Thursday, 31 December 2009

Women get a grip on money in 2010, while men get ahead

The recession has certainly made us focus more on money management, but whereas women hope to get a better a grip on their finances in 2010, men are set on making as much as they can.

Men and women differ in their financial resolutions, according to our recent research. Men will be focusing on maximising income, with almost three quarters of them concentrating on making more money in 2010.

Although roughly half the women said making money was a priority for 2010, many more of them said taking charge of their finances was their uppermost goal for the coming year. Our survey revealed:

Women’s top 3 money resolutions for 2010:

1. Take charge of my finances more (66%)

2. Get better value for money (63%)

3. Plan my financial future (62%)

Men’s top 3 money resolutions for 2010:

1. Plan how to make more money (73%)

2. Plan my financial future (70%)

3. Get better value for money (70%)

The fact that more women want to get a grip on their finances is great news. But making money shouldn't only be a male domain, so why not unleash your inner entrepreneur in twenty ten?




Wednesday, 23 December 2009





HAPPY CHRISTMAS
AND A

PROSPEROUS
AND SHECONOMICAL
NEW YEAR

FROM

SIMONNE AND KAREN


Sunday, 20 December 2009

Sheconomics for Christmas

I am typing this from my fairy grotto, twinkling lights draped around my tinselled torso humming along to carols coming from my homemade nativity scene complete with hand-crocheted baby Jesus.....
.... OK, I wish…..actually there’s not even a sprig of holly in the house and it’s too late for me to be ready early for Christmas. In fact folk everywhere are putting their brussels on now to make sure they’re well-stewed for Christmas day (the sprouts not the people)…..so I’ve got some catching up to do.
If I don’t get to the shops everyone’s getting a copy of Sheconomics for Christmas (that includes you Simonne!).


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The gift that keeps on giving?

After the Daily Mail ran a story about regifting, featuring my research, today I’ve done lots of radio interviews on this topic.
Regifting is getting more popular and many justify it because it’s green and economical.
I think we’re all passing on unwanted gifts simply because we have too much stuff.
But palming off your tat onto someone else isn’t going to solve the problem (and could lead to disappointed reactions and hurt feelings at Christmas).
My research with Ocado showed that luxury chocolates and champagne are sure winners (you can sneak them into the online grocery order too). Few people would regift those and many would be chuffed to get them.
But if we really don’t know what to buy someone why not give time, offer to cook a meal, babysit and do some gardening?
And instead of regifting those novelty socks or that hideous vase to someone else why not take it to the charity shop? I like the idea that a person might buy it as a gift for someone who then gives it to the charity shop and they sell it again...and so on...recycling with a conscience!


Sunday, 6 December 2009

Sheconomics tips for a cool yule

I wasn’t surprised to read that seven out of ten people report money as their main stressor, according to a US survey for the American Psychological Association. And the Christmas holiday is one of the most tense and taxing times for nearly half of all women.
How can you buffer yourself against seasonal stress and guarantee yourself a cool yule? Here are our Sheconomics tips:
· Invest in yourself. Put aside time for some self-pampering, long walks, old movies or a riveting novel. Don’t let other demands encroach on that precious me-time.
· Have realistic expectations. Let go of idealised notions about the festive season with you as wonder-woman in flashing reindeer ear-rings. Enlighten others about what to expect, then no-one’s disappointed.
· Focus on what matters. Know what you want from the holiday season, e.g. giving back, togetherness or reflection. Make it your holiday philosophy and don’t lose that focus.
· Stick to the budget. Set a limit on what you’ll spend on gifts and food. Scale back those sneaky extras/last-minute treats or try home-made instead.
· Rope in others. Whether it’s help with planning, shopping or cooking or the need to talk and get psychological support, don’t be afraid to ask others for hep when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Got friends who are feeling stressed about finances? A copy of Sheconomics could be the perfect gift!



Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The real COST of Christmas?

Millions of pounds are wasted at Christmas on gifts that people don't need, want or even like. US academic Joel Waldfogel a few years back calculated the 'deadweight loss' of Christmas. He asked people what they would be prepared to pay for the gifts they'd been given. On average it was only about 80% of the true cost to the buyer. The difference in value amounts to millions of wasted dollars.

In his new book Scroogenomics he asks what is the point of gift sets? How many serious golfers would buy themselves those golf-themed knick-knacks, the golf bag wine holder or golfball festooned mug with novelty golf socks? Not many, and I'm sure most dads, uncles and brothers wish they were at least 18-holes away when they open such a gift on Christmas morning.

