Maybe if we all went barefoot?

A clickbait article today in the SMH (and probably the Age too) suggests that if women didn’t buy so many shoes maybe we would find it easier to buy a house.

Women wondering why they don’t have enough savings for a house deposit could do well to look in their cupboards for the answer. A survey has revealed women will spend more than $57,800 on shoes in their lifetime – almost $3400 more than the 10 per cent deposit needed for an average $544,000 mortgage in Australia.

So, if you don’t buy any shoes from the time you are say 15 until you are 70 then you will have a 10% deposit for a house at 2013 prices by the time you are 70.

If you average the cost of shoes across those 55 years the ‘straw-shoe obsessed woman’ is spending $1050.91 per year on shoes when obviously the silly woman should be spending $3143 per month on a mortgage ($544 000 – $57 800 at 6% interest for 25 years ignoring stamp duty, mortgage insurance etc). Now, a mortgage is supposed to be 30% of your income to ensure financial stability. So in order to be paying over $3000 per month our shoe obsessed straw woman needs to be earning about $5343 per month or $2672 a fortnight after tax. Which using this handy calculator comes to a yearly income of $102 000 before tax. So our shoe obsessed straw woman also works in middle to upper management. Hopefully her clients/employers/employees don’t mind her coming to work barefoot.

But we must be strong. No shoes or no house deposit!

Average pairs per year aside, if you think about the (admittedly pop) psychology of shoes, it’s easy to understand why they’re a staple in a woman’s pick-me-up artillery. They don’t mind if we’re still carrying a little extra winter padding, they will fit our foot anyway. They make us look taller and appear more powerful. And depending on just how sparkly and fabulous darling they are, they may even make us feel less sad for a few blissful moments.
Compare this to taking $200 out of your pay packet and popping it aside for a house deposit that never seems to add up, and it’s little wonder the short-term gain of buying a new pair of heels wins out over long-term renting pain.

If we did put away $200 per fortnight how long would it take to save up a house deposit anyway? Using this calculator if we had started putting $200 a fortnight (at 4%) into the bank we will have saved $56 675 by January 2021. So you can see why saving for a home loan can get discouraging.

But really not buying shoes? Surely there are other things you could choose not to buy? Like a house for a start. Not everyone has a dream of owning their own house. To say that women frivolously buying shoes is the only thing between them and home ownership is really crap. Structural inequality might have a little something to do with it too. Also, for the majority of women just try and get one of those $100K per year jobs (I don’t have one) without being well turned out with nice shoes and see how far you get.

Isn’t it strange how you never see articles about men not spending money at the races or at the pub or buying power tools or fixing up classic cars or motorbikes or on hobbies or sports (or women for that matter). It seems that women only ever spend money on shopping – and should just stop because house – and men can spend whatever they damn well please because women are saving up for all the houses or something.

Update: News with Nipples blogs about this here.

Categories: Culture, gender & feminism, media

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26 replies

  1. What was the sample group? I don’t think I have ever in my life met anyone who spends a thousand dollars a year on shoes.

  2. It was a study done in the UK. I think my family of 4 would be hard pressed to spend $1000 a year on shoes. But then I don’t have to wear suits or formal wear for work so I don’t have the shoes to go with that, hubby has his pair of shoes that he wears to work and the kids live in sneakers and thongs pretty much.
    I can understand someone who needs to be dressed up for work perhaps buying 4 pairs of shoes at $250 a pop, but you would think that perhaps shoes that pricey would last longer than 12 months? I think what they have done is sample women who buy a lot of shoes and hoard them and apply that across women as a whole.

  3. I know of (haven’t met her but I know her daughter) a woman who would happily spend $1000 on a pair of shoes, and would do that more than once a year.
    Otherwise, I don’t know anyone else (male or female) who spends that much on shoes a year.
    Great article Mindy

  4. Lauredhel, I wondered that myself. (See also, articles about the cost of an average wedding being $30000–$50000, which always turn out to have been samples of readers of bridal magazines.) The SMH article links to the Daily Mail, which in turn says:

    A spokeswoman for, who carried out the study, said: ‘The relationship a woman has with her shoes is an extremely special one which very few men can truly understand.

    Here’s the report/press release from It does not discuss where the sample comes from, but at this point I am going to assume it was an opt-in/self-selected survey of people buying or browsing shoes through until evidence is presented otherwise. If so, highly biased towards people who buy a lot of/expensive shoes and unlikely in the extreme to represent the population of all (British) women.
    I’ve spent a lot of money on shoes in short periods of time, because I will find a store that carries AU size 12 and buy most of what they have, but a lifetime average of $1000 a year, not so much.

  5. This still doesn’t top the time I recall reading a survey in the Fairfax Life and Style section which reported that a large majority of men don’t trust their female partners to drive their cars, and it turned out to be a self-selected sample of readers of a men’s motoring magazine. Try harder, Fairfax.

