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How to avoid paying the pink tax on clothes, toys and other everyday items

Amrita Maharaj-Dube faces a common dilemma when shopping with her five-year-old daughter. The allure of pink and sparkly items is undeniable, but the hefty price tag that often accompanies such products makes her reconsider. This predicament is part of a larger issue known as the "pink tax," where products marketed towards women and girls tend to cost more than their male-targeted counterparts.

The term "pink tax" emerged in the 1970s to describe the pricing disparity between men's and women's products. While some progress has been made in recent years, with companies adjusting prices and certain jurisdictions eliminating taxes on essential health products, the issue persists. Razors, shampoos, and even children's clothes are among the products affected, leaving consumers searching for ways to navigate this pricing imbalance.

Janine Rogan, a chartered professional accountant and author of "The Pink Tax," highlights how the pink tax extends beyond specific items like razors. Despite improvements in some areas, corporations and marketers continue to find ways to increase prices for products aimed at women and girls, such as shampoos and lotions.

For parents like Maharaj-Dube, finding budget-friendly alternatives becomes crucial. Opting for gender-neutral colors in children's clothing and exploring second-hand options through thrift stores or local community groups can help mitigate the impact of the pink tax on the family budget.

Maharaj-Dube acknowledges that her cost-saving choices might disappoint her daughter, but she has found a solution that satisfies both her bank account and her child's desire for pink and sparkly items. Thrifting and community exchanges provide affordable alternatives in a time when many families are feeling the economic pinch.

The pink tax isn't limited to tangible goods; it extends into the realm of personal care and beauty products. Samantha Sykes, a senior investment adviser, points out that skincare products marketed towards women often come with a higher price tag than their male counterparts. In response, some women are turning to do-it-yourself skincare solutions, such as at-home turmeric or Greek yogurt face masks, to avoid the expenses associated with elaborate skincare routines.

Sykes also emphasizes the long-term financial implications of the pink tax, particularly for women entering retirement. Fixed incomes limit available funds, and the cumulative effects of higher prices for dry cleaning, haircuts, cosmetics, toiletries, and even entertainment contribute to the erosion of retirement savings. Awareness of these financial challenges is crucial, and Sykes encourages women to make informed choices, even if it means forgoing certain products or services that come with a higher price tag.

In navigating the pink tax, practical tips emerge, such as shopping from the men's section for certain products or seeking alternatives like visiting a dermatologist for skincare products. The key is to empower consumers, particularly women, to make informed choices and be conscious of the economic impact of the pink tax on their finances, both in the present and during retirement.