My own research, carried out recently in association with Ocado, revealed that men are more likely than women to be disappointed with the gifts they get. But women are better at hiding it and try harder to put on a happy face.

I've also analysed the subtle nonverbal signals that leak out when someone opens a naff gift. For more on this check out the info and report on my website.


Sunday, 29 November 2009

OVERCOMING RELUCTANCE - SOME TIPS


The
AXA survey really highlighted how reluctant people are to go for financial advice. One in seven people said they'd rather go to the dentist than to a financial advisor. The tips we devised to make it easier for the most-reluctant are:

· Take the first step

Visualise your goal. Have a clear sense of where you want to be. Break down how you are going to get there into small steps. Then take one small step towards your goal today.

· Make it known

Own up to a fear or problem and share it with someone you trust. Enlist the help of a supportive buddy. Once you’ve put it out into the world there’s more chance of a solution.

· Get outside yourself

If you’re trapped by inertia and indecision, ask yourself ‘What would X do?’ Think of someone who you believe has it right financially - then put it into action.

· The law of opposites

You can trick your brain by behaving in the opposite way to how you feel. So acting as if you are the person you want to be will conquer some of the barriers you’ve been putting up.

· Reframe

Putting a different spin on problems can lead to a fresh approach. If the idea of a pension bores you, for example, reframing it as a gift to your future self could shift your mindset.


Almost two thirds of the people surveyed said they would seek help - if they could find someone they trusted.

Simonne has helped hundreds of people sort out their finances, so if you're one of the reluctant ones she may be able to help you -have a look at Wise Monkey Financial Coaching.

Or go to www.savvywoman.co.uk. This great site, run by top personal finance journalist Sarah Pennells, has a panel of experts on hand to answer your financial questions.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

What's stopping you?

I have written a report on the psychological barriers to financial management for AXA, based on a yougov survey.
The three main 'blockers' that people have come under the headings:
  • inertia (doing nothing because of fear, indecision or the status quo bias
  • ignorance (thinking things are better than they are or being baffled by jargon)
  • immediate gratification (wanting rewards now instead of being able to postpone them)
If you want to read the report, with some fascinating stats too (one in ten men would rather have a minor operation than see a financial advisor) it's downloadable from our Sheconomics site.


Friday, 27 November 2009

The buzz at Birmingham

What an amazing time I had today at the Women on their Way to Wealth conference. I had such a positive response to my keynote talk from so many women and the sheer energy in the room today was palpable. I'm sure anyone looking down from outer space would have seen Birmingham glowing!
The combined wisdom, humour, creativity and vision of 150 go-getting women is a powerful force indeed. Thanks so much to Jo and Lisa at Women on their Way for putting on a really inspiring and uplifting event.
Wise words from Johanna Waagfjord, one of Iceland's top businesswomen, were "Just say Yes", reinforcing Jo's message that women are prone to overthinking and need to just take the plunge now and again.
Talking of 'plunge' I am still smiling at Jo's slip when she mentioned that she was 'hugely breast'. She meant blessed but hey, we all know about post-natal hormones and she's a wonder.
At book-signing a few different inscriptions were requested but the best one was from one woman to her friend - "JFDI" (Just f*cking do it)!
And thanks to Deb Davies for telling all mothers to say "You're on MY bus". The perfect mantra for all mums whose kids give them the run-around.


Tuesday, 24 November 2009

My Budget Day - AXA's inspired idea

I love Axa's idea of My Budget Day, this week.
If only more of us just put aside a bit of time for financial planning, we could be a load better off.
Another brilliant idea they have is to rename pensions! If the very word 'pension' strikes fear to your soul can you come up with something better?
In Sheconomics we reckon on reframing your pension as 'a gift to your future self', but renaming is also an effective way into tricking your brain into associating it more with pleasure than pain -
what would the word be though?
To enter go to Axa's site - you could win a cash prize.


Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Simonne asks: How green is your money?

This week (8-14 November) is National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW). The idea is to raise awareness of green and ethical options for investing money and inspire us to invest in a way that will have a positive impact on society and the environment.

As a nation, we may have got into a good habit of recycling, buying fair trade products and preserving energy, but few of us are choosing to invest ethically. Half of people with savings and investments would like to make money and make a difference, yet only 8% of investors have an ethical investment or savings account (source YouGov).

To find out more about ethical choices take a look at YourEthicalMoney. This site provides independent information on what banks do with your money, allows you to easily compare green and ethical investments and helps you find an ethical financial adviser. There’s also a link to this site on the Resources page of our Sheconomics site.


