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Debt.com » Read My Lips: Inflation Hurts Women More Than Men

Read My Lips: Inflation Hurts Women More Than Men


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I love parties. Bigger isn’t better, but more elegant certainly is. Of course, that means I need a new dress each time, which isn’t cheap. Meanwhile, every date and every husband I’ve dragged to these parties wears the same suit he’s had stashed in the back of his closet, sometimes for decades.

That’s no great revelation to any woman who’s been married for a minute. Their husband only wears a new suit when their wife buys them one. But I mention it because it’s Exhibit A for this simple fact: Inflation hurts women more than men. Mostly because we need to buy more stuff to stay socially acceptable. It’s not fair, and I don’t like it, but I also don’t make the rules.

The Lipstick Index

Here’s what made me think about this: Debt.com did a provocative study and asked me to comment on “the link between increased cosmetics spending and the troubled economy.” Basically, Debt.com looked at the cost of cosmetics and compared it to the risk of a recession. It’s not as silly as it sounds.

Back in 2001, the chairman of Estee Lauder noticed something interesting: He sold more makeup when economic times were terrible. That sounds backwards, right? Wouldn’t women cut back on makeup if they were facing a recession?

Turns out no.

That chairman, Leonard Lauder, guessed that women were really cutting back on clothes and shoes. They bought more makeup to literally “make up” the difference in their appearance.

Debt.com polled 1,000 beauty-product buyers, and more than 6 in 10 called makeup “an affordable luxury.” That might be why more than 7 in 10 will also give cosmetics as gifts this holiday season.

When Debt.com asked me what I thought of these and other results, I replied…

I know from firsthand experience that fast, flashy content, FOMO, and worrying about other people’s business can cause you a lot of heartbreak. Unfortunately, it can also break your bank account. This holiday season, count your blessings before you cross items off your gift list. This will help you put the important things into perspective, like financial wellness.

Here’s what I didn’t say, because it didn’t really fit at the time…

Women need to think about inflation, recession, and holiday shopping differently than men do. Men can get away with spending less. Women can’t. If men cut back this holiday season, both men and women will forgive them. If women cut back, both men and women will blame them.

Women vs. men vs. money

Earlier this year, there was a great story with this headline: “Here’s Why Women Spend $526K More Than Men Over Their Lifetimes.”

Again, it’s nothing most women don’t already know: Even when women buy the same products that men do, they cost more. That goes for small items (“women’s shampoo costs around $9 while men’s shampoo costs close to $6”) and major ones (“single women pay 2% more than single men when buying homes, and sell their homes for 2% less”).

And don’t get me started on clothes. There’s no reason a woman’s plain Gap T-shirt costs $22 and a man’s plain Gap T-shirt costs $15.

Then, of course, there are the expenses men can avoid entirely. From feminine care products to beauty supplies, we have whole categories of expenses we need to account for.

So next year, I’m going to ask Debt.com to do a follow-up study: The Jockstrap Index!

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