  6. Mary, I was just about to say the same thing about the self-selecting survey (I’m blogging about this “news story” too). It’s also ridiculous to suggest that a woman in her early 20s who buys 12 pairs of shoes a year – probably because she still lives at home – will be doing that for the next 60 years.

  7. Is this that thing where people pretend that Sex And The City is real? Because this ridiculous premise is completely plagiarised from the SATC episode where Carrie realises that she has no savings as she’s spent US$20,000 on fancy shoes, and in order to buy her apartment from her ex has to borrow money from her best friend who of course happens to be incredibly wealthy, because they are all incredibly wealthy, even Carrie who is supposed to be the poorer one.

  8. Reading Mary’s actual link is a bit more enlightening and, based on my purely anecdotal knowledge of the women I know, that description of ‘what shoes women own’ and how much it is worth 570(pounds) looks to me like what a typical women’s shoe wardrobe would look like in the UK. However, most women I know would never by their shoe wardrobe AGAIN every year. You would replace the items as they needed to be. Most people I know tend to buy a couple of pairs of pumps each, a new pair of sandals and a new pair of boots on average a year, which is more like 170 pounds. And one of the reasons for this is that those shoe prices are on the cheap end, so they don’t have amazing survival rates after a bit of wearing.
    Translating this into Australian dollars makes no real sense however given that the relative cost of goods doesn’t follow the exchange rate so closely. For example minimum wage in the UK is 6.31 pounds, and 34,000 pounds is significantly more than what an average person earns annually in the UK. 570 pounds would be a typical month’s rent for a 2 bedroom outside of London, and the average house price is about 240,000 pounds.

  9. I’ve spent almost double the amount on shoes this year that I did last year. I think it’s something like about $60 compared to roughly $30. Of course, being on the dole, this means I’m being a horrible burden to all you poor taxpayers out there. I’d supply the tar and feathers myself, but I’m a bit skint at the mo – must have blown the budget on those hideously expensive $20 sneakers from Spendless.

  10. lauredhel: What was the sample group? I don’t think I have ever in my life met anyone who spends a thousand dollars a year on shoes.
    Mindy: It was a study done in the UK.
    Well, I haven’t either…

  11. Yes sorry Sunless Nick I should have been more explicit in my answer. It is a UK survey but as suggested above probably an opt in one for customers of a high end shoe store or department store of some type. Certainly not your average UK shopper.

  12. Why are you apologising?

  13. Ha, too used to things being taken personally on another blog obviously 🙂

  14. I’m trying to figure out how much my family has spent on shoes in the past year. I’ve bought a couple pairs of Crocs (sneakers & mary janes), and… not much else that I can think of. I’m still wearing Doc Martens that are twenty-five years old and were daily workwear back in the day.
    One pair of sneakers for partner, and a pair of ugg boots (a gift, and not a yearly purchase). One pair of Spendless sandals, two pairs of sneakers, and one pair of dress shoes for the Lad. That’s coming in under $500 for three people: all new shoes, and it includes non-annual purchases, growing feet, and people with pronation issues (which means the shoes aren’t cheap).
    But yes! So many issue with this. And there are certainly many ways to economise that aren’t about shoes, as Mindy identifies. We spend more on wine than we do on shoes!

  15. Talking real fast with numbers is a great way to construct plausible-looking invalid arguments. Example: a fancy coffee at a Starbucks here costs maybe five bucks. If a hypothetical villain named Baal wants to attack Alice, here’s a way to do it:
    Alice says, “I do not own a house.”
    Baal says, “Coffee at Starbucks is five bucks. Five days a week, fifty weeks a year, comes out to $1250 a year. Twenty years of that is 25 thousand, easily enough for a down payment on a $250 thousand house. Do you drink coffee?”
    Alice says, “Yes, I drink coffee–”
    And Baal interrupts, “Then you should be able to afford a house. If you don’t have one, you must not be any good at managing your money. Ergo, that you don’t own a house is entirely your fault.”
    Debunking this line of argument is annoyingly difficult– it requires skill with Fermi problems to demonstrate that Baal has started from bad assumptions, and the debunking doesn’t have the sound-bite quality the line of baloney has. If anyone has any ideas how to deal with this, sing out…

  16. Okay, when I was in London maybe seven years ago? The price of clothing was the same number for a different unit of currency, so what I would pay ten dollars here I would pay ten Euro (Pounds? I’ve been kicked in the head a lot since then), so I’m not doing anything more than backing up Feminist Avatar.

  17. In terms of argumentation, it is poor logic to argue that if you didn’t buy shoes your entire life then you could put a deposit on a house, because you’d never get a mortgage at age 60 or whatever. If anything this might highlight how difficult it is to save for a deposit on a house!
    I think these comparisons only work if the ‘goal’ is sensible, so if you never bought those shoes you’d have a better pension (although not a great one!); or if you never bought those shoes you could have a holiday or eat better or whatever. Other than that, these comparisons make no sense.

