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Let’s Settle the Debate: Does Life Cost More for Men or Women?

Researchers in California once discovered that women in that state annually pay around $1,351 more than men for basic services—adding up to about $15 billion a year nationwide. But discrimination in pricing works both ways: Men can get overcharged too. Here are seven occasions where it’s advantageous to be a man, or a woman.

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Car insurance costs more for: Men

When it comes to car insurance, men are better off saving money by switching their gender than they
are switching to GEICO. Women are generally offered better deals because they drive less and get in fewer accidents than men, who take greater risks behind the wheel and make up the vast majority of DUIs. In 2012, the FBI reported that 743,029 men were arrested for drunk driving, compared with just 244,195 women. (These health insurance secrets will shock you.)

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New cars and their parts cost more for: Women

Women, on the other hand, are often given a raw deal at the dealership and the repair shop. One study in Chicago found that new car dealerships asked white women to pay 40 percent more of a markup than white men, while black women were asked to pay upward of three times a white male’s markup. Similarly, auto-repair shops are prone to overcharge women, according to a 2012 report that surveyed 4,600 body shops. Women were quoted an average price of $406 to replace a car radiator, compared with the $383 their male counterparts were offered for the same service. Women who expressed limited knowledge of car-part pricing, in particular, were charged more than men with the same level of knowledge. You could be wasting money on your car and not even realize it.

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Beauty products cost more for: Women

In a recent article for, author Amanda Chatel tracked down several beauty products made by the same company—nearly identical for all intents and purposes—that are priced differently depending on whom they are marketed to. For example, Head & Shoulders makes an anti-dandruff two-in-one shampoo and conditioner for women priced at $10.99. A very similar product with an extra Old Spice kick for men costs only $7.99. Razors also charge women a markup: $9.49 for the rugged Gillette Mach3 HD Men’s Razor, $13.79 for the Gillette Venus Embrace. Want to spend less on beauty products? Try these secrets only stylists know.

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Nail salons cost more for: Men

On average, American men spend $37.14 for a single manicure compared with women’s $24.38. The reason? Businesses that charge more for men’s manis argue that male hands are generally larger and rougher, and take longer to manicure, than women’s. More labor and more product means higher prices (this same logic is why women’s haircuts can cost three times as much as men’s). These are 16 secrets your manicurist is keeping from you.

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Dry cleaning costs more for: Women

It’s common practice for dry cleaners to charge different prices for men’s and women’s clothing. The fight for gender equity at the dry cleaner has been spearheaded, in large part, by Janet Floyd, a cofounder of a market research firm in New York City and a starched-shirt owner. Floyd found that her local dry cleaner was charging $2 for men’s “shirts” and $6.50 for women’s “blouses,” insisting that the distinction in terms gave them the right to more than triple the price. New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs has stricter ordinances, at least: Prices can differentiate between shirts with and without ruffles, but not between “shirts” and “blouses.”

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Nightclubs and bars cost more for: Men

Bars that dish out “ladies’ nights” discounts for women and cover charges for men are participating in a decades-old American tradition, which has sparked some controversy. Some feminists have been skeptical of the practice—which, though it can help women financially, was implemented for the benefit of men—but it’s men, and men’s rights activists in particular, who are most vocally opposed to it. In 1998, for example, New Jersey resident David Gillespie filed a civil rights complaint against the Coastline Restaurant, which allowed women free entry (a savings of $5) and drink discounts on ladies’ night. Because of this, New Jersey outlawed ladies’ nights in 2004.

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Long-term care costs more for: Women

In 2013, several big insurance companies, including Genworth Financial, started charging women higher rates than men for the same long-term care. The insurance companies’ rationale? Women live longer than men and are presumably greater liabilities to potential profits. But it’s not just Genworth: A 2012 report by the National Women’s Law Center found that more than 90 percent of America’s bestselling health-care plans charge men less than women.