Do Women Spend More Than Men? Myths about Women and Money (Part I)

By
Shari Rash
February 17, 2021
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Women and spending: do women spend more than men?

If you said yes, you are not alone! In fact most women may agree that they do spend more.

  • 74.9% of women identified themselves as the primary shoppers for their households*

This myth is actually true, kind of. The part I am debunking is the negative connotation that comes along with spending.

Women generally run their households and make the purchases for their households. Women are most likely to shoulder the responsibility for things like household purchases, grocery shopping and meal preparation.  Since shopping online is now the norm, the Amazon Prime van visits my house multiple times a week. All my neighbors see are piles of boxes. Their imaginations likely run wild with what can be in them: new clothes for me and the kids, décor for the house and more. The reality is that those boxes are holding toilet paper, dishwasher detergent and sippy cups.

If there is spending to be done, we are the ones to do it!

Myth #1: Women spend more than men.

I sometimes like to play a game with my husband: “How much does this cost?” I will name random items that our household consumes regularly: gallon of milk, loaf of bread, chicken breast, and make my husband guess the price. Not surprisingly, he is stuck in the past and is using early 2000’s pricing when he guesses. Hello, inflation?!

Why is that? Because in the aughts he was single and the purchaser for himself. Ever since he met me and we got married, I have relieved him of the everyday shopping.

I’m sure this sounds familiar for most women who took over the shopping for their spouse.

Women make up more than half of the U.S. population, and control or influence 85% of consumer spending. (Source, Forbes)

The purchases women make drive our economy. Women can also hold the keys to a brand or product’s success. Millennial women are price conscious and purpose driven consumers: 88% say customer ratings influence their purchase decisions, 57% say a brand’s values influence their purchase decisions**

Women and Spending: Spending Habits of Men vs Women

Just like Men and Women think about money differently, generally speaking, we also spend money differently.

Women are more selective in their purchases than men, they read reviews, ask for recommendations from peers and are willing to spend more time to find quality products that fit what they are looking for. Men tend to be more decisive, when they find a product that checks most of the boxes, they buy it.

Women are increasingly invested in the quality of the items they buy and how well they fit their lifestyle. convenience is a high priority in women’s spending habits and something they seek out in their everyday lives. 55 percent of women in the US say they would temporarily stop shopping at a brand or retailer who released an offensive product. [Source: First Insight]

It probably also doesn’t come to a surprise that men also prefer to get in and out of the store and quickly as possible where women like to peruse and enjoy the process of shopping.

Women and Spending

Women and Spending: Spending Habits of Men vs. Women.

Just like men and women think about money differently, generally speaking, we also spend money differently.

Women are more selective in their purchases than men, they read reviews, ask for recommendations from peers and are willing to spend more time to find quality products that fit what they are looking for. Men tend to be more decisive, when they find a product that checks most of the boxes, they buy it.

Women are increasingly invested in the quality of the items they buy and how well they fit their lifestyle. convenience is a high priority in women’s spending habits and something they seek out in their everyday lives. 55 percent of women in the US say they would temporarily stop shopping at a brand or retailer who released an offensive product. [Source: First Insight]

It probably also doesn’t come to a surprise that men also prefer to get in and out of the store and quickly as possible where women like to peruse and enjoy the process of shopping.

Women and Spending Habits: What are Women Buying?

Given that women do most of the shopping for their household, it makes sense that women are doing most of the grocery shopping. I put a caveat in though, who is eating the food women are buying? And who is wearing (some) of the clothes women are purchasing? Men. So even though women spend more on food and clothing, who is the end user of the purchased item?

Women also spend a lot of money on beauty products. Makeup and skin care rituals aren’t part of everyone’s routine, but for many women it is, and its not cheap. In fact, Women who spend money on their appearance will spend roughly $225,360 in a lifetime. [Source: OnePoll] When it comes to beauty-based purchases, women spend the most on facials, haircuts, makeup, manicures and pedicures. [Source: OnePoll]

When working with my clients during the Financial Foundations process, we look at spending. My goal is not to have my clients create a strict budget and adhere to it, but instead understand where their money is going and is that a necessity. I tell everyone the same thing, I am not going to judge what is or is not a necessity. Netflix can be a necessity for some.

I also share that for me, getting my hair cut and highlighted every six weeks is a necessity. When my hair looks good, I feel good, I’m in a better mood, stand a little taller and improve my quality of life. If someone ever told me I needed to cut that expense out because it costs “too much” I would tell them what they can do with that idea (nicely, of course).

Do my 8.6 visits a year to my hairdresser at $150ish a pop add up? Yup. Am I going to stop? Nope.

I just need to factor that into my spending strategy.

34 percent of women spent $26 – $50 on beauty and personal care products per month in 2017. [Source: Statista]

Women and Spending Habits: Clothing and Travel

Clothing and travel round out the top items a women spend the most money on. When it comes to travel, Girls trips, Solo travel or family vacations women are traveling more than in years past.  

  • Women were expected to spend $125 billion on travel in 2020. [Source: The Wandering RV]
  • Online shopping has made buying clothes even easier for women, even though it has always been a large category spend.
  • Women in the US spent an average of $704 on clothing in 2019. [Source: Statista]
  • On average, the clothes in a woman’s wardrobe equal between $1,000 and $2,500. [Source: CreditDonkey]
  • Women who are 16 and older spend an average of 76 percent more on clothing than men every year. [Source: CreditDonkey]

To be honest, the $704 statistic has me rethinking a lot of things, as I may be single handedly swaying the average higher.

Clothing is not a one and done event. Trends change, body shapes and sizes change (thanks, kids) and even the types of clothing you wear changes as your life changes. Hello yoga pants during Covid quarantine! That means a woman’s closet needs to change.  Every three months, 73 percent of women refresh one quarter of their closet. [Source: CreditDonkey]

Or how about job changes? I went from a job where it was expected that I wear a business suit everyday to a casual environment where I wear whatever I’d like. (Remember, I’m the anti-advisor (link), no fancy suits and flashy cars here, jeans, t-shirts and a minivan all day) 25% of my closet is full of beautiful suits that I will likely never wear again but don’t have the heart to get rid of. I’m actually right in line with this statistic (which may not be a good thing): Over half of women estimate that 25 percent of their wardrobe goes unworn. [Source: CreditDonkey]

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