Simonne



Saturday, 7 November 2009

Simonne's tip for tracking your spending

Here’s an easy way of staying in control of your money while you’re on the move.
There’s a great tool you can download on your iPhone for free - called ExpenseIT.
It allows you to keep track of spending against budgets you set for everything from food to frivolity.

We’ve had great feedback on it so far, but have a play with and let us know what you think... Simonne.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Your financial fitness regime from Simonne

I’ve just started getting into a habit of jogging most days (well – it’s only a tad faster than walking, but it’s a start!).

I’m noticing how it’s getting easier by the day and that, just by maintaining it, I’m able to stick to a level of fitness which is pretty much what I hoped I’d achieve.

It got me thinking about the similarities with getting into good money habits.

It’s just as hard getting started (all too easy to find excuses), and then keeping things up can be challenging.


But once you’ve found the right financial fitness regime I’m sure you’ll share the experience of finding it easier to maintain by the day and never having to experience the pain of getting started.

And it doesn’t have to be perfect to make it worthwhile.


So if money management is something you’re putting off, what can you do today to get started?

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Stop feeding the bin!

Here’s a quick question. How much food do you think we Brits chuck away every day?

a) Half a million tonnes

b) 1.6 million tonnes

c) 6.7 million tonnes

The shocking answer is c! And it costs the average family £420 a year. It’s like scraping eight slimy, putrifying, past-their-sell-by-date pounds into the bin every week. I blame supermarkets, who encourage people to overbuy with their constant BuyOneGetOneFree (BOGOF) offers.

And, up until now, delivered groceries have been a problem because you couldn’t be sure the produce was fresh enough to last.

But I love the fact that Ocado are tackling this. They show the use-by date on all the fresh stuff on their website. It’s also printed on your receipt so you stick it on your fridge as a guilty reminder of what to use up. Brilliant.


Sunday, 11 October 2009

It pays to start early

A big bash was held in London this week to celebrate top female fund managers. Its star was 58-year old American, Mina Gerowin, who (managing a £2 billion fund) posted positive results last year whilst many of her male counterparts racked up losses.

As delighted as I was to hear about these alpha females giving the men a run for their hedge-fund money, I was mindful of a report earlier this year showing that most women in the city still receive significantly lower salaries and smaller bonuses than men.

So how did Gerowin rise above this?

Apparently her interest in investing came when she joined her New York school’s investment club as a nine year old.

I think UK schools missed a trick there; 50 years ago the only after-school activity our schools offered was detention.

There's more on offer nowadays but I suspect not many nine-year olds are investing. Given the demise of the state pension it wouldn't be a bad idea though.

I can see Mums sending kids off to school with their dinner money in one pocket and their pension money in another before too long...


Monday, 5 October 2009

Reminder from Simonne....

Did you know that the rules for ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts) are changing tomorrow for anyone over the age of 50 (and from April 2010 for all other adults)? That means you can now pay up to £10,200 each tax year (6th April one year to 5 April the next), £5,100 of which can be in the form of cash (bank/building society accounts earning tax-free interest). If you want to compare different cash ISAs, try http://www.moneysupermarket.com/savings.


Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Simonne says....Second-hand’s not second rate

Did you hear that the car scrappage scheme has been so successful that the scheme is being extended to fund an extra 100,000 car and van purchases?
Don’t we just love it when the government gives away money!
But, if you’re tempted by this offer, just remember that the £2,000 contribution towards a new vehicle will be wiped out in depreciation after just a few short months. It’s still far better value to buy a slightly older car, especially if the new car is being paid for via expensive credit.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

More Sheconomics research

I'm doing some more research - this time into the fascinating world of behavioural economics.

The survey poses some interesting financial dilemmas and is aimed at demystifying some of the irrational behaviours we all have around money.

It only takes about 10 minutes and there's a £25 cash prize and a signed copy of Sheconomics for the person who recruits the most respondents (so fill it in and send the link to a friend).

Click Here to take survey
And I'll post the results on www.sheconomics.com so keep a lookout! Thanks.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Please, Sir, can I have some more?

