Here’s Why Women Spend $526K More Than Men Over Their Lifetimes

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You’ve probably heard of the “pink tax” — the extra money women are routinely charged across a number of categories including personal care products, personal care services and clothing. But you may not realize just how much extra women pay over the course of their lifetimes. In this “Financially Savvy Female” column, we’re breaking down the numbers, plus what women can do to save money and avoid this gendered “tax.”

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A $526K Lifetime Tab: All the Ways Women Pay More Than Men

Women pay more for everything from shampoo to healthcare, and those costs really add up — to the tune of over a half-million dollars on average. Here’s a look at how that breaks down.

Personal Care Products

On average, women’s shampoo costs around $9 while men’s shampoo costs close to $6, Business Insider reported. HerMoney crunched the numbers and found that if a woman spends $3 more than a man on every bottle of shampoo, supposing she buys 60 years’ worth of shampoo, she’ll be spending $1,260 more than a man over the course of a lifetime on shampoo alone.

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Women are also charged more for other hair care products, razors, deodorant, shaving cream, body wash, lotion and other personal care items. HerMoney estimated that the average extra costs women pay for these products over a lifetime add up to a whopping $132,000.

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Home Ownership

Buying a home is a major expense — and it turns out that women tend to pay more for their homes than men. According to research conducted by Jerry, single women pay 2% more than single men when buying homes, and sell their homes for 2% less, resulting in an extra cost of $24,000 for single women in the homebuying and selling process relative to men. In addition, women have 0.04% higher mortgage rates than men on average and may pay up to $5,100 more than men over a 30-year fixed-interest loan period.

Feminine Care Products

Feminine care product costs are an expense that men can avoid entirely, while women will spend an average of $1,920 over the course of their lifetimes, HerMoney reported.

Clothing and Accessories

Women’s clothing has long been more expensive than men’s clothing, but there’s been a drastic uptick in recent years. Since 2017, women’s clothing has become 40% more expensive, while men’s clothing has increased in price by 25%, Shondaland reported. Women’s underwear, handbags and jeans have also nearly doubled in price.

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If the average women’s shirt now costs $5 more than the average men’s shirt, assuming she buys a new shirt every two months, over the course of her lifetime, that’s a $1,500 difference, HerMoney reported. And that’s just for shirts alone — and that doesn’t include the added costs of dressing overall, as women are also expected by society to have more extensive wardrobes than men.

Beauty Products

As with feminine care products, this is another category that many men avoid altogether — and it’s an expensive one. BuzzFeed reported that the average woman in the U.S. spends around $300,000 on makeup in her lifetime.

Healthcare

A 2019 study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that women pay more than men for healthcare services during every phase of their life. Much of this difference is due to the fact that women have to pay for gynecological care — whether for routine checkups, pregnancy/childbirth and health issues related to menopause — while men do not.

From ages 19 to 34, the average woman spends $3,402 per year while the average man spends $1,891 — a $1,511 difference. From ages 35 to 44, the average woman spends $4,717 per year while the average man spends $2,518 — a $2,199 difference. From ages 45 to 54, the average woman spends $5,908 per year while the average man spends $4,825 — a $1,083 difference. And from ages 55 to 64, the average woman spends $9,489 per year while the average man spends $7,850 — a $1,639 difference.

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If you add all those extra costs up, that amounts to an additional $66,954 on healthcare over the course of a woman’s lifetime.

The Total Cost

Here’s a look at how all of these added lifetime expenses add up:

  • Extra money spent on personal care products: $132,000
  • Extra money spent on home ownership: $24,000
  • Extra money spent on feminine care products: $1,920
  • Extra money spent on clothing: $1,500
  • Extra money spent on beauty products: $300,000
  • Extra money spent on healthcare: $66,954
  • Total extra costs: $526,374

How To Avoid the Pink Tax

There are some cases where women will pay more than men and it may be unavoidable — namely, when it comes to purchasing feminine care products or taking on extra healthcare expenses. But under other circumstances, there are things women can do to avoid spending more than their male counterparts. Tammy Trenta, CFP, founder and CEO at Family Financial, recommends buying gender-neutral brands when possible to avoid the pink tax. She also shared some additional tips for saving money when shopping for personal care items and clothing:

  • Look at your bigger impact items. Paying 50 cents more for a deodorant might be annoying, but what if you could save $100 on a pair of shoes?
  • Separate wants versus needs. Focus on getting competitive pricing on your needs and perhaps find a cost-effective solution for wants.
  • Find coupons and research online.
  • Buy generic brands.
  • Buy in bulk.
  • Negotiate pricing when possible.
  • Rent [instead of] buying [special occasion clothing]. Women can rent to save on unnecessary clothing that might not be a part of their daily wardrobe.

GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest stats, women hold $72 billion in private wealth — but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to be investing and are more likely to have debt, and women are still being paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column will explore the reasons behind these inequities and provide solutions to change them. We believe financial equality begins with financial literacy, so we’re providing tools and tips for women, by women to take control of their money and help them live a richer life.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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