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Does it Cost More to be a Woman?

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Does it cost more to be a woman? Here are 3 surprising reasons why the answer is "yes".

I was searching for a hair tie in my bathroom (I promise this has a point.) I opened a cabinet, and as cabinets are apt to do when you have two sleeping children in the next room, everything came pouring out of it falling all over me and the bathroom floor.

As I silently cursed, I very calmly picked up everything, I couldn’t help but notice how many things were mine. Hair straighteners, razors, several different kinds of conditioner, and the list goes on and on.

I think it’s safe to say I spend more money on upkeep than my husband, and I don’t really spend that much money on beauty products anymore since becoming self-employed in January. Still, it made me think about women as a whole and some of the costs associated with being of the female persuasion.

I would argue, even, that it costs more to be a woman than it does to be a man.

Here are some examples:

1. Women Do Not Earn as Much as Men

 

This is an indirect cost or an indirect loss, but it’s something that should be considered. Women “lose” money every year when they are not considered for raises or do not get equal pay to their male counterparts. Women also miss many of these opportunities because they leave their jobs or scale back when they have children.

This is no one’s “fault” nor is it a negative thing (I think it’s pretty awesome since I did it myself.) However, it’s just another reason why being a woman is more costly both financially and in terms of professional opportunities lost should they choose to go this route.

2. Products Targeted at Women Cost More

 

In France, they are investigating the “Invisible Women’s Tax” because products that are packaged for women cost more than they do for men. I’ve noticed this myself in the States. In fact, Forbes reported that women spend “$1,351 every year in extra costs and fees,” on everyday errands like dry cleaning.

Women are more active consumers, and marketing firms know this. Take a survey of common household products geared towards men and women next time you’re in the store, and you might find some interesting price comparisons.

3. Upkeep Is Expensive

 

Now I know not all women go crazy for beauty products, but a recent Huffingon Post article reported that 35 percent of women use one to two products every day to get ready whereas most men (more than 50 percent) do not use any products at all to get ready in the morning. Some women also have to worry about things like their nails, waxing, and of course a haircut a few times a year.

Now, all of this can definitely be accomplished frugally but many women feel that there is an expectation to look a certain way. Luckily, I don’t worry too much about all of this myself unless I have to actually be at a video meeting (rarely) but I know many of my friends spend a lot of money on their “upkeep” so they look a certain way at work.

Is being a woman more expensive than being a man? These 3 reasons might surprise you.

So, does it cost more to be a woman? I think so. However, it’s also as expensive as you want it to be. I spent three of my four years blogging as a brunette “Budget Blonde” because I didn’t want to pay for highlights. Now, my neighbor does them for a discounted rate.

You can choose to be a woman who stays home or aggressively fights for raises. You can choose to get your nails done every week or not do them at all. You can choose to buy pink razors or just wear men’s deodorant to make a statement and save a buck. Really, it’s all up to you, but isn’t it interesting that these choices, income disparities, and price differences exist?

 

What do you think? Does it cost more to be a woman? What do you think women spend money on that men don’t? What costs did I miss?

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Catherine Alford is a professional public speaker and freelance writer who covers family, finance, and freedom. Check out her blog, BudgetBlonde, and her bio at CatherineAlford.com.

46 Comments

  • Yes, but mostly because we choose to be more expensive with some things. We don’t need all the make up of special shampoo but on the other hand social pressures and culture shape this. We do have a choice, at least.
    The cost of feminine hygiene really gets me- tampons appear cheap but add how many we use over a year and it’s quite a bit of money. Oh, and bras!

  • Much as I hate to admit it–yes, it does seem to cost more! I’ve seriously pared down my beauty routine and limited the number of products I buy, but, I still have more stuff than Mr. FW. I think there’s absolutely an unfair expectation of women to appear a certain way.

    My weakness is definitely clothes more than makeup, and I’m proud of myself for sticking to my “no buying clothes” in 2014 plan.

