Women being profligate overspenders has been a running joke for decades, from Ricky scolding Lucy on “I Love Lucy” to hack comedians’ “women do be shoppin” gags and, now, the internet in-joke that women spend hundreds every time they go to a store, even if it’s just for one thing.
But as a parenting and career expert explained in a recent TikTok, there’s actually a reason so many women are high spenders and it has nothing to do with a love of shopping.
She explained why women spend $200 every time they go to Target for a single item.
For years now, the data showed that women spend more than men in basically every category of retail because products geared toward women tend to be priced higher. That’s certainly part of why women tend to spend more than men.
But as Paige Connell, a working mom of four, TikToker, and parenting and career expert explained in a recent video, there’s a lot more to women’s spending habits than mere costs, and it’s illustrative of the unequal burden women bear in household management.
She said women spend $200 every time they go to Target because they’re the ones buying everything their families need.
To illustrate why a simple trip to a store typically balloons into a hundred-dollar purchase, Paige “painted a picture” of a woman going to Target for a single item.
“All she needs is toothpaste,” Paige said, “but as she’s getting that toothpaste, she walks past the vitamin aisle and she sees the multivitamins for kids. And she remembers the kids are almost out of their vitamins. I’m gonna grab those while I’m here.”
The same thing happens as our hypothetical mom walks past the diapers and baby wipes, because “you can never have enough wipes and diapers because you can’t be without them.”
And again with some kids’ clothing the hypothetical mom realizes needs replacing, grocery items she realizes they’re low on, pet supplies she realizes they need — the list goes on and on, and before you know it, a tube of toothpaste turns into a $200 shopping trip.
Studies show women are nearly always the ones handling household decisions and purchases.
“There’s this ongoing list in women’s heads of all the things the family needs,” Paige went on to explain. “So this running joke that moms are just entering Target and throwing $200 out the window for fun is kind of tired.”
“What we know to be true is women are in charge of the purchasing power of a home,” Paige went on to say, and the data reveals that this is not only true but strikingly so, and not just in the U.S., either.
A 2019 Nielsen study showed that a staggering 89% of women worldwide “say they have shared or primary responsibility for daily shopping, household chores and food prep.” Because of this, “they’re also the primary purchaser for everyday household items,” the study went on to say.
Ultimately, women spending $200 every time they go to Target is another example of the unequal household burden between women and men.
“Guess what? That toothpaste wasn’t just for [her], right?” Paige said in reference to the single item our theoretical mom went to Target for in the first place. It’s also for her husband, just like everything else she bought while there.
The implication is that if she hadn’t picked up all those other necessary items, they wouldn’t have gotten picked up at all, a situation most wives and moms know all too well.
According to a UNESCO study, women worldwide provide 75% of the unpaid work required to run a household. That’s an average of four hours and 25 minutes a day compared to men’s one hour and 23 minutes.
Things are a bit better here in the U.S., where men average 2.8 hours per day to women’s 4.5. Still, that’s an enormous gap. And as if that doesn’t make the jokes unsavory enough, it turns out it’s actually men, not women, who spend more on frivolous “impulse buys.”
Roll it all together with hot-button issues like “weaponized incompetence” and it’s not hard to see why jokes about women supposedly spending like profligates rub so many wives and moms the wrong way.
“They’re probably buying things for you and your children because that’s what we’re typically spending our money on,” Paige said. “When you buy things for a family, it’s pretty expensive.”
It really is that simple.
John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.