Being a woman in 2021 continues to offer difficulties, considering females still often earn less than men and sometimes have to spend more, too.
Women generally pay more for a number of consumer goods than men and it’s not simply a matter of having different shopping habits. There are, in fact, some items that women need that men don’t, including feminine hygiene products and in many cases, makeup.
Alternatively, there are many items that both men and women purchase but women are often charged more.
What Is the Pink Tax?
The pink tax refers to the practice of charging more for products that target women. These may include dry cleaning, personal care products and vehicle maintenance. There are a few explanations as to why the pink tax exists, including the fact that tariffs on clothing imports for women can be higher or that product design for female consumer goods is often more extensive.
How Much Does the Pink Tax Cost Women?
While estimates of how much women pay in pink taxes vary, it ranges from $1,350 or more per year in extra costs.1 Over the years there have been a number of studies dedicated to understanding the cost applied to women’s purchases throughout the country. Overall, women have been found to be paying more than men 42 percent of the time.2
Four Items Women Pay More for Than Men and How to Budget for Them
Item #1: Clothing
While it may be no surprise that women (as a group) are often more interested in fashion and in turn own more clothes than men, there are also a number of additional facts that go into making clothing items more expensive for women. Owning, and some may argue needing, more items in our closets than men contribute to a higher cost of fashion items. Additionally, women face higher prices of similar items as well as higher tariffs than men encounter as they shop.
You can save money by being strategic with your shopping. Taking a look through the men’s section for creative options can help your budget. Additionally, shopping second-hand at local thrift stores, consignment shops or online is not only great for your wallet but positively impacts your local community and economy as well.
Item #2: Personal Care
Women very often spend more for personal care items than men in part because they tend to use products and services that most men don’t, but also for products that both genders use, simply because of the pink tax.
Studies have shown that women are paying an average of 13 percent more than men for items such as razors, shampoo and lotion. When asked for the reasoning behind why these prices differ, it has been argued by manufacturers that women’s products often cost more to make, although the items tend to contain the same amount of active ingredients.3
Ignoring labels and opting for somewhat cheaper items can be the best way to avoid the pink tax on personal care items. Alternatively, don’t be afraid to purchase men’s razors to get the job done or even opt-out of social norms such as wearing a lot of makeup in order to budget properly.
Item #3: Long-Term Care
Long-term care insurance covers the cost of regular assistance people with disabilities or diseases may need to get through their daily activities. This insurance may even pay for the cost of a nursing home or in-home care.
A study conducted by Forbes uncovered that women have been consistently charged roughly 70 percent more than men for long-term care. In some cases, women have been quoted upwards of three times as much as their husbands’ same care.4
By shopping around for insurance and getting multiple quotes, sharing a policy or using a health savings account, you may be able to better manage the cost of your long-term care insurance.
Item #4: Auto Repair
We’ve all been there. You take your car to the mechanic and are genuinely surprised at the sudden cost associated with your regular tune-up. Because there is an assumption by many mechanics that women may be less informed about cars and vehicle repair, they all too often try to get away with overcharging their female clientele.
Forbes showed recently that gender-based pricing differences suddenly disappeared when clients stated how much they expected the repair to cost them. Once a customer revealed their level of vehicle understanding, the mechanics based their pricing on that, as opposed to gender.5
It truly does pay to be aware when taking your vehicle to a mechanic. If you understand what the cost of your repair should be prior to going in for a direct quote, you may be able to discuss the circumstances with a more confident upper hand. Being informed can help you save in the long run.
The Future of the Pink Tax
Unfortunately, some of the items that women pay more for than men will only change with time, or may never change at all. On the bright side, a number of costs related to being a woman are associated more with social norms than necessity. By making choices about the labels we purchase, what we wear, or a number of various life concepts, we can take control of how much we spend.
Taking into consideration the details of our purchases can mean the difference between remaining aware or continuing to buy into a tax that should be more equal if it’s even necessary to begin with.