Stories about sexism in the city have cropped up everywhere this week. Women, it seems, earns far less than men in the city and encounter sexual discrimination more befitting of a Victorian workhouse than the 21st century finance world.
A thought struck me. Yes, there is sexism out there but women also have to guard against another enemy – self-sabotage. If women undervalue themselves, the world will undervalue them. Many women still confess to being uncomfortable with the concept of success. And we live in a society that still sees thrift and 'making do' as a highly prized female trait.
Women, research has shown, are twice as likely as men to volunteer (it’s good to give to others but also important to value your time) and two and a half times more likely to dread asking for a salary increase.
How should the modern woman knock down the barriers set up by society and her own self-limiting beliefs? Here’s the Sheconomical way to succeed in those negotiations:
  • · Recognise your true value
  • · Make the first move (be proactive)
  • · Prepare your case
  • · Aim realistically high
  • · Don’t settle for less
More on this is our chapter on self-limiting beliefs in Sheconomics.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Pay it forward

Good to see the concept of paying it forward taking off. An innovative broadband company has, apparently, recruited ex-pickpockets to creep around London and slip fivers, tenners and twenty pound notes into people’s unguarded bags and pockets. It’s their way of helping people beat the blues caused by the recession.

Yet psychological research shows that it’ll be the ones giving away the money who get the biggest boost in their happiness.

In one study in the US, students were given $10 each, then half were told to buy themselves something and the other half to spend it one somebody else. Their happiness levels were measured before and after. The group who’d spent the money on another person were happier than those who’d spent it on themselves.

So if you want to cheer yourself up, Do Something Different and spend some money on another person.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Put it on expenses.....

I was interviewed on LBC Radio today about the case of the guy who falsely claimed half a million quid's worth of expenses from his employers. The reason he gave was that he had to fund his wife’s lavish lifestyle.


A London paper I picked up on the train today had a huge photo of the wife on the front page, while the guy’s photo was tucked away in a corner. OK, the wife might have been na├»ve, unhappy and demanding, but let’s not forget he was the one who broke the law.


As I said in my interview, financial secrets are the kiss of death to any relationship. Communication is absolutely crucial and our chapter on Financial Intimacy in Sheconomics delves further into this.


I think most of us might have stopped and asked him, on yet another one of those luxury holidays, where the money was coming from?



Thursday, 20 August 2009

Small change blindness

Here’s a quick question. If someone was serving you at a counter, disappeared for a few seconds and a different person came back and continued serving you, you’d notice right?

Wrong.

Or at least wrong for about 75% of us, who fall victim to something psychologists call Change Blindness.

How many changes in our financial world do we fail to notice?

Right before our eyes, interest rates have fallen from around 5% to 0.5%, yet have we switched provider to get the best deal around? Most current accounts now pay less than 0.1% interest whereas a year ago only about half paid such a measly amount. The banks make most of their money from existing customers who don’t bother moving their money elsewhere.

There are still some good offers around though, check them out on www. moneysupermarket.com. And remember that loyalty rarely pays in personal finance.

More about change blindness in this youtube clip.


Thursday, 6 August 2009

Women on their Way to Wealth

There’s something incredibly powerful about women working and pulling together towards aspirational goals. Pitch the sisterhood against the brotherhood and I know who my money would be on (Sister Sledge vs Brotherhood of Man? No contest!).


That’s why I’m inspired by the work of an organization called Women on Their Way (or WOW – great acronym). It’s dedicated to supporting and mobilizing women from all backgrounds to get what they want from life. So I’m thrilled to be their Keynote speaker at their special event all about women and money. It's a breakthrough day in Birmingham on November 27th 2009.


If you’re interested in joining other women who want to smash through their financial limiting beliefs, check it out here.


Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Simonne's tip for cutting your mobile bill

I just found a neat little trick to bring down the cost of your mobile phone bill. If you have to pay for picking up voicemail, try calling your mobile phone number instead. You get to pick up your messages in the normal way but it bypasses the standard voicemail function and just falls within the usual free minutes allowed on your tariff. So, if you’re like me, and don’t use all your minutes anyway, there’s no additional charge. Could be it only applies to my provider (T-mobile) but it's worth a try!

Simonne



Friday, 3 July 2009

Credit card cheques to be banned

Finally something’s been done to stop those annoying and unsolicited credit card cheques coming through your letterbox. The ones that try and tempt you to spend money you can’t afford on things you don’t need, and then pay outrageously high interest rates for the privilege. (They worked the same way as if you'd withdrawn cash on your credit card - with interest charges starting to accrue immediately).


This recent government proposal gets a thumbs up from us!


