financial strength of a companion more fortunate. Instead, Pauline, 28, feels some discomfort to see her future husband, trader, earning much more money than she: “He can afford the beautiful costumes, the best restaurants, travel gorgeous, and I do not, admit that aggregate saving, which teaches college. It does not bother to invite me, quite the contrary. But I find it hard to enjoy the money that is not mine . ” Pauline tries to reason: “You have to, because after our wedding, we will do joint account. I wonder if I would prefer that he earns less money, and we must be on an equal footing . ” In a generation apart, Marie-Elisabeth, 59, does not hide his discomfort: at 40, she gave up her successful career as a commercial for a large pharmaceutical lab, to enjoy his children and to achieve his childhood dream: to train as an interior designer. But this change of life was accompanied by a drop in his salary: “Salary is a form of social recognition, evaluation of what we can make to society, she believes . The decrease in my income has transformed the way I spend, even if I can have money from my husband. It’s not mine. And it is difficult to fund a personal project with money from the family. “

“Women rely on themselves to meet their needs, says the sociologist Jean-Claude Kaufmann [Woman and only Prince Charming, Pocket]. From a man they want it to be rather handsome, sensitive, attentive. .. ” They say. In reality, the idea that their companion pocketed less money they disturbed a bit. According to the survey of the Savings Bank, 86% of men earning more than their wives say they would not be embarrassed if the situation is reversed. Moreover, a man in 3 – and 1 part of 2 – would not be unhappy to be borne by his wife. But 42% of women earn less than their partner believe that such a reversal “would not be obvious.” As for those (5%) that are actually in that situation, they are 30% to find the “embarrassing”.

“Women are struggling to make a cross on the contributions of traditional men, decodes Jean-Claude Kaufmann. While this may seem macho, a” real man “must provide financial security. Especially since the labor market remains unequal . ” A fact which, according to sociologist, also arranges men, delighted to share – unconsciously – against a cash contribution that provides services to domestic order … “It’s very comfortable,” admits Kaufmann.

Past few exceptions, women had a budget allocated by the husband for current expenses, they managed as they please. Ah! Monday the small envelope, placed on the kitchen table … Now every decision is made jointly or by themselves. In the professional world, they have gradually invested the money business: according to statistics from the French association of financial firms, 42% of managers of its 500 member companies (23,000 employees) are women (21% in 1983 ). In 2001, they constituted 53% of employees of banks (two thirds of managers are male), from the French Banking Federation. In fifteen years, the proportion of businesses started by women increased from 18 to 30%.

In Justine, editor, and Matthew, photographer, the accounts are kept by the young woman: “I have everything taken care of, not because it amuses me or flatter myself, but because someone has gets stuck, she says. He’s allergic to paperwork, invoices, at the very idea of ​​management. I filled our two tax returns, I send the leaves of disease. ” Justine regularly casts an eye on the sales of their two separate accounts, to ensure they have not turned red. It was she who uses the checkbook of Matthew: “I use mine or his – I imitate his signature! – To pay bills, rent, taxes.” Everyone will find: “When I accompanied him to his bank, I do feel Gemini Cricket, to whisper the answers to the cashier. It’s a little weird, but we never quarrel, and even less money for stories. “
Families first

According to Claude Tourdjman, women feel really given responsibility for managing the budget: “They express both their difficulty and satisfaction to do, he notes. Unlike men, who do not care, some of them say they feel pleasure in seeing their savings grow, succeed to reconcile everything. They have feelings of victory, freedom, mastery and claim this, even if they say “it takes them head.” This also allows them to stop feeling guilty face some purchases a few futile … ” Indeed, they are 67% – 50% of men – to prefer a series of small purchases to one big happy, the survey of the Savings Bank. And a study Credoc reveals that, if their income were to increase, they would be 61% to take advantage of this windfall their clothing budget – 576 euros per year on average – 48% for men (365 euros).

