In their February 2010 issue, Marie Claire asks five different women in various parts of the Globe how they spend their monthly paychecks. The result is a fascinating glimpse into the lives of upper middle class women.
The article, titled "What It Costs To Be Me" provides each woman's annual income (converted to dollars) as compared to the average income for women in that country. Maria Kammonen, living in Helsinki, Finland, makes close to $54,000 a year, where the average woman's income is $28,992. Esi Cleland, a copywriter for an international agency makes $28,500 per year in Accra, Ghana. Other women in Ghana earn a paltry $1,133. Maura Paciotti, in Pennsylvania, makes about $65,000 a year, plus commission, in contrast to the average American woman, who makes $34,996. Amira Mohsen, a broadcast journalist in Egypt, brings home $14,700 where most Egyptian women pocket just $2,286. And Renata Nascimento, a buyer at a multinational import/export firm, banks $30,000 a year, more than four times the annual income of other women in Brazil ($7,190.)
Marie Claire chose an interesting type of woman to profile - the majority of the women are single (with the exception of Kammonen, who mentions a fiancé) and none of them mention children, which means they can apply the largest percentage of their disposable income to activities, events, and personal grooming. All the women are urban girls, into the party scene (all five mention going out for drinks with friends as part of their regular routine). But the differences in each of the women's lives expose some interesting trends about what it means to be an autonomous, high earning single woman in various regions of the world.
Most compelling is how the stability of income and financial infrastructre of a country impacts how the women spend their money. Kammonen (Finland) and Paciotti (USA) are comfortable spending a lot of their money to live close to city centers and activities. Paciotti mentions putting "a chunk of money" into savings and paying off her credit card, and Kammonen talks about how her household is "not short on money" but mentions that they are spending their money on travel, rather than saving.
In contrast, Cleland (Ghana), Mohsen (Egypt), and Nascimento (Brazil) all mention some anxiety about spending money - normally related to something large and cultural. Cleland hoards three-fourths of the money she makes each month, which sounds like an amazing feat. However, she also point out all the issues she faces as a single woman in Ghana: she fought to get a lease from her landlord as many landlords do not want to rent to women and most properties require two years of rent before you can move in. Cleland is also an aspiring entrepreneur, but notes that she cannot count on a small business loan to finance her initial expenditures - interest rates for loans in Ghana are about 70%.
Mohsen's story is similar. She also had problems finding a place to rent before finding her current three-bedroom she shares with two roommates. Mohsen's expenses sound fairly low ($160 for rent, $80 for cell coverage, $2 lunches, and $1 hookahs) but explains that the national television station she freelances for is unreliable with payments, the national healthcare system is in shambles, and the media business is fickle, which makes it hard for her to actually plan out her expenses.
Nascimento is 30 years old, but still lives with her parents to save money. She also banks 25% of her paycheck, and has been saving for a decade to purchase her own apartment. As this echoes a theme also heard in countries like Italy, Iran, and Japan (and perhaps, one day in the US), I would love to see an article that really analyzes the impact of the rising cost of housing with its impact on independence, families, and relationships.
Official Site [Marie Claire]