Women are bearing the brunt of the continued squeeze on household budgets, a consumer group warned today.
Which? uncovered a "stark gender divide" in how people are coping with their finances, with women tending to be not only the hardest hit but also less optimistic about their future prospects and those of the wider economy.
Only one woman in five expects her finances to improve over the next year compared with one quarter of men.
The group's quarterly consumer report found that women are more likely to be cutting back on food, household goods and socialising than men, with 38% of women saying they were doing this compared with 31% of men.
Almost one third (31%) of women surveyed said that they ran out of money last month, compared with less than one quarter (23%) of men.
Women are also more likely than men to have no savings at all to fall back on, at one quarter of women, whereas just one in six men said the same.
They are also more downbeat about the economy, with just one in six expecting it to improve in the next 12 months. By contrast, one in three men expect to see the economy lift in the coming months.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "These findings will resonate with many women, showing the stark reality of how they are bearing the brunt of the current financial squeeze, and are left worried for both their own personal finances and the wider economy.
"The Government says it is searching for ways to support women, and this survey should make policy makers pause for thought."
More than 2,000 people took part in the study across the UK last month.