We all know the stereotypical scene: A woman hits the shops, dragging her reluctant male mate along for the ride. That image may be outdated, however. A July 2019 CNBC/Survey Monkey poll found that the sexes indulge in impulse buying to the same degree, but that men actually spend more than women. A November 2014 Creditcards.com survey had similar findings, with additional tidbit: Men feel less regret over those spur-of-the-moment purchases than women do.

So if men like to spend money—and feel less guilty about it, too—what is it on? We'll look at five top five things men buy the most.

key takeaways

  • In terms of sums spent, men are actually bigger impulse buyers than women.
  • The top five things men spend money on are electronics, alcohol, cars, gambling, and sports.

Electronics

Many men love gadgets and are fascinated with new technology. A recent poll by the Bureau of Labor Statistics has proven what we've suspected all along: Men splurge more in this area than women. Men spend an average of $701 per year on audio and visual equipment, while women clock in considerably lower at $536. This is not surprising when you think about the cost of a flat-screen TV.

Why do men spend more in this area than women? Well, we can speculate that men are perhaps very competitive and want to have the newest gadgets before anyone else. When gadgets are new they are at their most expensive. Perhaps women are in fact the financially savvy ones who realize that the price will soon drop after a few months have passed.

For those who are trying to kick their expensive electronic habit, why not just wait a few months and purchase the product at a discounted price? You could also consider looking on eBay or Craigslist to pick up bargains from those who purchased the items at full price and really had no need for them.

Alcohol

Men actually spend twice as many dollars on alcohol as women, with men spending $552 and women spending $233. It seems guys really do love to crack a beer, whether it's while watching sports or heading to the bar for some serious drinking. Unfortunately, this is becoming an increasingly expensive habit, as alcoholic beverage prices are rising as well.

For guys trying to make savings in this area, have friends around to your place rather than heading out to drink: The markups on alcoholic beverages are notoriously high at bars, lounges, and restaurants. Of course, you could also try drinking less alcohol altogether.

Cars

Despite the high prices, it seems that men are still buying fast and expensive cars. Men also tend to buy less energy-efficient models. Examining gender differences in auto buying, a 2011 TrueCar.com study found that "women car buyers are more cost-conscious and purchased fuel-efficient vehicles. Male buyers were completely the opposite and purchased vehicles that were either big and brawny, like a large truck, or chose high-priced, high-performance vehicles." 

Gambling

The gambling industry provides men with risk, adrenalin, competition and the promise of big bucks. Gambling has seen a surge in popularity since the rise of online poker and other games. New gambling laws mean that people can gamble for vast quantities of money, or gamble away vast quantities of money, in the privacy and comfort of their own homes. They don't even need to head to the casino anymore.

While gambling is popular with both sexes (and rising among women), ladies tend to spend less and take fewer risks. Men tend to start gambling at an earlier age, in their late teens or early 20s. They are three times as likely as women to become compulsive or pathological gamblers too, according to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcoholism and Related Conditions (NESARC).

Sports

Men sure do love sports. There are so many ways to spend cash on sports including watching live games, buying tickets for sporting events, and purchasing sports merchandise and memorabilia.

Many men can get quite fanatical when it comes to sports, so they will splurge immediately on season tickets or make sure to grab all of the playoff tickets they can. The fun of being in the arena or stadium while the home team strives for victory is so invigorating that it's easy to forget just how expensive it is.

Men who are feeling the pinch thanks to their expensive season tickets might consider that you can be a big fan without attending every game. Hang out at your local bar and root for your team with the fans there instead. Not only will you save yourself the ticket price, but the beer will be cheaper too.

The Bottom Line

The next time you hear the men complaining about their wives or female partners spending all the cash, you'll know to remind them that their lack of impulse control is even more costly.