Do Women or Men Spend More Money?

by David Ning · 26 comments

Before you read the following piece, please answer this first – do you think women or men spend more money? Does the thirst to buy have anything to do with our sex orientation? What to do you think?

I used to wonder why some stores are successful without any decoration, while others spend a huge part of their budget on advertisements and image. Now I know. The former tailors to men, while the other tailors for women because women enjoy the shopping experience, while men just buy. Get in, get out.

In a study titled “Men Buy, Women Shop,” by Wharton’s Jay H. Baker Retail Initiative and the Verde Group, researchers found that women are much more likely going to respond to friendly sales associates, while men are more concerned with the availability of parking, whether the item is in stock or how many people are in the checkout line.

According to Ruth Hayden, the author of For Richer, Not Poorer: The Money Book for Couples, women have been taught to purchase for lifestyle and children, while men have been taught to invest in items that hold value. Another critical difference is that women tend to spend money gradually over time, while men spend them in big chunks. HDTVs, big cars, you name it, men like them. (We know this is true, but the points contradict themselves don’t they? If men likes their car so much, why do they hate having to wait for a parking spot?)

Women also tend to buy regardless of whether or not it’s a good long term investment. This can potentially become a huge risk for women as they age, because of the lack of investments at a young age (remember time grows money). Men’s biggest risk on the other hand is their egos. They need to brag about their possessions and how much money they’ve made in the market, so they end up chasing market performances and keeping up with the Jones much more than women.

Now there’s proof – Women love shopping. It’s not that men don’t spend though. In fact, we might spend even more if we can find that parking spot quickly.

Hey, I thought you might be interested in what others think (at least I am). So scroll a little more and type in your thoughts while reading what others have to say.

Readers have also correctly pointed out that your individual case may differ. Just because a “study” published these findings doesn’t mean that everyone is the same.

Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your monthly Internet and TV costs. Click here for the current AT&T DSL and U-VERSE promotion codes and promos and see if you can save more money every month from now on.

Related Posts

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Wes Y September 28, 2009 at 7:46 am

I find this article surprisingly middle of the road on this issue. As a male model, we are told, regardless of the product/article we’re promoting, to always try to appeal and sell to women. The reason? Everyone I’ve worked with has said that women are responsible for over 80% of the consumer dollars spent (I assume in the US only, but this might hold true elsewhere as well). If our ads can appeal to them, our product will sell more. With the exception of beer and pizza, and maybe a few truck or sports products, there is virtually NO advertising targeted specifically at men.

Reply

David@DINKS Finance September 28, 2009 at 8:36 am

“men spend them in big chunks. HDTVs, big cars, you name it, men like them”

I’ve found this to be GENERALLY true. I don’t spend a lot of money, but I do like to get the big-ticket items like a tv from time to time. I guess I agree with the points you made. But this is also not true for everyone, as some men love to shop and some women hate it. Guess it depends on the individual.

Reply

Nathi December 21, 2012 at 1:33 am

I want to second the point that says: Guess it depends on the individual. These things become habit to some people, but others are just not into it.

Reply

JK September 28, 2009 at 8:49 am

I found this post to be a bunch of offensive stereotypical hooey. I am much more frugal than my husband, I research long-term investments (while his eyes glaze over), and my husband does all the grocery shopping because he actually likes to do it. I generally DON’T.. Every PERSON is different.

Reply

MoneyNing September 28, 2009 at 9:27 am

Everyone is right. Individual cases can differ greatly. I didn’t mean to suggest that these findings and supposedly expert opinion is a “one-size-fit-all” fact.

Please read this post for entertaining purposes only.

Reply

Jane September 28, 2009 at 9:44 am

Hey David,
When you asked the first question,
do you think women or men spend more money?

Reply

MoneyNing September 28, 2009 at 9:58 am

Before I did any research on the topic and came up with the study and those expert opinions, I always thought that it was more broken down into age groups.

When we are all kids, it really doesn’t matter, but once we get into our teens, then women spend more money for makeup, clothes etc while the guys spend some money trying to get dates with the girls without much money left over for themselves.

As we age and get out of college, men start to spend some more money for themselves because of the increased purchasing power but still, a good percentage spend a sizable chunk of their earnings on trying to date women (paying for movies, dinners and gifts etc).

Then, as we start families and get older, the need for women to spend diminishes as they care more about the family than materialistic things like a hand bag, while men increase their spending as their income (and probably ego) increases.

So in summary, I always thought that women spend more in the earlier years and men spend more as they age.

That’s my subjective opinion based on people I know and it’s a generalization of course. The more important gauge of a person’s spending behavior is how frugal they were brought up to be and not so much the sex orientation. I just thought this subject was entertaining :)

Reply

Jane September 28, 2009 at 10:05 am

Oops. Sorry using a different computer.