From Simonne.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

If women ran the economy

None of us women dare stick our pretty necks out and say this, naturally, but we loved Charlie Brooker's recent rant in the Guardian:
We don't need a few women in conspicuous positions of power scattered here and there - we need a 10-year prohibition on all forms of male power. Seriously: a decade in which men don't get to control anything, from the remote control upwards. Imagine the consequences. For one thing, there would be an instant and massive reduction in armed conflict around the globe. Sure, nations would routinely bitch about each other in secret (and with a new, hair-curling viciousness), but there'd be fewer intercontinental punch-ups and a far smaller bodycount. The economy should clearly be run by women. City boys are dicks, plain and simple. Look at them. Listen to them. Consider the carnage of the past 10 years. What the hell were these idiots thinking?
Bring back Charlie's Angels, there'd be a rush to sign up.


Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Baffled by pensions?

If so, Simonne's tracked down a really useful site for women in need of some clarity about pensions. Or who need help making a decision relating to a state, occupational or private pension.

The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) now has a free helpline dedicated especially to women.

TPAS is an independent non-profit organisation that provides free advice and information on the whole spectrum of pensions. You can call them on 0845 600 0806.



Sunday, 14 June 2009

Parents pay their money and take their choice....

The tug-of-war between the left (logical) and right (intuitive) sides of the brain is played out in all kinds of financial scenarios.
Take the case of the Israeli child-care centre that decided to fine parents who turned up late to collect their kids*. Before parents who were late picking up felt guilty, having inconvenienced the teachers. After the fine was introduced late pick-ups actually increased. Parents saw it as a service for which they were willing to pay.  The fine was intended as an emotional move to punish parents for lateness, it was interpreted more logically, as a means of exchange.
Clearly a larger fine was needed. That way the pain felt by the right brain would have ruled out such a logical but unintended outcome.
*Mentioned this week in Michael Sandels' first Reith lecture

Friday, 12 June 2009

The 8 most common money mistakes

Our June newsletter features the 8 most common mistakes that women make with money. These are the ones that come up time and again in our Sheconomics research and when talking to women about their money management. They are: 

  1. A misplaced sense of loyalty. Whether it’s a mortgage, bank account or mobile phone contract, women are often reluctant to switch.
  2. Fear of financial products. Liking tangible investments, such as property, over stocks and shares can mean women miss out on money-making opportunities.
 
  3. Being money martyrs. While it’s important to look after the children, it doesn’t help anyone in the long run when women constantly sacrifice their own needs for the kids.
  4. Low self-belief. Not asking for money – pay rises/fee increases/better deals – often means women don’t get what they’re entitled to.
  5. Letting shopping become an emotional habit. Shop because you need the goods, not because you need the buzz.
  6. Not managing career break finance. A career-break needn’t mean a pension break. If your partner’s salary can cover two pensions, it’ll ease the strain in later life.
  7. Allowing others to make the big financial decisions. Women are great at day-to-day budgeting but can sometimes suffer from decision paralysis when it comes to bigger financial decisions.
  8. Indulging in rescue fantasies. Don’t wait for someone to come and save you – make sure you’re ready to leap into action to rescue yourself.

 

 

Monday, 8 June 2009

Psychological bias=more credit card interest

Financial rules in the U.K. mean that credit card companies have to take a minimum payment from card-holders each month. It's meant to keep card-holders from getting into too much debt. 


Yet there's a psychological decision-making bias known as "anchoring" that operates against this. 

The compulsory minimum payment leads many card-holders to pay less off their balance than they would have done, thus costing them more in the long-run.


Researchers from Warwick University conducted a survey of 248 credit-card users and their statements and found those card-holders (36 per cent) who paid more than the minimum payment but less than the total balance, were influenced by the size of the minimum payment. The lower the minimum amount, the less they paid. It's as if knowledge of the minimum payment reduced how much they chose to pay off. 


In a further experiment hundreds of participants were given a credit-card bill with an outstanding balance of £435.76 and asked how much they could afford to pay off, given their real-life finances. Half saw a minimum repayment amount and half didn't.


Seeing a minimum payment amount didn't affect the proportion of participants who said they'd pay the balance off in full. However, of those who said they'd pay only some of the bill, the minimum payment amount had a dramatic effect on how much they said they'd pay. In real life the difference could double the ultimate amount of interest paid by the card-holder over the life of the debt.


Anchoring was first shown by Kahneman and Amos Tversky in 1974. They asked people to spin a random number wheel before estimating what proportion of United Nations countries were African. People's guesses were strongly influenced by whether the wheel landed on a high or low number, even though they knew the number had nothing to do with the question!


The researcher Neil Stewart has set up a website that helps you calculate what the total costs of a loan will be given how quickly you choose to pay off your debt.

_________________________________

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

You owe it to yourself....

In these cash-strapped times are there any guilt-free treats left? 

