15 Feb 2010

Russian Women and Their Money

Penny Farthing, in her personal finance blog,  published an interesting article about money in Japan and it inspired me to write a similar post about money and Russian women!
  • In traditional Russian families it is very common that women look after the day to day budget and men tend to get some spending money handed out.
  • Both man and woman are likely to have saved some money from their salaries without disclosing it to their partners. A man would call it...

    ... "zanachka"which could be translated as "stacked away" and women usually refer to it as "something for my hair clips" (which may sound like a small sum - but it usually is a substantial amount of money, way more than men use to put aside).
    Men tend to save their money in cash, while women tend to buy something valuable with it or invest it.
  • Russians prefer to buy their food at the local markets that are usually open 7 days a week and sell everything from meat to chocolate. Russians tend to buy food in bulk and usually are skilled in cooking meals from left overs so that not much gets wasted.
  • Russian men are expected to pay for all large purchases, as well as for the wedding. Often women would keep money they have earned to themselves rather than contribute it in full into the family budget.
  • One reason for such a disproportionate contribution to the budget may lay in the fact that divorce settlements are usually not very favorable to women as the Russian family law does not know what a alimony for an ex-wife is. Alimony is only paid for children until they reach 18. So Russian women are brought up being aware and prepared to deal with a possible financial shortfall if they decide to get divorced.
  • Credit cards are usually pre-paid (banks require you to pay money in and won't let you go overdraft). Paying by credit card is not as wide spread as in the Western part of the world. Using your credit card is still seen equal to taking out a loan.
  • An average Russian prefers to save up for a large purchase rather than to take a loan to be able to afford something. People who take out a loan to afford a holiday are being talked about and usually are perceived as "poor" (not being able to save upfront) or "stupid" (spending over their means).
  • Money and earnings is something that before Perestroika was easily discussed and talked about. This was partially due to the fact that everyone knew what others were earning as well as how much their rent would be, etc. More recently money has become an uneasy topic to discuss but it is still discussed more openly than in western Europe.

Dating Russians

At the same time Austin from Foreigner's Finances has written a guest post for ptMoney where he discusses benefits of joined accounts for couples. I do agree with his idea in general though it might be not such a great idea if you are in a relationship with someone from a different culture!


Well, let me give you an example of a relationship between a Russian woman and let's say a UK man (any western European man would do, actually). It's quite common to share all the costs of living between partners here, in Europe and in the US. It's a different story in Russia!

As I just mentioned men are expected to pay for most of the purchases as well as for rent, holidays, restaurants, etc. It is actually seen as an affront to a man if a woman pays for something in his presence. It might be seen as an attempt to say to this man that he is not masculine enough, not "a man" really ...

Now imagine what happens if a man suggests to share the cost of a holiday or to pay in turns when they go out? While your Russian girlfriend might accept your suggestion and even agree with your view on the shared budget I am pretty certain it will leave her with a bit of an uneasy feeling about your relationship.

My suggestion - if you are dating an eastern European woman you may want to approach the financial burdened sharing topic with some caution and may be give it a bit more time before expecting your other half to contribute to the joint spending...

image by prokudin-gorsky

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Sudeep said...

A wonderful post ...Let me tell you I come from middle class society of India .When I read this post I feel a lot common to the Middle working class life of India .. no difference.
My question has 21 century affected Russia on changing some of this rules or is it still the same?

PennyF said...

Hi Anastasia,

I really enjoyed this post - most informative! Thanks for referencing my Japanese women post :).


Anastasia said...

I would argue it is still the same:-) In my opinion women now have more responsibilities but not necessarily more rights! I love my country dearly but the issue with the place of women in Russian society is actually the major reason I wouldn't want to live there at the moment

Francisco said...

"...I am pretty certain it will leave her with a bit of an uneasy feeling about your relationship."

Very interesting...

My question is: why is that? Does she think that the man is not interested in her if she has to share expenses? This is so strange for Western mentality.

Anastasia said...

well I think it's because a russian woman needs to know that you will care for her and a lot of them been taught by their mothers and grandmothers that caring and paying is pretty equal, plus who wants to date a tight man?

Francisco said...

Hi Anastasia, and thank you for your answer.

>caring and paying is pretty equal

Yes, I think a lot of Russian women see it that way. So, if the man doesn't pay they consider he doesn't care. And if he pays, he cares.

There are rich men who will pay, but not necessarily care one bit about his Russian woman.

About dating a tight man: I said to a Russian girl friend, It is wonderful to accept invitations, you don't have to pay, жизнь прекрасно! Maybe she is not interested at all in the man, but... an invitation is an invitation.

Also, when I was in Russia, I was told it was typical of men to spend a lot of money at a restaurant to impress women... and then spend the rest of the month without money because of that. )))))))))

Anastasia said...

Well, let me give you another example:-) I was 16 and had my first job which earned me a good amount of money for a day work. So I invited my parents to a restaurant to celebrate it. Once the time to pay the bill came my dad got very cross with me because I wanted to pay in front of him (aka not letting a man pay) - the end of our discussion? I had to give him MY money under the table so the HE could pay (now, being much older I understand how stupid it was of him) - but what do you think have I learned at that point in time?:-)

Sarah King said...

What do Russian women think about men from US?

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