Anyway, back to the question:

“do you think women or men spend more money?”

My thoughts went along the lines of your post. I remember reading a marketing book about the power of the women’s pocket book or something like that and they said about what Wes Y said, “that women are responsible for over 80% of the consumer dollars spent.” One of the reasons is that women tend to shop for the whole family, too. Also, it seems like guys like to buy big ticket items.

Reply

Financial Samurai September 28, 2009 at 11:20 am

I think a better question should be, “Do men or women spend a greater PERCENTAGE of their income on superfluous things?”

One man’s $50,000 purchase way outnumbers one woman’s purchase of even a Hermes Grace Kelley $7,000 hand bag + Manolo shoes for $600. Hence, I believe men spend way more than women.

My wife LOVES free stuff and spends next to nothing. I used to spend a lot, but have been influenced by my wife and also spend next to nothing. We enjoy the great outdoors, and hiking/biking are free to oh so cheap.

Reply

Shakela87 September 28, 2009 at 11:58 pm

There’s always an exception, but this one seems to hold enough truth. (Before anybody kills me I’m a feminist, really I am). I’m female and I hate shopping (except for books and computer stuff, very very bad habit yikes.) but I’m clearly in the minority. I just started working for a retail store and they discussed in the orientation point blank that everything is designed for women. Even the men’s department. Because guys just want to get in, get out, be done with it. Women shop. You see the evidence in the fitting rooms, men’s room a couple of pairs of jeans, maybe a t-shirt. Women’s fitting room will have two or three pairs of jeans in eight different styles, 5 or 6 t-shirts, and of course the shoes and purses to match, etc.

However, some of the money issue can also boil down to where the societal pressures lie. Women are judged more on appearance in this society. In general how many guys wear makeup or get their hair done by a specific hairstylist? And who does the shopping, if my mom buys my dad’s shirts, that number is still probably attributed to her spending even though the items are for my dad. I suspect some of this may change as gender roles become more fluid.

Reply

Kimberly February 16, 2011 at 8:02 am

you are not too much into the exception. I know more women who don’t like to shop than I know that do.

Reply

neal@wealthpilgrim.com September 29, 2009 at 3:24 am

First, congratulations David. You are much braver than I am for posting this one. My hat is off to you.

It seems like my wife spends more money but I think in reality, I am more prone to impulse purchases. She spends money on more day-to-day items. Some of it on things I wouldn’t buy but then again, I buy stuff she’d never consider.

My experience tells me, bottom line, women are better with money than men. Call me a chauvinist.

Reply

mewithoutdebt September 29, 2009 at 7:18 am

There are scientific (usually psychological) studies done on this and results are inconclusive at best.

Reply

Wilson Pon October 1, 2009 at 10:28 pm

David, talking about money spending, I’m agreed with you here, as my girlfriend is usually spending more money for her cosmetics and dressings, rather than the household appliances.

Reply

emily December 10, 2009 at 11:07 am

Women are frequent shopper, whereas men shop rarely. But when men shop their expense is huge , whereas for women their expense is less.

Reply

Sam April 8, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Not all women like shopping.

Reply

cookie August 9, 2010 at 11:44 am

THANK-YOU…. I hate shopping……..

Reply

Kimberly February 16, 2011 at 7:59 am

me too. and my mother hates it, my sister, several of my female co-workers, etc… I buy in bulk the necessary items so I don’t have to return for several months. I hate spending money, love saving and have to pay off all the debt my husband accumulates. :) I really think that the shopping gene depends on personality, preferences, and circumstance not gender. And of course your numbers are going to skewed towards women when you interview twice as many women than men. Also, men will NEVER admit that they like to browse, our society has deemed it as emasculating.

Reply

Ben April 14, 2010 at 9:51 am

This may be true for consumer products but and not for businesses, but I haven’t done the research. And remember, numbers and statistics with good attributions are better evidence then “more likely”. That could be a 1% difference or 50%, there’s no way of telling.

Reply

Linda October 13, 2010 at 2:56 pm

This post is rediculous. How are they defining shopping? Are we saying “Shopping” is when you purchase something just for yourself. If we define it that way who’s to say woman or men “shop” more? Let’s decide that we define “shopping” as spending money in general. Well who buys groceries, buys hubby and kid’s clothes, pays the bills, runs the errands etc. … women. Honestly how could women not get pegged as the “shopaholic”.

Reply

marilyn January 26, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Since you never actually answered the premise question–are we to assume women spend less (despite appearances), as you strongly suggest. That’s my answer. But then I think like a man–and also like a big, clear parking space right out front.