Jean-Claude Kaufmann points out: “This is the woman who has family in mind, so she paid attention. It can be wasteful as an individual, while being efficient as the linchpin of the family. Faced with this ideologist the relaxation is man, it remains the guardian of the risks. ” The same goes for Claude Tourdjman: “The serenity of men vis-à-vis this reversal also shows that money is not as strategic as this for them.” Women criticize their immaturity and their carelessness, their large purchases “reckless”, their favorite heart to a stereo, TV or computer, as they say so exasperated by their they to accumulate small expenses – clothes, makeup, items for children. However, the purchase of the car is now the subject of a negotiation between equals. And 40% of cars are now paid by women.

This takeover of the sinews of war was accompanied by an overwhelming increase in the number of divorces. “Before, the woman disappeared into the marriage, says Jean-Claude Kaufmann. It passed directly from parent to her husband, without having had time to be an autonomous individual. Now emancipated, she does not want anything or anyone as a husband and family. ” In over 80% of cases, it is the wife seeking divorce, despite the precarious social and financial means to her that this change of state. “For him, personal happiness comes before the creature comforts,” says the sociologist. Clotilde, 29, a communications officer, pregnant with her second child, admits bluntly put money aside to return in times of hardship: “Anything can happen. Must be able to take the children alone. So I am a little ant. “
Means of compensating

It also happens that the ratio of women to money gone awry. Thus, the most indebted households are single parent families, single women with their children. Sylviane and Carine, counselors home economics to family allowance fund eighteenth arrondissement of Paris, trying to prevent these problems: “These women often have a complex relationship with money, they observe. They have a very rough idea of ​​what they have and spend. They want what is best for their children, the latest Nike for example. This is a factor of integration, as well as a means of compensate for the absence of the father. ” Most would be able to get by, provided to escape the downward spiral of easy temptations: “They multiply the consumer credit, spending lavishly on household equipment, video equipment, clothing. As this woman who had bought a computer for his children, when nobody knew how to use. It was also a means of social recognition. “

For some, the excitement turned to pathology. Monique knows this: it is a “compulsive spender”. At 39, this optician divorced mother of a 14 years old, lives on a tightrope. Depressed, she is capable of snapping two months’ salary in one afternoon of shopping denies that the five will grab handbags major brands, many pairs of shoes, jewelry, sunglasses … So many useless things that will give him want to vomit as soon as she has brought her home. “9 out of 10, the compulsive buyer is a woman, described the psychiatrist Lejoyeux Michel, co-author with Jean Adès purchases of Fever (The troublemakers think in circles). It is a form of depression, and there are more of depressed women than men. It sounds like bulimia: Instead of eating to fill, we buy to fill a void. “
Humanitarian purchases

At the other extreme, the stingy. Those who do not let go. The writer Catherine Cusset admit this shameful propensity in a funny and shameless book, Confessions of a cheapskate (Gallimard), published in early January. She did not hide anything from her avaricious turpitude and his preference for gifts on the cheap: once chapardeuse without panache, his vocation was defeated by net fear of being caught rather than the guilt of taking from others. Others have bouts of parsimony variable geometry. Emmanuelle, 32, blushed: “While I can spend without limits for myself, I am much more reasonable when it comes to other …” Micheline, 57, ensures they have never bought a box of sugar in his life: “Every time I take a coffee in a bar, I put sugar in my pocket to take home with me.” Yet this old commercial, always prim, does not hesitate to get in the larger hotels and restaurants where the best hand at the weekend.

Nevertheless, women are more susceptible than men to humanitarian causes: products “engaged” – fair trade, environmental safeguards, ethical manufacturing … – Seduce them much more than these gentlemen. A study by the INSEE, 58% are to say “encouraged” to this type of purchase, against 41% of men. No doubt they feel more connected they identify themselves more easily to the left to their own devices. Yet 70% of the world’s poor are women. Only 1% of global wealth owned by women. And there is no country in the world where women’s wages is really equal to men.

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