ABC FOX Montana is excited to be gearing up for another 'Spirit of Giving' drive.
On Friday, our team at locations around the state to take your donations for 'Toys for Tots.'
And while are in the giving mood, the search for the perfect present for your child-- pink or blue-- may have you seeing red.
Angela Marshall went shopping with some parents, who have found themselves unknowingly paying more for their daughter's gifts.
"You like that one?" says Missoula mother, Angela Schendel, to her daughter, Stella.
Her brother, Sawyer, is fixated.
"Why don't you pick it up and look on the back to show you everything that it does," says Brian Schendel, Sawyer's father.
It's all because of toys at one Missoula store.
But the parents of these five-year-old twins, Angela and Brian Schendel, say they're spending more on their daughter.
"It is more expensive, and there's a lot more accessories and added stuff to it, where as the boys are pretty basic," Angela says. "It's either the Hot Wheels or Legos or action figures."
Like the Schendel's, when Erin Steele shops for her nine-year-old son, Shaymus, and four-year-old daughter, Rosabelle, she's looking beyond the pink and blue at the price tag.
"After I had a daughter and I started comparing, shopping for the same thing for the both of them and ended up saying that the girls' items were more expensive," Erin says.
A Congressional Joint Economic Committee Report finds a markup on items marketed to women or girls. Identical toys cost more if they're sold in pink versus the blue color. It's become known as the 'Pink Tax.'
And these parents are finding the "pink tax" goes beyond just toys.
"Clothing... for sure," Angela says.
"Socks for soccer," Erin adds.
"Cleats for girls," Brian mentions.
"Winter coats and gloves and they were so much more expensive," Erin says.
Federal law does not stop price gouging based on gender. Economists say that it’s basic supply and demand. pink toys appeal to a more specialized group, so manufacturers can charge more.
"The practical items, they don't need to be blitzy or blingy.” Erin says. “They don't need to have all of the different characters on them. It's mostly about them. It's mostly about basic needs."
"Usually, before Christmas, I am trying to do the 'Something they wear, something they read, something they need and something they want.’" Angela adds.
They say it’s all n an effort to avoid seeing red when spending their green.
Parents, how can you avoid the ‘Pink Tax’?
Personal finance experts say:
--Don't buy products that are geared toward girls. Buy gender-neutral products.
--If you do like the "pink" version, buy generic. Those brands tend to be cheaper than name brands.
--Reward stores that charge the same price. Shop with them, instead of the ones that clearly charge different prices to different genders.
--And shop online. Online venues often have both girl's and boy's products on the same page. Price discrepancies will be easier to detect.