Give Pink Tax The Boot
By Vanessa Papas
One thing we as women love to do is shop so it’s no wonder women are the world’s most powerful consumers. We are responsible for 70 to 80 percent of all consumer purchases through our own purchase or influence on others, yet, according to a survey by Sanlam, we are not reaping the benefits of such power. Instead, it appears that we may getting the short end of the stick. On average, women (globally) spend a whopping
R14 000 more each year than men do because of the pink tax. One of the key elements of the pink tax comes from the fact that companies market certain products for women by making them smaller and pink to make them look feminine. These products typically cost more than gender-neutral or male-targeted brands. Women can blatantly see the effects of the pink tax on four products and services: plus-size clothing, dry cleaning, feminine hygiene items and most imported items. Celeb Ellen DeGeneres has been very outspoken about pink tax. She even dedicated one of her shows to the topic and poked fun at a pink pen that cost double that of a ‘non-gendered’ pen, while Latina powerhouse Gina Rodriguez and Ashley Judd have also railed against the price gap.
Danelle van Heerde, head of Advice and Processes at Sanlam Personal Finance, says that if women used their purchasing power to vote with their feet where justified, they’d probably end the pink tax problem.
Here Are Danelle’s Six Hacks For Women To Beat Pink Tax:
Be mindful of pink tax: Do price comparisons for similar products in one store and then also between stores.
Check what goes into your basket: The size of products as well as what they cost. Don’t be misled by fancy packaging or smart marketing to overpay on the items you buy. If you’re paying more, make sure that there is a good reason for doing so.
Talk the talk: You may be perfectly clued up about what’s happening under the bonnet, but make sure the service provider quoting you to replace your head gasket knows you can’t be bamboozled. People are sometimes taken advantage of due to a perceived lack of knowledge of certain products. If you’re repairing or buying a car, for example, do some serious homework beforehand, and challenge prices you think are unjustifiable. Stick to what you need and ignore costly accessories and add-ons. Question the price difference when you suspect pink tax. As an example, if a man’s shirt costs less to dry-clean than a woman’s shirt, ask why. The same goes for a haircut. According to the survey, 65 percent of women spend R200+ for a haircut vs eight percent of men. Why should a simple trim for a man cost less than a simple trim for a woman? Sometimes there are good reasons for this, but by questioning cost disparities for the same products and services you help sensitise others to pink tax.
Plan for the future: Women tend to live longer than men, in general, which means you’ll need to save more for retirement. Manage pink tax by including it in your planning for the future, especially things like doctor visits and medical expenses. Involve a financial planner to assist you with your retirement planning and how you can save for the future.
Prepare for the worst: Have an emergency fund – an emergency fund is crucial. Leave this fund untouched until you need it. Ideally, it should only be accessed for medical emergencies and other unforeseen (and unavoidable) expenses. It should amount to between three to six months of salaries.
Have annual check-ups: Review your medical aid and gap cover. Over 30 percent of women spend R1 500+ per annum on medical screening vs only 16 percent of men. Keep track of your medical expenditure. Involve your financial planner or medical aid broker to compare schemes and their benefits to find the right scheme for you. Many schemes provide basic cover but others might include provision for screening tests. A cost comparison of what you spend vs the cost of an improved medical aid option can guide you to choose a suitable medical aid.
Be a role model: In tough economic times everyone struggles to make their budget work. Encourage yourself, as well as your friends, to plan better and shop wisely and take control of financial planning. Learn from other women and online resources. Do not hesitate to point out where you experience pink tax – make people aware of it. Prioritise your own finances, even when everything else seems more important. All too often as women we multi-task and prioritise others’ needs, putting our own on the back burner. Living longer and having to pay more on certain items means we need to plan, spend smart and budget to provide for our current and future financial needs, and a financial planner is the perfect companion in this journey.