    My frugal beauty tip is that I actually use a men’s razor because it works better and was vastly cheaper 🙂

  • Kim says:

    I would agree that it costs more to be a woman. Even if you are very frugal, I would argue that 95% of women buy makeup, moisturizers or get a haircut every once in a while. Women have to buy tampons and our birth control options are more expensive if you need that. Society also makes us feel that we need and deserve so many things that are not marketed to men!

  • I have to agree it costs more to be a woman than a man. My wife’s haircut alone makes it so that I could never catch up to her “maintenance” expenses. I believe for a cut and highlights with a tip it’s about $210 for her. I spend about $36 and we go to the same stylist. Of course that’s a choice…and one she will continue to make as it makes her happy (and it’s her money to spend).

  • Catherine says:

    In general, yes. Also as I already wrote about it, women’s products in general are more expensive (razors, product etc). Cost of being beautiful 😉 haha.

  • moneystepper says:

    As far as day-to-day items are concerned, I definitely agree that its more expensive to be a woman. I’m always surprised that female hygiene products are as expense as they are. I guess that is the price of necessity!

    However, I think the opposite is true when it comes to clothing. The range of clothing for men in the low-moderate price range is MUCH less limited that women’s, and therefore you often have to spend more to get an equivalent product.

  • I think it costs more to be a woman but as you said, there is a choice to how much more expensive it is. When you buy 5 different types of conditioner, then things get really expensive. It all comes down to choices. But with that said, I am pretty sure conditioner geared towards women costs more than the version aimed at men.

  • Certainly agree with #3. Give me some hair gel, deodorant, and toothpaste and I’m set, compared to my wife’s, foundation, eye liner, hair spray, lip gloss etc. Haircut alone cost 2x what mine does. A big difference in cost and time to get ready.

  • I think it costs more too. Even with my super frugal beauty budget, I spend way more than Rick on stuff like that.

  • At first glance, one might think that it’s more expensive to be a woman, but I think we’d need to take a step back and really look at entire lifestyles to get a clear answer. Now, admittedly we’re dealing with some stereotypes here, so grant me that leeway (there are surely people of both sexes that will fall into all of these categories). The stereotypical female seemingly spends more one upkeep such as makeup, hair products, lotion, etc, etc. But I wonder if you’d look at something like gym memberships – do men feel a greater pressure to strength train to gain muscle? Are there more men that have gym memberships than woman? I dunno, interesting question. How about alcohol expenses? The stereotypical male meets the guys for drinks after work – do males spend more in alcohol? Or tools? The stereotypical male needs a stocked toolbox. If we step back and look at total lifestyle, one might find it more equal than we’d first think.

  • Kathy says:

    When men buy suits alterations are usually free. When women buy suits, we have to pay for alterations. Getting out hair cut usually costs more than a man’s cut, and then we do things like perms, highlights etc. And we are much more likely to buy accessories than men such as earrings, handbags, makeup etc. Of course much of that expense is purely voluntarily, so it is in our control. So some of the extra expense is unnecessary, but it is there all the same.

  • Jenna says:

    When my husband and I had individual “fun” money, we used to consider this sort of beauty and clothes stuff as part of that. We eventually made it a part of general spending because my stuff cost so much more just have a moderate level of upkeep.

  • The only product that my hubby uses on a daily basis is deodorant. He has zero need for hair products ever since he started shaving his head. Which also means he pays zero for haircuts. There’s no way I could ever compete with that- the cost of just me having hair already costs way more than him- not to mention makeup, moisturizer, etc!!

  • Pauline says:

    Men clothes are generally less expensive, which is annoying when you see they’re actually better quality and have more fabric. Plus the market is smaller since men buy less clothes so they must really make a big margin on women clothes.

  • It definitely costs more to be a woman and it starts at an early age. It’s so much easier and cheaper to dress my 8 year old son than it would be to dress an 8 year old girl. He literally wears one pair of sneakers every day. I see some of his classmates where 3 or 4 in a week. And my side of the bathroom definitely has more product than hubby’s and I have scaled back a lot over the years. One of these days women will earn as much or more than men to cover these added expenses. Hopefully we will be alive to see that day. 🙂

  • Kassandra says:

    Echoing what most others have said that it definitely costs women more to operate on a daily basis. I spend less than I did before to have be “presentable” at all times as I now work from home but I still use more products and pay more for clothing and accessories than DH would. Even my usual work uniform of flannel pj’s cost more than his lol!

