Cliches abound about male and female spending habits. Despite gender stereotypes, how men and women spend money can provide insight into trends and patterns that have a broader economic impact on everyone.
Let’s look at male vs. female spending statistics to see how it all breaks down.
- Key takeaways
- Women spend almost $35 trillion on consumer goods
- Despite spending more on household expenses, women earn less than men
- Men are statistically as likely to splurge as women
- Men across all generations are likely to spend the most on a splurge
- Women are more likely to be the primary food shoppers
- Women are more likely to shop in person than online
- Women are responsible for most purchasing decisions
- Single men spend about half of what single women spend on apparel and services
- Men spend more on transportation
- Women spend more on healthcare
- Men spend more on entertainment, but women spend more on pets
- Single men spend more on leisure equipment
- Women spend over $600 more annually on housing than men
- Women have a higher time and financial burden than men
- Men spend more on alcohol and tobacco
- How to save money
- Bottom line
- Women drive the bulk of purchases and account for up to 80% of consumer spending.
- 78.2% of women are the primary grocery shoppers for their families.
- Women tend to spend more on personal care products, healthcare, housing, and transportation, while men spend more on new vehicles, tobacco, and alcohol.
- On average, men spend $3,434 monthly, while women spend $3,237.
Women spend almost $35 trillion on consumer goods
According to Capital One Shopping Research, women spend nearly $35 trillion globally on consumer goods, equivalent to 50% of worldwide consumer spending. American women tend to shop more than men, with 39.4% of women shopping on any given day, compared to 33.7% of men.
While women tend to shop more and for longer, averaging 58 minutes per shopping trip to a man’s 45 minutes, women are also more often shopping for the entire household. Eighty-nine percent of women are responsible for their household’s shopping, while only 41% of men claim that responsibility.
Source: Capital One Shopping Research
Despite spending more on household expenses, women earn less than men
According to Capital One Shopping, women spend more as a percentage of their total income after taxes on housing (46% compared to 36.2%), food at home (8.73% compared to 6.667%), and healthcare (10.6% compared to 6.62%), along with apparel (3.06% compared to 1.96%), education (1.71% compared to 1.36%) and personal care (1.69% compared to 0.59%).
Despite this, there is a gender pay gap. In 2023, women only make 83.7% compared to men, according to the Department of Labor. The disparity is even more significant for Black and Hispanic women.
Men are paid an average of $1,219 per week, while women are paid $1,002. In 29% of marriages in 2023 both spouses earn about the same, 55% of men outearn their wives, and 16% of women are the primary breadwinners for their families.
Source: Capital One Shopping Research, Department of Labor, Pew Research Center
Men are statistically as likely to splurge as women
Consumer research company Deloitte received more than 150,000 responses in their recent survey about splurges and found that men are just as likely as women to treat themselves in various categories. The survey also found that men spend almost 40% more, globally and in the U.S., than their female counterparts once they decide to splurge.
Men are more likely to splurge on food and beverages than women, and U.S. consumers in general are four times more likely to say a recent splurge was on food or a beverage rather than a personal care item.
Globally, men make up 57% of food and beverage splurges and spend 60% more than women when purchasing.
Men across all generations are likely to spend the most on a splurge
Deloitte’s survey found that gender spending broke down further across generational lines. Millennial men said they spent a median amount of $53 on at least one purchase in the last month to treat themselves, compared to millennial women who said they spent $32 during the same time frame.
Baby boomers had the closest median spending difference, with baby boomer men reporting they spent $26 in the last month on a splurge item and baby boomer women saying they spent $23. Overall, men reported spending a median amount of $39 compared to $28 for women.
Women are more likely to be the primary food shoppers
A majority of women (78.2%) reported that they were the primary food shoppers for their homes, according to Capital One Shopping Research. For women who are married or partnered but with no children, 68% of women are still likely to be the primary grocery shoppers.
Comparatively, just 23% of men in a partnership but with no children are likely to be the primary grocery shoppers.
This research aligns with findings from a survey conducted by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) that examined data gathered between 2017 and 2020. According to the NLM, in a home where a spouse or partner and children are present, 80% of women aged 25 and older do most of the grocery shopping, compared to only 38.73% to 43.20% of men, depending on age.
Source: Capital One Shopping Research, National Library of Medicine
Women are more likely to shop in person than online
According to Capital One, 65% of women surveyed prefer to shop in-store, while only 22% prefer using a brand’s app or website.
Comparatively, 60% of men prefer to shop in-store, while 24% say they would rather buy online. Of those 24%, only 20.8% of men prefer to use a brand’s mobile app or website to complete their purchase.
A Q2 2023 study of 1,000 U.S. consumers done by market analytics firm Jungle Scout showed that while Amazon is the most popular starting place for online shoppers overall, many men are more likely to start with social media platforms, with higher percentages of men than women starting with TikTok, Facebook, or YouTube when searching for a product.
Source: Capital One Shopping Research, Jungle Scout
Women are responsible for most purchasing decisions
According to Capital One Shopping, women are directly or indirectly responsible for 70% to 80% of all purchasing decisions. In 2021, single women were more likely to spend more on apparel and services than single men. Apparel and services are an average of 2.8% of a single woman’s spending compared to 2.0% of a single man’s spending. Single women are also more likely to spend more on healthcare, with it taking up 9.6% of a single woman’s spending compared to 6.9% of a single man's spending.
Source: Capital One Shopping Research
Single men spend about half of what single women spend on apparel and services
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Expenditure Survey of 2021, single men spent $398 on clothing and services (0.97% of total expenditures), compared to $671 for single women (1.73% of total).
