Women may have a reputation as the over-spender gender, but ladies, no need to take all the heat.

We may have more shopping stamina (why settle for an apple red twin-set when the perfect shade of weathered brick may be in the pile of sale sweaters -- or in one of the eight other stores on Level 3 of the mall?). But it turns out the final tab females ring up is often lower than that tallied by the supposedly shopping-challenged gender.

According to Columbia, Maryland-based Amerix, which processes debt payments from credit-counseling agencies, men 45 to 59 years old owe an average of $19,150 compared to $15,270 for women. Men 30 to 44 years old carry on average $16,400 in debt compared with $14,575 for their female counterparts. About two-thirds of the debt in repayment plans is owed to credit card issuers.

Why the lower bills for women? Since men generally make more money than women (yeah, that's still an issue), they are more likely to buy larger, more expensive items.

And it turns out that gals are more in touch with their inner spendthrift and more likely than guys to seek help dealing with the fallout from ringing up a rousing tab. Roughly 70% of those enrolled in debt management plans are women.

We don't mind if you gossip with the gals over happy hour about your meathead man's fifth HDTV purchase. But go ahead and give him a few pointers on bargain hunting. Customize this stylish Spending Patch (pdf download required) and slip it into his wallet. And if things get out of hand, send him to our High Definition, DVD-enabled, turbo-charged Get Out of Debt page.

One day, he'll thank you.