The results of a new research survey out of Marks & Spencer Money in London says that one-third of British women are financially independent, with a quarter earning at least as much as their partners, primarily men. That's a rather startling figure.

If you go back to 1985, a mere 20 years ago, and compare women's finances then with now, you will find that there's been a big growth spurt. In fact, a 47 percent increase in the number of women who are now in full-time jobs or who own a nice portfolio of savings and investments. In Britain, you're talking about 7.2 million women who meet that criterion.

Need more evidence? Well, back in 1985, a scant seven percent of women earned nearly the same or a little more than their partners. The figure today is at 23 percent.

Also, take a look at how couples are handling their money. Do you know that women do not rely today on getting an allowance from the man in the family? Actually, some 45 percent of couples say that they have separate bank accounts with only a third (35 percent) admitting to a joint account.

With this change in finances, the Marks & Spencer survey points out that women are really at the heart of financial decision-making. In fact, 16 percent of them represent the one to decide whether to buy or sell a family home. The men can only sport 10 percent of them with that power. Have you bought or sold a home recently? Who makes the final decision?

But, here's a real corker. Normally, you would think that when it comes to do-it-yourself projects, men take over. Nope, not according to the research report. It says that almost as many women as men take the responsibility for those decisions to carry out do-it-yourself projects. It's 34 to 36 percent. Hey, that's a dead heat.

Okay, question? Who pays the bills such as phone, gas, electric, and credit cards? You know where I'm heading. Women, of course.

But now we come to the real heartbreaker or heart burner, if you will. The average pay in any job for a woman is still 12 percent less than for the man...for the same job.

In London, in 1985, the weekly earnings for women were $226, with $343 for men (I've converted from pounds to dollars). That's a difference of $117. Today? Ouch! Women $646 and men $834. That's a difference of $188. It's clearly not getting any better.

As a workingman with a working wife, I am all in favor of more money for the women. Absolutely. That's the one area that is bogging down.

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