Men or women: Who is better at handling the family finances?

Who's got the most financial nous in your house?

If it is the woman of the family then your household is part of a growing trend of females taking control of financial decision-making, especially those in their 20s to mid-40s.

The rise of these money matriarchs is having a positive impact on long-term financial planning at home, according to the findings of the latest Lloyds TSB Family Savings report, which shows that in households where women look after the money, 90% save carefully for the long term, whereas in those families where the man is in charge, just 80% invest for the future.

Female intuition

Greg Coughlan, head of savings at the bank, says: "Younger women have definitely taken a firmer grip of the purse strings, moving from the traditional role of managing the day-to-day spending to planning and selecting where the money is kept."

Faizah Ali-Hussain from Ilford in Essex is one of this burgeoning army of women in financial control.

Ask Faizah, 26, a recruitment officer currently on maternity leave, who is firmly in charge of her family's finances, and without hesitation she says: "Definitely me. I have always looked after the finances."

Married to Israr, 28, a Metropolitan Police officer, with a five-month-old daughter Imaayah, Faizah logs every detail of the family's budget into a spreadsheet so she can see how much money is coming and going, and what will be left at the end of the month.

She says: "It varies each month because my husband will get extra if he works weekends. It will be particularly important for me to keep a close eye on things from January when my maternity pay is due to end."

Faizah chose the mortgage, decides which energy supplier to switch to, selects home and life insurance and has set up savings accounts for both of them. She says: "Israr wasn't sure about savings accounts as he likes to live for the moment but I tend to think of the future. Now he's got used to it, especially when he's seen what saving can get you. We've been to Dubai, Malaysia and Pakistan, all because we were disciplined with our money."

She also has stockmarket investments. She says: "Israr wasn't keen as he is quite cautious but I persuaded him it would be good for the long term." As Faizah's position reveals, women often have their money goals set for the longer term, especially when children come along.

Forward thinking

Ruth Whitehead, a North London-based financial adviser, says this is nothing new. "There have always been matriarchal figures in the background, although society, and especially financial services, often regard the male as the decision-maker," she says.

"I remember going with my parents to Abbey National to talk about opening an investment account and the sales person talked exclusively to my father, even though it was my mother who was always in charge of the money and had even set up the meeting. She was not amused."

The taboos surrounding money discussions can still prevail, she says. "I had one client who discovered when her husband died he'd been made redundant years earlier and had been pretending to go to work each day, borrowing to cover living expenses.

"Fortunately, that is rare and now when I see clients who are in couples, whether they are same sex or heterosexual couples, they often come to see me together and speak openly."

Whitehead has several elderly widows as clients. She says: "Some are used to their husbands organising all the finances and come to me quite frightened, but they quickly realise money matters aren't so mysterious."

Behavioural finance

Whitehead believes it is often personality rather than gender that influences behaviour. "I had two couples in this week to talk about pensions. For one it was the wife who wanted to be adventurous with their investments and the husband cautious, while it was the other way round for the second couple," she says.

There are still plenty of patriarchs of the purse strings out there, however. Jenny Lerwick, 52, a mother of four from East Sussex, says her husband "is definitely the boss" on money matters. "He loves managing the finances and shopping around for deals and bargains," she says.

"For example, he will change our energy supplier twice a year and always asks for discounts wherever we go. I really couldn't be bothered with all that but I'm pleased he wants our money to work harder and the whole family benefits."

Similarly, Fiona Kelly, 46, a mother of two from south London, also lets her husband Peter, 50, a marketing manager, take the driving seat. The part-time health worker says: "He makes all the big money decisions, partly because he's always been the main breadwinner.

He is much better at it and takes care of all my tax affairs, for example. I've never been that good with money. I always had a large overdraft when I was a nurse and was broke, partly because I chose to run a car.

"I have a small pension from nursing but Peter has organised life insurance. However, I do check bank statements every month to make sure everything is correct and I have my own bank account so I can spend on myself without asking him for money."

Some names have been changed.