Young Women May Be More Likely to Get into Debt Because of Work Expenses

By April Lewis-Parks

Women trying to build their careers are more likely than their male counterparts to incur debt, according to a new analysis by ConsolidatedCredit.org the nation’s foremost national non-profit debt counseling organization.

Looking at the financial records of more than 40,000 Consolidated Credit customers nationwide revealed a pattern: that single women 18-25 seek help in greater numbers than single men in the same demographic group. A further look at the records shows that one of the reasons for the disparity is the amount women spend on clothing and personal care items.

A man starting out can get away with a smaller and less costly wardrobe. Women simply need more to climb the corporate ladder. There are certain expenses that can be shared, such as household expenses, but a woman needs her own wardrobe.

Government surveys bear this out. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average single man spends $917 annually on clothes and another $192 on personal care items. Single women, however, spend an average of $1,108 on clothing annually and $508 on personal care products.

There’s more reason for the female debt. Women still earn less than men. According to the United States BLS, although women have made great strides equalizing pay disparity, the average woman earned 77% of what men earned in 2007, up from 57% in 1979. Further, a woman under 25 earns nearly $1 less per hour than a man of the same age. “When someone earns less and spends more, then the outcome will be debt,” said Consolidated Credit President Gary Herman.

However, it isn’t just spending on clothing and personal items that are different by gender. The average single male spends $1,689 annually eating at home and $1,873 eating out. A single woman spends $1,844 eating home and $1207 eating out.

Other gender-based spending characteristics from the BLS were:

• Single women spend less on gifts – an average of $856 versus $883 annually for single men.
• Single women spend an average of $1,293 on entertainment, compared to $1,1669 for men.

About the Author

The following blog post is from April Lewis-Parks, the director of education for Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc. She is a certified credit counselor and a consumer affairs advocate who is dedicated to generating awareness about personal finance issues. She is on the education advisory committee of the JumpStart Coalition, which is dedicated to furthering financial literacy for the youth and she is active in the South Florida chapter of Junior Achievement which promotes entrepreneurship and financial literacy through hands-on programs.