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Blog Insight & Commentary

Vocation Fry: 10 Ways to Spend the Money You're Not Making

The gender pay gap costs you about $800,000 over the course of your career simply because you’re a woman. Oh, when will this cruel war be over?

Janine Annett is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Rumpus, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and other places. Follow her at @janineannett.

It’s a well-known fact that women still earn less money than men for doing the same work. On average, it’s about 80 cents to every man’s dollar, and that number is even bleaker for women of color. The Institute for Women says “By the time a college-educated woman turns 59, she will have lost almost $800,000 throughout her life.”

Eight. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars. SAY WHAT?

Here are a few ideas—some practical, some not so much—for what you could do with that money if you had it.

1. Buy your own private island

For $800,000 you could get yourself a pretty nice private island. Hey, there’s one for sale for around $750,000 and it’s called Horse Island. With the rest of your money, you could fill it with horses!

2. Throw the mother of all parties

Invite all your girlfriends. Do NOT invite that male friend of yours who you helped get a job at your workplace, then he made more money than you and didn’t tell you until years later.

3. Spend it all on orthopedic clogs

A woman spending all her money on shoes is a cliché at this point, but what if you spent it all on orthopedic clogs? Then you could be both stylish and comfortable.

Read more: A Brief History of Unequal Pay in Women’s Sports

4. Eat a lot of avocado toast, drink copious amounts of fancy coffee, and buy tons of earrings

Although the “latte myth” has been disproven, some people still love to trot out the (incorrect) advice that people spend too much money on frivolous things like fancy coffee and avocado toast. One famous female financial expert says she only owns one pair of earrings (as if buying too many earrings, and not the wage gap, is the problem). Well, now you’ve got $800,000 so get yourself extra avocado on your avocado toast, a Venti latte, and ALL the hoops, studs, and ear climbers you want.

5. Pursue your dreams of alpaca farming or beekeeping

I have this fantasy of starting my own alpaca farm or apiary. Unfortunately, in recent years the alpaca industry “experienced a major speculative bubble” and the bees are all dying so it’s not really a great time to get into beekeeping. But if you had $800,000, you wouldn’t need to worry too much about being profitable.

6. Stock up on menstrual products for you and your friends

The average cost of menstrual supplies over a woman’s lifetime can really add up, with some estimates putting it has high as more than $18,000. So treat yourself to a massive supply of pads, tampons, liners, diva cups, pain relievers, heating pads, the works. And then treat your female friends, too! Ovaries before brovaries!

7. Start your own feminist business

Be the SHE-E-O of your own business. For example, you could start a feminist sparkling water company and call it Sheltzer.

8. Have a child or two

The average cost of raising a child in the US, not including college, is now $233,610 per child. So with an extra $800,000 you could afford to have a few! But only a few. Because you’ll probably still need to…

9. Pay for college

If you have kids, you might want to kick in some money toward their college education. Or get yourself a fancy-but-not-practical degree from a nice private school. Either way, you’ll need anywhere from $20,770 to  $46,950 per year, and that’s not even factoring in advanced degrees.

Read more: 21 Times 80 Percent of 100 Just Wasn’t Good Enough

10. Give it away  

Do you want the word “philanthropist” attached to your name, plus a nice tax deduction? Then give away some of your $800,000! Ask for a naming opportunity and get a building named after you. Bonus points if you legally change your name to something absurd beforehand, so that the building is something like “The Vagina Macaroni building.”

This article is part of InHerSight’s month-long coverage of equal pay. Timed with Equal Pay Day, the series looks at how the pay gap affects women of all backgrounds and in all industries.

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