Are girls influenced to spend instead of save?

Are girls as young as seven being conditioned to view trendy clothing, cosmetics and spa treatments as needs rather than wants, which undermines their ability to save money and learn financial smarts?

I was catching up on some reading this weekend when I came across a noteworthy article in the Globe and Mail: Ditch spa parties for lemonade stands and raise a money-smart daughter.

The piece argues that girls as young as seven are being conditioned to view trendy clothing, cosmetics and spa treatments as needs rather than wants, which undermines their ability to save money and learn financial smarts.

As the parent of a boy, it’s not something I’ve spent much time thinking about. Adam pays zero attention to clothes — I’m not sure he’d even be able to identify his own just-removed shirt after swimming if it wasn’t labelled with his name. (Come to think of it, he has come home from summer day camp wearing the wrong shorts once or twice.) More than half the clothes he’s ever worn have been hand-me-downs and he’s never really noticed (and certainly hasn’t complained about it).

While the article does offer some good suggestions to help girls establish priorities for saving and spending, I’m having a hard time buying into the premise here — that it’s harder for girls to become financially literate because of peer pressure to look a certain way. “Perhaps pressured by subtle social cues to value appearance over saving,” the article suggests, “many girls still grow up without adequate money and investing skills despite their success in the classroom and a proliferation of programs designed to teach kids about money.”

Boys may not spend much allowance or birthday money on their appearance (although I’m not sure that’s necessarily true once they hit their teenage years), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t under social pressure to spend money frivolously on other things — say, the latest and greatest techno gadgets, video games or sporting gear. Remember the expression about boys and their toys?

I think it’s a challenge for anyone — girl or boy, man or woman — to put long-term goals ahead of short-term wants in a society that glorifies instant gratification.

What do you think? Are girls more careless with money than boys?

About the Author

Tamar Satov

Managing Editor, CPA magazine
Tamar is a journalist specializing in business, parenting and personal finance. She blogs regularly in this space with advice and anecdotes on her efforts to raise a money-smart kid.

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