Spending on footwear between men and women was closer, with single men spending $203 on shoes and single women spending $207, equalling 0.49% of a man’s total spending, compared to 0.53% of a woman’s.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Men spend more on transportation
In 2021, men spent an average of $2,797 net on vehicle purchases, compared to $1,637 spent by women, according to the BLS. Men generally spent more overall on vehicle maintenance ($673 compared to $523), insurance ($980 compared to $849), and gas ($1,227 compared to $813), among other transportation-related categories.
The only category where women spent about the same as men was public transportation, where women spent an average of $233 compared to men’s average of $231.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Women spend more on healthcare
Women spent an average of $3,747 on healthcare in 2021. $2,467 (or 65.83% of total healthcare expenditures) was spent on health insurance, while $711 (about 19%) was spent on medical services. Rounding out some of the most significant healthcare expenses for women were drugs ($426 or 11.36% of a woman’s total healthcare expenses) and medical supplies ($143 or 3.82%)
Comparatively, men spent $2,845 total on healthcare in 2021. According to the BLS, men spent an average of $1,954 on health insurance, or 68.3% of a man’s average total healthcare spending. Men also spent $524, or 18.4%, on medical services; an average of $270, or 9.5%, on drugs; and $97, or 3.4%, on medical supplies.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Men spend more on entertainment, but women spend more on pets
According to the 2021 Consumer Expenditure Survey conducted by BLS, men were more likely to spend more on entertainment purchases than women. Men also generally had more time to devote to leisure activities. According to a survey by The Economics Daily (TED), men spend an average of 5.82 hours a day on leisure activities, while women spend 5.14 hours.
The BLS defines the entertainment category of expenditures as fees and admissions (men spent $271 while women spent $205), audiovisual equipment and services (men spent an average of $792 and women spent $705), and pets, toys, hobbies, and playground equipment (men spent an average of $458, while women spent $643).
The only category under the entertainment heading where women spent more was on their pets, for an average of $575, compared to $357 for men.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Economics Daily
Single men spend more on leisure equipment
According to the BLS, single men spent an average of $675 in 2021 on other entertainment supplies, equipment, and services, which includes indoor exercise equipment, athletic shoes, bicycles, trailers, motorized RV purchases or rentals, boats, camping, hunting, and fishing equipment, as well as fireworks, pinball, and electronic video games, among other leisure expenses.
Single women spent an average of $141 in the same spending category.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Women spend over $600 more annually on housing than men
The BLS found that in 2021, women spent an average of $16,223 on housing, including the home or dwelling itself ($10,101, or 62.26% of their total housing costs), mortgage interest ($1,359 or 8.37%), property taxes ($1,533, or 9.44%), and maintenance, insurance, and upkeep ($1,795 or 11.06%).
Men spent, on average, $15,562 total for the same categories. Capital One Shopping Research found that women were twice as likely to be single homebuyers as men.
Despite the higher costs of owning a home for women, men pay more to rent housing. In 2021, men spent an average of $6,000 per person to rent a house or apartment. Women paid only $5,051 to rent housing.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Capital One Shopping Research
Women have a higher time and financial burden than men
A survey by the Pew Research Center suggests that while household financial contributions between men and women have become more equal in the last 50 years, women still carry a heavier burden at home. Women spend an average of 6.9 hours a week on caregiving compared to 5.1 for men and 4.6 hours a week on housework, compared to just 1.9 hours per week spent by men.
Women also bear more financial burden, being the primary grocery shoppers in households with children and spending more on food at home than men. In 2021, women spent an average of $3,080 on food at home, compared to $2,866 for men, although men spent more on food overall ($4,816 compared to $4,446).
Source: Pew Research Center, Bureau of Labor and Statistics
Men spend more on alcohol and tobacco
Single men also spent more than twice what single women spent on alcoholic beverages in 2021, with average expenses of $542 compared to women’s $257. Single men also spent more on tobacco products ($349 versus $166).
This makes sense since men tend to smoke more than women. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2021, nearly 12 out of every 100 adults used tobacco, with 13 out of every 100 men and 10 out of every 100 women smoking.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Centers for Disease Control
How to save money
Even if you’re pretty comfortable with how much you spend, you may still be looking for ways to save money and improve your money management. While you can try to maximize every penny and create complicated spreadsheets, you might see more significant strides by returning to some savings fundamentals and making small changes based on your current situation.
Consider some of the following when you want to save more:
Track your spending: Knowing how much you have going out every month can be a great way to find places where you may unintentionally overspend. As you find places in your budget where you can cut back, like on forgotten subscriptions or memberships, reducing your cable or phone bill, or cutting back on unnecessary grocery splurges, you could put that amount towards your savings goals.
Use a budget: If you’re figuring out how to manage your money, use a budget to help you figure out what’s coming in and going out. To help you ensure you’re prioritizing savings, use a budgeting method like 50/30/20 to help you cover your major expenses, save for the future, and still have some money to enjoy life right now. The best budgeting apps could help.
Pay yourself first: Your bills may get paid every month, but you still might wonder why you can never set aside anything in savings. When you get paid, deposit your predetermined savings amount into a high-yield savings account first, then pay your bills from the rest of your available funds. Prioritize building an emergency fund and retirement savings before you start saving for goals like travel or luxury items.
People, regardless of gender, spend money for many different reasons. While some spending does fall in line with gender stereotypes, for the most part people spend their money on their needs, priorities, and financial goals. Although women bear extra financial burden due to higher average expenses and lower average incomes, there are some categories where men wind up spending more.
If you want to save more for the future, prioritize paying yourself first and use a budget to help you monitor your income and expenses.