When asked this in a press interview recently I said treats that have a life-enhancing effect are a must. They're the ones that give a whopping quality-of-life return on investment. So out go spa-days with a short-lived feel-good factor, where the after-glow from a massage disappears as soon as you’re back at your desk or wiping the kids’ noses. 

But how about a massage for the brain?

I had the equivalent of a brain massage recently in the form of a bibliotherapy session at the School of Life. My literary horizons were well and truly stretched and I've been binge-reading ever since. I came away with a prescription for 12 books that will keep my synapses firing and zinging for years to come.  All for less than the price of a seaweed wrap. Bliss.






Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Does biology affect our earning power?

Simonne comments on the fact that full time working women are expected to earn £369,000 less than men across their whole career.

This came up in a BBC2 programme last week looking at why women earn less than men. 

If you didn’t catch the programme (or, like me, don't have a TV)  you can watch or download it from BBC iPlayer until the end of today: http://tinyurl.com/qfflsf

Their verdict was that there are lots of complex reasons for the disparity, including the fact that women are actually choosing to earn less!


 


Friday, 22 May 2009

Women and money: survey results out

The results of our research are now published and make fascinating reading. 

Check out our website for the latest on women and money.


Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Mental accounting

Funny isn’t it, how money can take on more than its face value? Most people feel justified blowing a tax refund but not money they’ve diligently saved. 

As fallible humans we're all susceptible to what behavoural enonomists call mental accounting. That's the tendency to categorise and treat money differently depending on where it comes from, where it is kept and how it is spent.

One of our readers sent in a Q&A that illustrates this problem perfectly. Having struggled with debt for years she suddenly received an inheritance when her grandmother died. She wanted to repay her debts but felt this wasn’t proper use of her grandmother’s money. See what we said here.

Money has the same value in absolute terms regardless of where it comes from. Yet, as Belsky and Gilovich point out in their book Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes, it doesn’t always feel that way.


Monday, 11 May 2009

Recovery conversations

If worrying about over-spending keeps you awake at night, here’s something else to do in the early hours of the next three Fridays.

April Benson, US author of To Buy or Not to Buy is hosting live conversations with women who’ve been serious shopaholics but have come out the other side. They take place on May 14th/21st/28th from 8.30pm EST – that’s about 1.30 a.m. the next day for us UK dwellers.

Check out April’s website www.stoppingovershopping.com for more details. 

Then please try to get a good night's sleep. Bags under the eyes are as bad as bags in the wardrobe ;o)



Thursday, 23 April 2009

Simonne sums up the budget for you

So… how have we women fared in yesterday's Budget? The good bits of news
are:

- the amount you can pay each tax year into tax-free ISAs will be increasing
from £7,200 to £10,200 a year, up to £5,100 of which can be held in cash.
- Grannies caring for their grandkids will receive credits to help them
receive a full state pension at retirement.
- No stamp duty for properties worth less than £175,000 until the end of the year 
to help first-time house buyers.
- Child trust funds up by £100 per year for disabled children and
£200 per year for severely disabled children

The hardest hit are the high earners amongst you (those earning £150,000 or
more), who will pay more income tax and get less tax relief on pension contributions. 
It doesn't come into effect immediately so there's time for a bit of planning.

For more about how the Budget will affect you have a look at the BBC's
Budget calculator: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8008685.stm

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Tell it like it is!

If you thought a hedge fund was something gardeners paid into, don’t worry, I find the language of finance pretty daft too.

No wonder a lot of us are confused and just don’t want to go there.

Why do we ‘secure’ a mortgage instead of just having one? Why say ‘capital growth’ instead of just ‘getting money’?
How can we say a debt ‘attracts’ interest? What’s attractive about it?
And surely only a man could have dreamed up ‘fiscal stimulus’ (OK, or Anne Summers). Ditto ‘quantitative easing’.

One of our lovely reviewers on Amazon said of Sheconomics,
Great to read something that isn’t full of jargon and number crunching’. We're trying to keep things that way.

In the Readers Q&A section on the website we answer readers’ questions with some straightforward talking, so don’t be afraid to pose a question there. However stupid you might think it, we bet there are loads of others who are equally befuddled……


Monday, 20 April 2009

Simonne and speculation over the end of higher rate tax relief

Any higher rate tax payers out there wanting to make a pension contribution this tax year? 

There’s speculation that the 40% tax relief on pension contributions is under threat and may be capped to the basic level of 20% after the Budget on 22 April. The change could take effect immediately and would mean that the cost of a £10,000 pension contribution would increase from £6,000 to £8,000.