  • Lauren says:

    It definitely costs more. Those monthly expenses for Aunt Flow’s visit really add up. Pregnancy and delivery costs can be huge, too. Dang, the more I think about it, the more annoyed I’m getting! Haha.

  • Bridget says:

    I don’t understand why you think women earning less, being passed over for promotions, and taking time off work for is “no one’s fault” and “not a negative thing”.

    Seriously? Because it’s not a positive thing. There’s a huge imbalance and inequality when it comes down to who should stay home with the children. Women sacrifice their careers way more often then men. This is everybody’s fault (women & men) and it is HUGELY negative.

    Also, women are paid less than men for the same job even before they have children. This is not ok.

    • Cat says:

      Hi Bridget – On the contrary! I think salary inequality is a HUGE problem. When I said “it’s not a negative thing” I was referring to my own experience with my children. My choice to stay home was exactly that – my choice. Thus, it is no one’s fault that I do it nor is it negative. For other people, the story might be different. But obviously I believe men and women should be paid equally. I don’t know any woman who thinks otherwise! Best of luck and thanks for taking the time to comment on today’s post.

  • Kara says:

    Oh I definitely think so! Bras alone can set us back a pretty penny!

  • Natalya says:

    I agree it costs more (in some way) to be a woman rather than a man – and remember women also have to buy all those additional ‘monthly’ extras that men don’t have to bother with – has anyone ever calculated how much that comes to over the course of 30+ years?

    My hubby doesn’t need a handbag or to buy tights all the time cause they get ripped after a few wears (or the cats snag them) or wear makeup (except on a Friday night 😉 ).

    I am expected to look a certain way at work and as frugal as I am – sometimes only a good quality suit can cut it – but I can’t wear the same thing every day like hubby with his suit – as someone would likely comment!

    It’s a minefield!
    Natalya @CottageRetreatist

    • Cat says:

      All excellent points and someone else brought up AF – so true!

    • Pedro says:

      I completely agree that there are some unballance situations in society. I do agree wage difference is really unfair, and I believe it is derived from the “men are the home providers and woman the household carers” stereotype, and the fact that most companies think women are eventually less productive than men, exactly because they tend to chat more and be absent more times to take care of children illness, etc. In truth, society should provide even more support to women for those activities, if we still want to have human births in the future.
      This said, I can’t also be unfair as to say men are to blame for all, because as you may have notice, most of society pressure for women to spend alot in maintenance, comes in fact from other peer females.
      Rarely will you have a men comment for a woman using the same shoes or hairstyle all month long. (As a side tip, most men, and I’m blushing a bit here, I hate to admit it to myself, but… men won’t even notice it, most times!)
      Best wishes.

  • I’m not sure I’m qualified to comment on this haha. I do think women have to spend a lot more on their appearance than men. It’s interesting to see companies target men, though, in markets such as lotions, skin cleanser, accessories, etc. recently.

  • Yup! It costs more to be a woman! Generally. Though I agree that it still depends on the woman if she would go for expensive brands or not.

  • Yes, I have noticed that women’s things are more expensive than men’s stuff. I have even bought men’s deodorant for that reason! I used to spend a lot of money on hair dye and waxing when I was much younger. I think of how much money I wasted…I now spend hardly anything on cosmetics, and even though I want to dye my hair again, I refrain for now. It’s definitely more expensive to be a woman!

  • Abigail says:

    Oh yeah, it’s more expensive. Some of it self-imposed. But women’s clothes tend to cost more than men’s, I think. Especially since it’s more okay for guys to dress down.

    And yeah, bras and undies kill it. Plus most of us like to take special care of our hair. I have fancy shampoo, which I buy with GCs mainly, while my husband buys Pert Plus. Sigh.

  • Michelle says:

    All I know, is that I have spent much more money on my niece than I have on my nephew. At least younger, I believe it does cost more to be female.

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