The Black Woman Tax: When We’re Charged More (And What You Can Do About It)

February 23, 2016  |  
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We all know that not all prices are created equal. With that being said, it’s important to know when to accept the sticker price and when to hone your haggling skills. And sometimes that “when” has a lot to do with whether or not you’re a minority or a woman.

Under the Obama administration, lots of consumer scientists have been looking into racism and sexism as it pertains to pricing. And what they’ve found in some industries is shocking: Women and minorities can pay up to double the amount that their White and male counterparts do. From insurance premiums to the water that comes out of our taps, some of us are footing a large amount of the bill for the most basic of things.

Luckily, that doesn’t have to be the case if you know more than the average consumer. The next time you buy one of the items on this list, know that you can avoid paying more by trying one of the following methods.

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Health Insurance

Did you know that most insurance plans charge women up to 15 percent more? That can amount to hundreds more per year.

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The Solution? ObamaCare

The Affordable Care Act has brought reasonable health care prices to everyone, but women especially.

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Homes

If you’re Black or Hispanic, you might not be getting market value. A Duke University study from 2013 found that minority homeowners pay around 4 percent more for homes than White buyers.

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The Solution? Take Control

Knowing the market before you enter it (and looking on your own) can help you escape realtor bias and high offers that can be countered down.

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Auto Repair

You’re not just imagining things. This study found that when mechanics see a woman walk through the door, they’re already thinking of ways to add zeros to whatever service she’s coming in for.

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The Solution? Set A Price

Why do mechanics charge women more? Because they think they’ll accept any price. But studies show that when customers suggested their own prices (whether they were fair or too low), mechanics counted with reasonable offers regardless of gender.

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Buying Cars

When it comes to car prices, White men are offered the best prices, followed by Black men, White women, and finally, Black women.

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Solution: Show Them You Know What’s Up

Car dealers think they can charge certain customers more because they believe that they know less about the market. White men are assumed to know the most about cars, so they get better prices. But prove everyone wrong with a little pre-negotiation small talk and you’ll get a much better offer.

Still not getting an offer that’s fair? Time to change dealerships — and shopping in a predominately White neighborhood can help.

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Car Insurance

Flo didn’t bring it up in those funny commercials, but African Americans can pay up to 70 percent more in car insurance premiums than White drivers.

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The Solution? Move

The sad truth is, the blacker your zip code, the more you’ll be charged for insurance premiums.

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Anything Marketed to Women

Women pay more than $1,300 more a year than men for everything from deodorant to sneakers.

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The Solution? Men’s Products

Men pay much less for items of equal quality like razors, lotion, face moisturizer and deodorant. If it doesn’t make you smell like bae, consider choosing the men’s version of certain products and saving up to 50 percent.

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Water?

Yes, water. Flint isn’t the only place with trouble coming from the tap. Minorities in most cities pay more for water and sewer services than White people.

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The Solution? Move

Another sad reality is that when Whites move out of an urban area, the people they leave behind foot the padded bill for outdated services and infrastructure. If you want to pay less for basic services, it might be time to move on up (or, at least, out) too.

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