Our newest column to LJ Investment Research, Money, Men & Mommies by Jessica Coffey, combines our three favorite loves; money, men and being a mom. Ask any group of women what they talk about most often and you’ll hear one of these three answers. Each month you can expect to read about the financial escapades women go through and get tips on how to best solve them. You’ll find out how to pay less, love more and enjoy life! Hope you enjoy our newest addition…
Being female: A Pre-existing Condition
Being a woman is expensive! We’ve been saying this for years but now we have the proof to back our claims. Despite laws meant to prevent companies from charging one gender more than the other for the same product or service, we are still paying more for everything. The kick in the ass is that we do it all while making less money than our male counterparts.
Last month a report by the National Women’s Law Center showed that insurance companies are one of the biggest offenders when it comes to charging women more than men for the same service. Insurance companies have reportedly been charging women $1 billion more each year than men for the same health coverage. In fact, a non-smoking woman is charged more than a chain-smoking male for the same individual health plan.
Insurance companies try to justify their higher premiums for women by saying women use more services, we go for more regular check-ups, get prescribed more medication, etc. Aren’t these services preventative so we can be healthier and cost less money later in life? Does anyone else see how backwards this thinking is?
The injustice continues at the dry cleaners. A woman’s “blouse” costs about three times as much at the dry cleaners as a man’s “shirt” does. Excuse me, but when did a blouse and a shirt become two different things? Store owners justify the higher price saying women’s blouses don’t fit on their presses and therefore require more care. Well I would believe it if all of my wide shouldered and plus sized friends out there whose blouses DO fit these man-sized presses were raving about how much money they save at the dry cleaners. Alas, no such comments have ever been made.
Should I even mention how much more we pay for haircuts than our male counterparts? The last time I checked my hair was made out of the same fibers and keratin that my husband’s hair is, but I pay $60 and he pays $20. Go figure.
The worst offenses seem to occur at the drug store. So many of our favorite bathroom products would cost less if only we peed standing up. Take for instance razors. There has been no significant breakthrough in the arena of razors for decades now (adding more blades does not count as revolutionary Gillette!). Yet companies feel the need to charge women more than men for the exact same product.
Deodorant companies are running the same scheme. A study done at the University of Central Florida found that on average, women’s deodorant costs 30 cents more per ounce than men’s, even when the only difference between the products was the smell. These companies have us convinced that our sweat is so different from a man’s that we need to pay more money for it.
The worst part of this gender pricing gap is that it extends beyond the trivial, to big important purchases like cars and homes. On average, a man pays less for a car than a woman. A white woman pays about $200 more for a car than a white man would, and a black woman pays an astronomical $400 more. In the case of housing, the Consumer Federation of America found in 2006 that women were 32 percent more likely to get high-interest subprime loans than men, even if they had a better credit score than their male counterparts.
Experts will tell you we pay more for things like cars and houses because of the way we shop. In comparison to men, women were more likely to take recommendations from their friends and via word of mouth. Experts also agree that women don’t negotiate as much as men do, thus the pricing differences.
In light of all of this, don’t fret. It seems the solution to higher prices is to shop around. Get several quotes for large purchases like health insurance, mortgage rates, and cars. And next time you’re at the drug store skip the female aisle, and head over to where they sell men’s shampoos, razors and deodorant. Buy deodorant that’s strong enough for a man and cheap enough for a woman.
Disclaimer All materials in this article are provided as opinion only and may not be construed as personalized investment instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate investment professionals and perform proper due diligence. All securities trading, whether in stocks, options, or other investment vehicles, is speculative in nature and involves substantial risk of loss. We encourage our readers to invest carefully and to utilize the information available at the websites of the Securities and Exchange Commission at http://www.sec.gov and the National Association of Securities Dealers at http://www.nasd.com. This article should be viewed as opinion only, and no financial decisions of any kind should be made based on the opinions presented in this piece. LJ Investment Research is not a registered broker/dealer and does not purport to provide any analysis of any company’s financial position, operations or prospects and should not be construed as a recommendation or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any security. LJ Investment Research