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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

How the Pink Tax is ruining your finances

Have you ever actually sat down and worked out how much it costs to be a presentable, functional human being. There's clothes, hair, make-up, hygiene, the inevitable caffeine hit to get you through the morning. Sometime in the past some smart marketing gurus figured out that if they make us feel bad about ourselves the way we are, they can sell us products to 'fix' ourselves. 

And then they realised they could hit women twice as hard. 
Some women are enamored with hair, make-up, nice clothes, nice shoes and will go the whole nine yards every day, whether they leave the house or not. Let's start by saying I'm not one of them. My makeup in high school was black eyeliner (as thick as it could go) and my hair was permanently in a pony tail. Unless I had just cut it in a vague attempt to be stylish, then I was just wishing for it to grow back.

But even with my minimal approach to hair and makeup, I was endlessly frustrated with how expensive everything was. And not just that it was expensive, but that it was more expensive for me than my partner. I once rang every single hair dresser within walking distance (I was young, I didn't have a car) and checked their pricing. On average to get a haircut was $40+. I then asked them how much it would be to get a haircut if I was male. If you're ever bored and want to make someone extremely uncomfortable, call a hairdresser and ask that question.

Me: "Hi, just wondering how much for a haircut?"
Bored sales voice "$40 for a style cut and blow dry"
Me: "Okay thanks, and how much if I was a bloke"
Very baffled person "... excuse me...?" 
Me: "If I was male, how much would you charge me for a haircut?"
Extremely uncomfortable person "Oh, ermm, ahh. Mens cuts are $20"
Me, super chipper "Thanks! Have a nice day!"

It was half the price, just for being male, not just at one hairdresser, but consistently at every salon. This was when it was becoming quite common for women to have short hair (I like to call them 'Power Cuts') and men were having styled, sculpted hair. Without seeing me face to face there would have been no way for the person on the end of the phone to gauge the amount of time and effort my hair would cost, but because I was female they were willing to charge me significantly more.

The same ridiculous costing applies across the board, anywhere a product can be classed male or female. A quick search of my local supermarket tells me that a 4 pack of womens razor blades is $17.60, while the same brand, same style for men is only $15.35. Identical toys for children could be priced higher merely for being pink, without any other differences.

In a popular Mr. Money Mustache post, he talks about the Universal Men's Grooming Device. While I love this post and all it entails, it frustrates me as just another example of Pink Tax. He recommends that all men toss away their razor blades, immediately cease visiting a hairdresser and pick up an electric razor for under $100. With the right attachments, this razor can be used for both facial hair and head hair and lasts for years. Which is amazing, especially when haircuts are $25 a pop. Except it's amazing for men. Women tend to be frowned upon when sporting a buzzcut.

Now this might seem like an entire post on social justice and a fair bit on whining on my part, but no one said you had to purchase the female version of things. It's just a giant marketing scam to try and tell you that your poor delicate female self needs special products. The fact is that you don't.

My partner and I signed up to the Dollar Shave Club. For $7 a month we received a fancy 4-blade razor, with 4 cartridges. After six months we had to cancel our subscription because we had too many blades. Even though we were both using them. And I have to say, after years of going through different brands of 'soft and smooth' women's razors, this is the best shave I've ever had. No Pink Tax, much higher quality.

The same goes for the soap, shampoo, moisturisers and haircuts in this house. I might have said above that buzz cuts on women are frowned upon, and I'm not saying you have to take the plunge with me but I love my buzz cut. I bought the fanciest set of clippers I could get for $100 when they were 50% off during the post-Christmas sales. They've served me faithfully for over a year when I first had an undercut and later moved to a full buzz cut. Since both my partner and I use them we've easily saved over $300 in haircuts in the first year alone.

If you don't want to join me in the buzz cut club (although I think every woman should try it once! such a liberating time-saver) the internet is full of tips and tricks for cutting your own hair. Sure you might not be able to manage the fancy layering technique your hairdresser uses, but if your hair lives in a ponytail anyway, you aren't missing out on much. Or maybe you could team up with a friend and learn together. No pressure, but if you give your bestie a bad haircut, you know she'll be the next one wielding the scissors!

Leave a comment and let me know what you're sick of paying the Pink Tax on. What tricks do you have? And guys, do you find yourself paying more for anything because it's "For Men"?


  1. I admire you for going for a buzz cut! I cut my own hair for years, even rocked a self-cut at our wedding. But I have changed my hairstyle in the last 2 years and it's just not a style I could cut myself.
    I have been cutting Tristan's hair for about 5 years now so what we spend on my haircuts we do save on his, and I tend to only get mine cut twice a year. Hair maintenance is way too expensive!


    1. Hi Jasmin, thanks for stopping by! The buzzcut has been amazing for summer, although I'm worried about winter. Super impressed you rocked a self-cut for your wedding, that's the one time I would splash out. I have enough bad photos of me, don't need any from my wedding day.

  2. The same goes for clothes. For basics I always check the mens section (or boys as I'm petite) and it is almost always much cheaper.
    When I compared my regular ones to the equivalent mens version mine was actually cheaper when they were on special, which is when I buy them anyway, so no need to change luckily, but always worth doing the math.

    1. Clothes shopping for me is a nightmare. As a petite lady without much going on up top, ladies clothes are a bit, ermm.. spacious, for me! I find mens cuts in shirts a much nicer fit. Although I bought a pair of mens pants once, and they were too spacious in the front, but not enough in the back! Can't win!

      Sales are great, but they always throw my frugal maths out the door. What was a good deal suddenly becomes the expensive option week to week. I love it, but it keeps me on my toes.

      Did you find the 'ladies' option on special was cheaper than the 'mens' on special? Or was one on special and one not?

  3. I feel like men have an easier time. Like when it comes to home repairs or even car repairs. I feel like certain individuals try to take advantage since women are sometimes thought of as less experienced in certain areas so they can be charged more. My wife makes me do all the car stuff to ensure she's not taken advantage of which is somewhat sad.

    1. It is extremely frustrating! A friend and I were talking the other day about how people will talk past us and engage the men we have with us. It happened to me when I was buying my house (Mr. FIRE was there for moral support, I signed the contract) and it happened to her at a work-do when she was asking all the tough questions.

      Super frustrating, and a much bigger issue than I could fit into a comment, or even a blog post!


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