It’s worth acting quickly or talking to a financial adviser if this affects you.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Simonne notes....

We’re finally saving more!

Great news! The latest report by National Savings & Investments shows that we’re all becoming more Sheconomical and building up our savings pots.

According to their report, we saved a record amount over the winter of 2008/09 period, more than any winter period recorded. That translates as an average of £201.55 a month or 6.48% of our income.
Click here to view the full survey findings.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

First study to show spending linked to menstrual cycle


Another milestone event this week was presenting my latest research to the British Psychological Society Annual Conference, in a paper 'Women's spending behaviour is menstrual cycle sensitive'.

After news coverage in the Sunday Telegraph and Daily Mail, it became the BBC news online's  most shared story and was featured on radio broadcasts worldwide.

Meanwhile here is the abstract from the BPS paper:

Fluctuations in hormones across the menstrual cycle have been shown to account for variations in a wide range of cognitive and affective responses in women. Functional MRI studies have shown that activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, responsible for inhibitory control and emotion regulation, varies across the menstrual cycle. This study demonstrates a behavioural correlate of that fluctuation. Women’s behaviour with money was found to be menstrual-cycle sensitive with self-regulatory behaviour being lowest in the luteal phase, giving rise to excessive and unplanned spending behaviour.

I'll make a pdf file of the slides for the talk, if you want a copy email me (k.j.pine@herts.ac.uk).

Friday, 3 April 2009

Sheconomics book signing


Karen (left) and Simonne at the Borders signing event last night......
Had great fun at the book signing at Borders last night. Thanks to all the Sheconomics fans who came along and made it such a friendly do.

But when someone thrusts a blank page at you what, in all honesty, should you write?
Just a name seems a tad impersonal and being too gushing might reek of over-familiarity.

At least I didn’t make the mistake made by the late Kenneth Williams. He was a bit hard of hearing and wrote, 'To Emma Chiswick…’ in a woman’s book. 
‘I didn’t say Emma Chiswick’ the woman bawled at him, ‘I said ‘Ow much is it?’!





Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Brighton - Thursday evening - be there!

Don't forget to join us if you're in Brighton tomorrow evening (and who wouldn't be in this weather? I'm packing my bucket and spade right now!).

From 6.30 pm Simonne & Karen will be at Borders in Brighton for a book-signing event (Churchill Square). We'll be talking about why we wrote Sheconomics, sharing some of our key messages and answering your questions. We'd love you to join us and help celebrate the launch of Sheconomics over a glass of wine.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Spooky but true.

According to a New Scientist article this month money carries an ‘eerie psychological force’.

Here's an example of the eeriness at work. Most people would rather find £100 cash than have their heating bill cut from £950 to £835. Yet the latter gains them more in real terms.

The article suggests these solutions to the psychological biases that trip us up:
1. Freeze your credit card. Literally. Drop it into a tub of water and stick it in the back of the freezer. By the time it’s thawed out the overwhelming urge to splurge will have worn off (or frostbite might have set in).
2. If saving is hard you may find creating a ‘loose change’ category less painful. So if something costs £22 tell yourself it was £30 and save the difference. Do this every time you buy something and it mounts up.
3. MIT researcher Daniel Ariely suggests adding categories to our credit card with specific limits. Maybe a maximum of £50 on a meal out or only £300 a year on shoes. Over the limit and your card gets refused.

Not surprisingly he hasn’t persuaded any credit card company to take this up yet.

PMS = Pre Menstrual Spending?

I'll be presenting the research findings about spending and the menstrual cycle to the BPS on Thursday - but the Sunday Telegraph's sneak preview article can be read online here.


Thursday, 26 March 2009

thanks

Wow, that was quick! Thanks to those who volunteered to be a media case study; seems like loads of you have interesting stories to tell.
Check out this Sunday's telegraph for more about the research.



got a story?

The Sunday Telegraph is running an article this weekend about my latest research on the role of hormones in women's spending behaviour (pre-menstrual spending, impulsivity, loss of control etc.).

If you can offer your story as a case study, let me know a.s.a.p. as the journalist wants some human interest as well as the academic stuff. Thanks.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Because you’re worth ... how much?

