SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - When it comes to money, women really are more responsible then men, with an international survey finding that they're less likely to get into debt and strive harder to become financially independent.

The global Reuters Synovate survey polled some 4,500 women in 12 countries about money matters. An equal number of men were also asked several questions related to finances.

The survey showed that just over half respondents of both genders said women are more responsible with money than men, with the highest level of agreement found in Mexico, where 72 percent of people believed women were better at handling finances.

And although more than 40 percent of women use part of their monthly income to pay off credit cards, some 70 percent of female respondents also said that having more than one credit card could lead to financial debt, revealing women's higher awareness.

It's obviously not the card itself that causes anyone to use it. So the statement is really about control and temptation, said Claire Braverman, international market research firm Synovate's senior vice president of Financial Services in the United States.

The ability to spend more, that you don't have in the first place, can certainly lead to debt. It means people have to control themselves and their spouses, she added.

More women believed in their financial ability than men, with 61 percent saying they were more responsible, while only 40 percent of men agreed.

But nearly half the women surveyed also conceded that they were bigger spenders than their male counterparts, with nearly 60 percent of men agreeing.

The survey was conducted in December in Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Africa, Britain, and the United States.

Synovate's Braverman said the survey's findings could help financial companies understand women's needs, as they tend to live longer than men, and typically have less money on retiring.

Women who pool their finances with a spouse or a partner are also likely to suffer more if the relationship ends.

Some women have checks in place to guard against this happening to them, some don't. Some are financially savvy, and some are simply not interested, she said.

This adds up to an urgent need for financial services companies to understand women and cater to their specific needs and the situations in which they are likely to find themselves, planned or unplanned, she added.

Nearly six in 10 women considered themselves to be financially independent, which for 41 percent meant not having to rely on a partner for money and living debt-free for a third of respondents.

The survey, however, found that despite their independence, 43 percent of women believed that a man should be responsible for the mortgage or the house payments.

(Editing by Sugita Katyal)