Reply

McKenna May 4, 2011 at 5:34 am

I don’t recognize myself or most of my friends in this post. Once when I put as my Facebook status that I wanted to “start a support group for Women Who Loathe Shopping But Still Don’t Want to to Look Like Hoboes” TONS of my female friends voiced their mutual loathing for shopping and desire for such a group.

As the wife in a partnership where I manage the money and scrutinize every purchase and where I was the one to urge buying a home and investing more in retirement. I could attribute this to being an arts professional and city-dwelling Gen-Xer and thus less gender-typical than older, suburban-dwelling people but it also doesn’t sound like my baby-boomer father and stepmother: He’s frugal enough but still buys big-ticket items like trips and machinery while my stepmother’s entertainment consists of checking out library books. That said, I “spend” more money because I work shorter hours and thus take on both money management and most of the family shopping.

I don’t understand this brief post — it’s filled with essentially no data or studies to support what amounts to the writer’s unoriginal and not very deeply-thought-out opinion.

Reply

autum June 4, 2011 at 8:45 am

My husband spends while I save. He’ll buy fishing and hunting license though he’ll only use it maybe 3 times a year, but not hunt. He won’t bring fish home even though I like fish, but he’ll tell me to go buy fish, yet he tells me to clip coupons. I spend but I wait for sales and buy for the family things we’ll use. It is stressful when we don’t share this need to save.

Reply

Persepone September 6, 2012 at 8:19 am

I worked for many years (1960s-2010) in jobs where all the other workers were men and I listened to endless comments about how the men’s wives “spent all their money.” I used to qustion them about what exactly the women spent their money on and generally they admitted that the answer was “groceries,” “school supplies,” sports equipment/lessons/clothing/medical care, etc. for their children (and sometimes for the husband’s children from a former marriage–not the wife’s children), items for the house, house repairs (e.g., plumbers, electricians, etc.) and I realize that almost all these studies are flawed because they turn on some notion that somehow these things are for the sole benefit and enjoyment of the “woman.”

Now my contemporaries are retiring or scaling back and for their first time they are in the stores with their wives. They are simply amazed that hamburger is no longer $1.29/pound, that even on sale a t-bone steak is $5.99/lb., and that a package of crackers is $3.00.
My advice to women (especially youngish ones) is to make “lists” not only for the grocery store, but also for school clothes, school supplies, household stuff, etc. and insist that your husband do enough of the shopping on an on-going basis so that he sees the actual prices and understands the trade-offs, etc. If you have 7 days worth of meals on that shopping list and a budgeted amount, he will quickly understand (especially after a couple of seemingly insigificant “impulse buys”) that, no you are not “spending his money” but spending for the family and that you are pretty frugal about it. It helps if you have a stock of coupons so that he has to hunt for the right stuff. At the end of the day, though, he needs to come home with ingredients for 7 days worth of meals…

Make sure that he gets to shop for clothing with children. He gets to listen to Wal-Mart vs. Old Navy. He also needs to understand that his kids won’t wear certain items or the school won’t allow them, etc. etc. Don’t forget to include any of “his” clothing that you buy–underpants, socks, etc.

In the end, if nothing else, you’ll stop hearing about what a spendthrift you are. Sheesh! You’d think, listening to him, that you were out buying designer handbags and diamonds! What you are really doing is fixing his favorite meal for dinner on Friday night….

Reply

McKenna September 6, 2012 at 8:41 am

Excellent response (and much better than my scattershot one above). What men in traditional relationships often are saying when they say that their wives spend too much money is “she does the tedious errands for our mutual benefit that require laying out funds. When I see the total on the receipt I get to gripe about it while having no idea what went into the actual purchasing thought process.”

I often take over the grocery shopping because when I do, the final bills are so much lower than when my husband goes. But at least I’m glad to be in a more equal partnership where my husband does do some of the shopping so he has a clue of what our home needs and what things cost.

Reply

Joe American January 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Just look at any mall, strip mall, etc. Almost all the stores are targeting women exclusively as customers. Many of these items are for the sole benefit and enjoyment of women. There is no real argument on this, it is very self evident. To argue anything else is like trying to convince everyone the sun is not warm. Advertizing is much the same. Randomly turn on the TV and make a random channel choice. Most adds target women, most adds put men down and make men look like bumbling idiots. Mass media retail sales understand the high value of stroking women’s egos. It is impossible not to see this. Of coarse personal experience will say the same. I have not known of any case where women were not spendthrifts. Every guy I know of has been made much poorer once a woman is in the picture. There are exceptions to this but they are not the norm. Sometimes guys are very industrious and overcome the financial drag. Few guys understand political correctness is not about morality, it’s about group mentality, and much of the axioms that are perpetuated under the banner of political correctness are themselves immoral and in many cases self-contradictory.

Reply

Leave a Comment