As little girls, we learned that beauty comes at a price, and that price as we’ve discovered is called ‘pink tax’ – here is what you need to know:
Read more: What does 15% VAT mean for your budget?
What is ‘pink tax’:
‘Pink tax’ in layman terms is the tax or extra money women pay on unavoidable monthly expenses like basic toiletries, grooming products, medical screenings and even haircuts. If you look very closely to the items you buy in stores (razors, deodorant and even clothing), women’s items are most likely priced higher than men’s items under the same brand and shelf.
A new survey done by Sanlam revealed that 93.4% of women claim to spend over R100 on monthly toiletries, while only 76% of men claim that too. Even in less expected categories such as medical screenings and contraception, women are spending more.
South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni recently announced that a small victory for women and school girls is on the horizon.
In his medium-term budget policy speech in October, Mboweni revealed that South African consumers will no longer be paying the value added tax (VAT) of 15% on sanitary pads, starting from April 2019. This announcement comes after a student-led movement #BecauseWeBleed marched to SARS earlier in the month to have sanitary products made VAT free.
What do the stats say?
- 30% of women claim to spend over R1 500 per annum on medical whereas only 16% of men spend the same
- When it comes to contraceptives, 4% of women spend nothing, while 51,2% of women buy contraceptives monthly with 30% of them spending over R100 a month
- 65% of women spend over R200 for a haircut compared to 8% of men
So what does ‘pink tax’ mean for women?
Danelle van Heerde, Head of Advice Processes at Sanlam Personal Finance says, “To drastically oversimplify the situation, women are generally earning less and paying more.” But whether or not they are earning less, their monthly toiletry shopping costs more than that of men, and South African women are not taking this lightly as many have joined the #Axethepinktax global movement.
A gender pay gap tool based on the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Gender Gap Report, found that South African men earn about R6 607.25 more than women monthly. This equates to the sixth largest pay gap in Africa. The research pins multiple factors behind this, including the fact that women tend to work in industries with lower average pay and have commitments like childcare.
— European Wax Center (@EuropeanWax) April 4, 2018
“Now add to this the fact that women generally have to pay more than men for basic monthly necessities and one begins to perceive the full spectrum of challenges to women achieving financial independence,” says Van Heerde.
Read more: Investing for women – what you need to know
Spend less on ‘pink tax’ with mindful buying
Judy Liebenberg, franchise principal of Momentum Consult, is a mother of two teenage daughters who feels the pressure of ‘pink tax’ during her monthly budgeting. Here are her tips on buying smartly to avoid paying too much on pink tax:
- Do research before you buy products. Don’t just blindly purchase items. ‘I have been shaving with men razors for the past 10 years or longer, and it is cheaper!’
- Buy toiletries in bulk. Do proper planning and look for specials. Big keychain stores sell most of the self-care products in bulk and it works out much cheaper. Certain items like sanitary pads can be kept in the storage room for months. Team up with your mother, sister or friends and buy in bulk and share. Some shops even give you the buy two and get the third one for free option on some self-care products.
- Use stores that have some sort of rewards system in place. So that when you purchase your monthly necessities and beauty products you get rewarded. ‘At the end of each year, I have accumulated enough points to buy my make-up or perfume for the next 6 months.’
- Don’t be afraid to bargain with your salon. ‘I love doing my nails and that is my spoil to myself every month. I bargained with my nail technician and we agreed that if I pay her in advance for three months at a time (three sets of nails and gel toes) then she will do my toes for free on the fourth month. Now I save R220 at the salon I use. I have also suggested they start a rewards program at the salon from next year.’
- Try making your own beauty products. ‘I’ve researched how to make creams, foot scrubs and hair masks with products that I already have in my home. It costs a fraction of the price to make than I would pay for an item in the store.’
Read more: DIY beauty – how to make Almond Cream