If you want to know how and why money is spent, look to women.

Women are lousy drivers, shopaholics and emotional. These are all well-worn stereotypes in the gender game. Here are a couple more. Women aren’t good with money and we are intimidated by financial issues.

But, when the stereotype is subjected to the hard light of research, a female of a whole different order emerges.

According to a new survey commissioned by Barbara Stewart (CFA), portfolio manager with Cumberland Private Wealth Management in Toronto, women today more closely resemble Rosy the Riveter in the realm of money than any blonde moment stereotype. We’re strong, confident, involved and in control.

After reading the results of a national Angus Reid Public Opinion poll released in December, one can only come to a single conclusion. Women are the boss of money.

Stewart, who has been advising high net worth clients for 15 years, had heard all the stereotypes about women and money and she was sick of them. It irked her that much of the delivery of financial services to women was based on the stereotypes of a gentler, more conservative and fearful sex.

The survey, conducted in conjunction with six focus groups led by Stewart and 25 in-depth interviews, includes one jaw-dropping stat. Eighty-nine per cent of respondents laid claim to being the final decision maker on all matters of household spending.

Equally interesting, the same percentage indicated that financial decisions should be made in conjunction with their life partner. But only 51 per cent of respondents actually walked the walk and consulted their mates about spending decisions.

Household spending is a mammoth area. We’re not just talking about cereal and soap. It’s everything from clothes and renovations to electronics, recreation, medical and education. In 2009, household spending averaged more than $71,000 per family, according to Statistics Canada. And women run the show.

My own informal research shows that women are increasingly making the decisions in the investment arena. That means anyone with RRSP investment products to sell over the next six weeks had better pay attention to the fairer sex.

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