  18. As a family we might make the $1000 a year shoe budget, but only because both my daughters need special, orthotic shoes and, of course, have rapidly growing feet. Having said that, I got a $200 discount on the $250 shoes – your tax dollars at work.
    For myself, I own four pairs of shoes (my work shoes, my walking shoes, my good sandals and my old sandals).

  19. FWIW, I do know a woman who is required by her job to dress “professionally” — skirt suit, pantyhose, and heels (I’m assuming 1 to 2 inches) and, again as part of her job, walks all around Manhattan (New York) for client meetings.
    Being male, I’ve never worn (women’s) high-heel shoes, so I don’t know how expensive they are or how long they last, but it seems at least conceivable to me that she ends up wearing out (or breaking) USD 1,000 worth of shoes per year just for work. (I hope she gets to take it off her taxes as a business expense!) Does anybody here know how long USD 250/pair heels last?
    It still doesn’t fit into the narrative above, because if she didn’t buy the shoes, she would be out of a job and even less in a position to make a down-payment. (As it happens, she and her husband already own a house. Yet another strike against the “you have to choose between shoes and a house” meme.)

  20. AMM-
    How much shoes cost and how long they last are highly variable. One can find work appropriate shoes at discount stores that can sometimes last a surprisingly long time.
    I’d also not be surprised if she catches public transit for longer distances or changes in and out of walking shoes, both of which would extend the life of her good shoes.

  21. I own one pair of sneakers, one pair of work ankle boots (flats, not heels), and one pair of dance shoes. I hate shoe shopping, so I only buy replacements once a pair of shoes actually falls apart. I still can’t afford to buy a house (in NZ). Well, I could support a mortgage but I don’t have the % deposit that lenders are requiring these days.

  22. “They make us look taller and more powerful”????
    Not everyone wears heels.
    Heels do not necessarily make anyone look any sort of powerful. Just the opposite, in my eyes: I think they make women look physically vulnerable and off-balance.
    They are also, for many, FUCKING PAINFUL.
    Some of us wear shoes for, oh, I dunno, holding the orthotic soles that we can’t go without, because our legs are so different in length they throw our hips and backs out of alignment and make us limp and twist our ankles if we walk barefoot.
    Gobshites and their fakery about a basic requirement of dressing. Never mind the workplaces that have dress codes including shoes, or that women will be criticised for wearing the same thing “too often” whereas men won’t.

  23. My sister who works in finance in London (and who definitely owns more shoes than average) thinks that wearing big heels gives her authority, mainly because it brings her up to the height (if not above; she’s five foot nine or ten) of the men, who make up 90% of who she works with. She says it’s remarkable how being able to look into the eyes of the men she talks with gives her an edge.
    She, however, only wears the heels in work, and carries a pair of pumps or similar for commuting. She also doesn’t buy ridiculously expensive heels, because she needs multiple pairs to go with various work outfits. However, she earns scarily more than the $102,000 dollars of the imaginary women we’re discussing, so I don’t think it’s a major tragedy (unless we want to compare it to the one pair of work shoes most of her male colleagues own).

  24. etgl @20:

    I’d also not be surprised if she catches public transit for longer distances or changes in and out of walking shoes, both of which would extend the life of her good shoes.

    Public transit (or taxis), definitely. Nobody walks from Wall Street to midtown (unless there’s a region-wide blackout — or some skyscrapers just fell down. BTDT)
    However, I did ask about changing in and out of walking shoes, and she said it was not practical when visiting clients, which is much of her job. (It’s possible she changes when she gets on the train to go home.)
    As for “extending the life,” the subways and sidewalks are full of hazards: grates, broken pavement, holes, potholes, etc. I gather that having the heel get caught and broken off is a common problem.

  25. @AMM
    Oh, I know what NYC sidewalks are like, but spending some of the time sitting, or standing, on transit will still cut down on the wear and tear on shoes.
    As for nobody walking Wall Street to midtown, it depends on whether you have stops to make between those points. Getting on and off the subways and buses frequently isn’t always practical. (I’ve walked that kind of distance in NYC, but I had a lot of time, sneakers, and took the subway back.)

  26. Just to add to the chorus:
    One pair of running shoes
    One pair of heels
    One pair of dressyish half boots
    One pair of (men’s) dressy work shoes with thick soles (comfortable enough to stand in all day if I have to and omg was it a battle to get the shoe store person to let my buy those shoes. They kept disappearing as I obediently tried on more “appropriate” footwear.)
    One pair of rubber boots
    One pair of hiking boots
    One pair of sandals
    One pair of Crocs for the garden
    One pair of Crocs for the house
    I’m actually surprised that I own 9 pairs of shoes/boots, but I’ve owned some of these – like the half boots – for almost 20 years.
    The male in my house owns:
    Two pairs of hiking boots
    One pair river shoes
    One pair of sandals
    Two pairs of running shoes
    One pair of dress shoes
    Two pairs of work boots
    Somehow we have the same amount of footwear! Is my “female” card revoked, or does he have his “man” card taken away for having too many. I’m so confused! How best may we conform?

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