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Do Women Spend More Money Than Men?

It is an interesting concept to consider. Who spends more money? Women or men? There are many gender stereotypes at play here that may influence your initial idea of which sex spends more money overall. Women are seen as "addicted to shopping." Many people assume that women love to spend a Sunday afternoon at the mall, picking out a new outfit or purse, while men couldn't think of anything they would despise more. Men, on the other hand, are seen as egotistical, needing to flaunt their wealth by purchasing outrageously expensive items, from fancy cars to gleaming watches.

There are also stereotypes that classify women as worse with finances, unable to save and invest wisely, while men are the "bread winners" and have a better understanding of finances. This is a culture that has been engrained into the fabric of our society for centuries, but has been shifting in recent years as women's role in the workplace is advancing, while traditional stereotypes of the "stay-at-home mom" are being dismantled with each passing year.

But the question remains; who really spends more? Men or Women? And on what? Let's check out some of the findings:

Impulse Purchases

We've all had that moment of weakness. You pass by a storefront, with no intention of making any purchases at all, when suddenly something catches your eye and you just have to have it. Humans are oftentimes impulsive by our very nature, and we can't always help but buy what we think we want, and buy it on a whim.

According to a survey done in late 2014, three of four adults in the United States make impulse purchases. When it comes to which gender is making the impulse purchase, the number of purchases are actually split almost right down the middle. But the money spent on these impulse purchases are not.

The survey showed that just seven percent of female impulse buyers have made a purchase on a whim of over $500. But 21 percent of male impulse buyers have made a purchase of over $500. That means men are three times as likely to spend a large amount of money on a moment's notice than women. The study also showed that men are twice as likely to make an impulse purchase than women when they are intoxicated.

Related Article: Are You Having These Money Arguments with Your Partner?

Differences in Spending Habits

Unsurprisingly, men and women tend to spend their money on different products. Statistics from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that men are more likely to spend money on food, and are still typically charged with the task of footing the bill for a date. Women, on the other hand, tend to spend more on personal care and grooming items than men do.

The spending gaps in certain categories is fairly wide. When the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau compiled statistics on spending habits of single men and women in the United States, they found the following:

- Men spend $507 on alcohol per year, while women spend $216.

- Women spend $524 on personal and grooming products per year, while men spend $194.

- Men spend $1,545 on entertainment such as movies and plays per year, while women spend $1,432.

- Men spend $3,916 on food per year, while women spend $3,241.

From these statistics, it is easy to tell that the average single male spends a greater amount of money than the average single female. While entertainment costs are relatively close, and women spend more on personal products, men are spending a far greater amount on food per year, and over twice as much on alcohol.

This reflects the fact that certain societal stereotypes are still in place, and are still affecting our spending habits. The wide gap in food and alcohol spending reflects the notion that the onus is on the male to court the female in a dating scenario. As much of a stereotype as it is, men are typically the ones who will buy women drinks at a bar, in hopes of opening a dialogue with a woman. Men are also expected to pay for dates, especially the first date, which accounts for the gap in food spending.

A study done by NerdWallet in 2014 shows that among 1,000 people in committed relationships, a whopping 77.4 percent of them believe that men should pay entirely for the first date.

These spending habits carry through to household bills as well. According to the same survey done by NerdWallet, 35.9 percent of men in a committed relationship pay 100% of household bills, while just 14.3 percent of women pay all of them. Just over a third of those surveyed said that they split the bills evenly with their partner.

Related Article: Are You Making These Stupid Shopping Mistakes?


While women do spend more money in certain areas of the economy, it appears that men are spending more money annually on aggregate. This isn't entirely surprising, as we are still working to shake gender roles and stereotypes that place men as the breadwinners and women as their subordinates.

The spending gap is also not that surprising considering that equal pay for equal work is still a relatively new concept in the course of American history. One would expect that the next few generations will shake loose some of the traditional stereotypes about men and women's role in a relationship, both with courting and handling bills. Combine this with women's recent rise to prominence in the workplace, and expect the spending numbers of the two genders to close rapidly over the coming years. It's not a matter of if, but when.

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Yael Kent's picture

Yael Kent is a personal finance enthusiast with experience writing about credit cards, credit repair, debt, and more. In addition to being an editor at Creditnet, she has been featured on Yahoo Finance, Reuters, and other financial sites.

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