How to manage your money like a man

What are our male counterparts doing differently? And is it working?

THREE out of five men are reviewing their finances in 2011 while only half the population of women are up to the challenge. This alarming figure came from the Mortgage Choice 2010 Consumer Sentiment Survey, which found that less than half of Australian female mortgage holders (49 per cent) planned to review their financial situation in 2011 to make changes — compared with 61 per cent of men.
Mortgage Choice spokeswoman Kristy Sheppard says women are not living up to their full financial potential if the figures reflect broader attitudes.
"Everyone with a large debt commitment should review, at the very least, that commitment and their budget every year," she says.
The good news however, is this is still a big improvement from last year, when only one out of three had considered reviewing their finances in 2010.
But when we talk about "finances", it seems we all have different ideas. Some women consider consolidating their debts as one of their top 10 finance plans for 2011 (18 percent), while others want to pay off credit cards (45 per cent).
However, at the end of the day, it's all about saving money, so what are the best ways to rearrange your finances?
The rule of thumb is that size matters. Your biggest assets can become liabilities if you don't make sure you're getting the best interest rates. Conversely, you can also save thousands every year on your largest debts.
For example, moving $20,000 worth of savings from a low 2.5 per cent account to a high-interest savings account of 6 per cent would earn you an extra $728 per year.
Likewise, refinancing a $300,000 home loan from 8 to 7 per cent will save you more than $2200 a year over a 20-year loan.
Luckily, more women seem to have a good grasp on the benefits of refinancing, with one in three saying refinancing their mortgage was a personal goal for 2011, compared to around one in four men.
Comparison websites such as RateCity has made the process even easier, allowing you to search and swap loans from the comfort of home.
Saving cash shouldn't be a gender sport. With interest rates expected to rise this year, everyone should be actively finding better home loans, savings accounts, or low-rate credit cards. And with financial comparison websites in the mix, the yearly budget review is becoming less bore, and more breeze.
Michelle Hutchison is a consumer advocate at RateCity. RateCity is a privately owned company in partnership with ninemsn, publisher of the Australian Women's Weekly website. The above information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.

Your say: Who manages the money in your household? Do you think men or women are better at dealing with financial matters? Email us on openline@bauer-media.com.au

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