Men Flaunt It, Women Don't

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My friend, Leonora, always knows how to find a good deal. And when she drags me out shopping, we’ll usually find something to buy. When I shop by myself, it’s not much different―if I find a deal, I’ll buy it, but otherwise, no.

But here’s a surprise: Men act differently. They tend to spend more – a lot more – when they shop with their buddies, than when they shop alone.

According to “The Influence of Friends on Consumer Spending,” in the Journal of Marketing, it’s men who have a shopping problem: Men spend 17 percent more when they shop with friends. For women, there’s no discernible difference. The study concluded that when they’re among friends, men and women both tend to spend in ways that fit the kind of image they want to project.

It’s called “impression management,” and the thinking behind the jargon is that how we spend money – and who we spend it with – creates an impression on others. By tailoring our shopping behavior, the study’s authors have concluded, we’re trying to manage the impression others have about us.

In short, men show off when they shop with friends, women don’t.

Recently, economists watched as consumers (both men and women) cut back on everyday spending. According to the study, consumers did so not only to watch their budget but also so others wouldn’t think they were flaunting their cash when times were tight.

But that self-imposed austerity may be wearing off. According to Chase Blueprint’s(R) Pulse of the Consumer study, 22 percent of consumers surveyed last year said they were spending more on everyday items, but this year 32 percent are spending more.

Do you find that you’re spending more when you’re shopping with friends?

Once you answer that question, you can start to better manage your budget. This way, no matter who you’re with you’re in control of your spending. Here are a couple of suggestions that might help:

Manage your spending triggers: If you know you spend more when you’re with your pals, decide in advance how much you’re willing to spend and then stop when you reach your limit. If that’s too hard, don’t shop with your friends.

Stick to your budget: Whether you’re shopping with friends or alone, stick to the budget you’ve set. It may not be easy, but it’s easier than paying off debt for items you don’t really need.

Enlist your friends: Turn the tables by electing your friends as budget watchdogs, or mentors. Tell them about your budget goals and encourage them to help keep you on track.

Chase Blueprint is a free set of features on Chase credit cards that helps customers avoid interest and pay down balances faster.

Ilyce Glink is an award-winning author, columnist, radio talk show host, and blogger who specializes in real estate and personal finance. Find her online at


  1. The Influence of Friends on Consumer Spending, Didem Kurt, J. Jeffrey Inman, and Jennifer J. Argo, Journal of Marketing Research, Volume 48, Number 4, August 2011.
  2. Chase survey: Pulse of the Consumer, August 2013. Page 8.


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