I did a radio interview the other day where I was asked to comment on the amazing statistic that women spend an average of £180,000 in a lifetime on….guess what?….beauty products.
I wonder how much of that money goes on packaging and advertising and how much really makes a difference?
My main message was OK, but only if you're putting much more than that into a pension and not looking good today at the expense of future financial security.
What’s the point of having wonderful skin when you’re older if you’re a bag lady living on cat food?
There are tons of cheap alternatives to top-brand beauty rip-offs. For starters check out Janey Lee Grace’s economical and eco-friendly ideas in her fab new pocket book Imperfectly Natural Woman available from Amazon.


talking about money....

This quote seemed to resonate with lots of the women at the recent Sheconomics workshop.....


Monday, 16 March 2009

Saturday's workshop

Thanks to everyone who came along to the Sheconomics workshop at the PFA Conference on Saturday.

It was great fun to get together - well done to everyone who got stuck into the exercises and ventured out of their comfort zones - you were absolute stars!!

There are a few photos on our facebook site.


Friday, 13 March 2009

Did you give up work to have kids?

If you have gaps in your National Insurance contributions record between 1996/97 to 2001/02 you have just three weeks to act if you want to boost the value of your state pension.

You can buy back missed years of contributions but you have to do so by 5th April. You'll thank yourself for it later!

Looking forward

...it's dead exciting .... the Sheconomics workshop at the Psychology For All Conference tomorrow I mean.

As I said to Simonne today, here's the chance to talk about all the stuff we've been passionate about for the past two years - in an hour and a half! To have a rant about why women and men are so different with money..and listen to people's own thoughts and stories.

So if you;re coming, fasten your seat belts, you're in for a fast ride!

Monday, 9 March 2009

A date for the weekend...

I know I've mentioned it before but in case anyone has been living in a cave here’s a reminder about a really exciting event taking place this Saturday 14th March in London.
The Psychology for All Conference is aimed at bringing all sorts of sexy psychology subjects to the general public.
There are talks by the lovely Ruby Wax and the equally lovely (I have to say that, he’s a mate) Richard Wiseman, both promise to be hugely entertaining.
And Simonne and I are giving a Sheconomics workshop, giving people the chance to put all those Laws of Sheconomics into practice – or at least learn about why they can’t. Should be great fun.
Look forward to seeing you there, for more info click here.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Simonne says....mind the pay gap

Women in the UK earn on average 21% less than men according to European Commission figures published yesterday. That’s one of the highest pay gaps in Europe – Italy is the lowest at 4.4% and Estonia the highest at over 30%!

Do employers place higher value on the type of work men do?
Or do women under-estimate their own earnings capability?

Despite being highly talented, as women we often shy away from asking for what we’re really worth. So make sure you don’t set your benchmark too low. If you want to check out whether you have under-earner tendencies, read our 2nd law of Sheconomics: ‘Go beyond beliefs’.


Sunday, 1 March 2009

And you thought a million was a lot.....

Filming a piece about the economy for GMTV this week I had to relay the staggering fact that Britain’s debt is now hitting the two trillion mark. Just writing it down, with all those noughts, made my arm ache. And trying to conceptualise such a mega mount of money made my head spin.

Then Kevin Connolley on Radio 4 yesterday simplified it thus: he said if you think about it in seconds…
a million seconds is 11 days
a billion seconds is around 32 years
and a trillion therefore is 32,000 years

So our debt is equivalent to the number of seconds in 32,000 years.
Now that IS a lot of money... I think I need to go and have a lie down…..



Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Confessions of a financial phobic...

I think Lucy Benyon was very brave in owning up to a whole host of financial phobias in Monday's Daily Express article.

'Talking about money makes me want to put my fingers in my ears and scream' she confessed, 'I haven't got a clue about money'. 

We know she's not alone. Loads of you have said you feel the same. And with recession-talk going on all around us, there's never been a more urgent need to get a grip.

Luckily Simonne was on hand to give Lucy a money makeover as well as Sheconomics, which Lucy describes as ' a chatty jargon-free book that aims to demystify the world of finance'.





Thursday, 5 February 2009

Latest cuts

Phew, we’ve never seen anything like this before. The interest rate cuts I mean. Last autumn interest rates were 5%, today they were slashed to just 1%.

Talk about last minute bargains! If you can grab a fixed rate savings deal that’s still offering around 4% interest, and don’t mind tying up your savings, you’re onto a winner.

I’m off to India for a week … might pick up some tips on how to live on less….

Sunday, 1 February 2009

If you tuned in to BBC London before 11am this morning to hear Lesley Joseph discussing Sheconomics and heard someone talking about dogs getting carsick, that wasn’t me. 
The station’s doggy-help surgery was so popular it over-ran. My slot started just after 11am, Lesley was lovely and a lot warmer than the snowy weather in London this morning.