Consumer IQ

Girls Gone Shopping Wild

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Ever wondered why women have such large bags? Apparently, they are carrying all the cash for the household. OK, not literally, but ladies do 80 percent of the buying for any given home. It’s no surprise that marketers are leading the “Eve-olution” to woo their bucks, sometimes by tugging at their heart strings. Here are some simple things women spend money on that men don’t. Brace yourself:

1. Beauty products and treatments

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Women spend an average of $471 per year on personal care, while men spend less than half that, about $193, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s most recent survey. A trip to the drug store looking through “blue and pink lenses” tells the tale of how women spend their bucks.

Shaving cream for women
While men’s run-of-the-mill Barbasol costs $2.50, women’s cream starts at $3.29. Is there a secret femme treasure in that cream? The emollients are essentially the same, but the ladies stuff has some added fragrance and, in some cases, vitamins and even antioxidants-Necessary?
Instead: Use a decent moisturizer and skip the expensive stuff that’s full of flowery smells-and not much else that will stick with you.

Skin care products
Among the top sellers on drugstore.com this week: Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar antioxidant skin moisturizer ($38) and the Clairesonic skin care brush. No claims are made here about its efficacy, but the gentle sonic vibrations sent through your skin are apparently worth the $195 price tag to some.
Instead: Eat a healthy, fresh diet and exercise. Sweat is the original detoxifier for your skin.

Spa and beauty treatments
An eye-opening (no pun intended, Botox-ers) study of professional women conducted by the New York Times last year shows that to keep competitive in the work place, women perceived that they also needed to be well-groomed-it was a professional expense more than an aesthetic preference. Women sampled estimated that $3,500 a year on beauty treatments, from eyebrow shaping to hair straightening to hyperbaric chambers, was normal.
Instead: Sorry to say it – but numerous studies have shown that attractive people earn more. But the phenomenon mostly has to do with confidence — and not any physical attribute, according to experts.

2. Organic food

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International marketing studies have shown that women are more likely to buy organic food than men (though they’re also less likely to pay for organics if they aren’t a good deal). In one such study, women said they were motivated by a concern for the environment and for their personal health. Armed with this info, the marketers said they could zero in on women more and make the industry “more competitive.” Sounds great, right? This means women are taking the reigns, steering spending greens on green? Well, sometimes making a show of being sustainable and earth-friendly has trumped the actual cause.
Instead, savvy lady:
An organic strawberry that has traveled thousands of miles from China may not be the best thing for you-or the environment. Though calculating “food miles” can be complicated, the average piece of American produce travels 1300 to 2000 miles, so consider buying produce from a local farmer at a market. Also, that new organic jar of Prego spaghetti sauce has 470 mg of sodium in a half cup. Just because something hails as organic doesn’t mean that it’s better for you, by all means.

3.  Energy bars made “just for women”

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The energy bar market is certainly hot. Nestle threw its money into Powerbar and Kraft bought up Balance Bar for a reason. (Yes, your chocolate-y snack is healthy, love.) Powerbar’s Pria and the Luna bar would like the ladies to think that there’s a bar made just for them.
Instead: Experts say that the word “energy” on a bar simply means it has calories. You’re better off eating whole foods-fruits and vegetables, which have all of the intangibles and photochemicals that an engineered food source doesn’t. Also, if you take a multivitamin daily, you’ll get all of the recommended daily intakes that you need-and you’re body cannot absorb more of them anyway.

4. The Lottery

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So sorry to say it ladies (don’t know if you’ve got all the right numbers, if so I’m definitely behind you), but you spend more on the lottery than men do. One Texas Lottery poll, conducted by a state-run agency, found that women spend more: 54 to 46. With billions being spent on the lottery every year in the U.S., perhaps these times are calling for desperate measures.
Instead: Put the money in bank and forget about it. It’ll be there.

5. Pets

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Yes, they’re cute–and it’s so worth it–but pets can end up costing a ton, especially if you haven’t set out a clear plan about how you’re going to pay for all of those incidentals. (The average dog costs $730 per year.) And they DO come up. A demographic profile of a pet websites shows that the visitors are 82 percent female. Cuddly puppies come at a price.

6. Clothing

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A study conducted last May on international spending habits of people under 30 found that women and men spend their extra money in very different ways: 40% of women spend a majority of their money on clothing compared to just 12% of men. Ladies are willing to go for broke if they have something nice on while they are doing it.

Let’s lay the cliché that women are emotional spenders to rest. The numbers show that, despite women spending more on clothing and “personal care,” men spend more in many other categories, including alcoholic drinks, cars, eating out and-ahem-audio and visual equipment. (So says the Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent Consumer Expenditure Survey.)