They say women handle 70% of household spending, which is why so many marketers gear their products and commercials towards us. (When’s the last time you saw a man in a cleaning ad?) I was curious if this rule held true for my husband and I, and if poking around our spending habits could shed light on ways we can save more money.
Who spends the money in your household?
I decided to look at two things in our spending.
- The number of purchases we each made
- The total dollars we each spent
How I did this. I reviewed our spending over the past six months so that the effect of any outliers would be diminished. We put the bulk of our spending on one credit card, which made it easy to analyze the data. If you primarily use a debit card, you can do the same analysis as I did by looking at the past six months of your bank account debit transactions.
I exported our credit card spending into Open Office (a free version of the Microsoft Word suite) and gave each transaction a value. If I had spent the money, I labeled it with a 1. If my husband had spent it, I gave it a 2. If we spent the money together, 3.
If you have additional people using your credit card, give them a number, too. Then I clicked Data -> Sort and chose column A, which is where I put the numbers 1, 2, and 3. Then I added up the number of 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s to get the number of transactions by person. I also summed up the dollar figure spent by person.
I defined money spent together as things like dinners together, but also daycare, which we agreed to at the outset and are charged automatically.
What I found after analyzing six credit card statements
Total No. of charges – 295
No. of charges I made – 153
No. of charges he made – 78
No. of charges made together – 64
Let’s look at these numbers as a percent of the whole.
Percentage of charges I made – 52%
Percentage of charges he made – 26%
Percentage of charges we made – 22%
As I suspected, I make the majority of the charges, but not nearly as many as I thought I was. Often it feels like I’m managing the vast majority of our expenses, but in reality I manage slightly more than half. However, I manage almost twice as many expenses as my husband. That is a major time suck!
But in terms of dollars spent…
Percentage of dollars I spent – 40%
Percentage of dollars he spent – 23%
Percentage of dollars we spent together – 37%
So, what’s going on here?
A huge percentage of our dollars go to “together” expenses, like daycare. I recently discovered that daycare is our third biggest expense after travel and groceries! And our kids only go to daycare two mornings a week. That’s unreal!!! I briefly considered applying to a cheaper daycare, but a number of readers reminded me that this is not an area where I want to skimp. And the emotional trauma of switching to a new daycare would be considerable, not to mention the paperwork.
In terms of dollar amounts, while I make the majority (52%) of the charges, they add up to slightly more than a third (40%) of the spending because many of them are relatively small charges, like coffee and a muffin on the go.
My husband’s percentage of dollars spent (23%) is aligned with the percentage of charges of he made (26%). This is surprising because he made four large charges for auto-related expenses, include a new windshield, a new set of tires, and two large auto repairs. Aside from these four large auto expenses, his charges tend to be for small amounts, like $10 on lunch. The small charges even out the bigger ones.
Do you ever feel like you need an independent set of eyes to review your credit card bill to lower spending?
How can we use this info to spend less money?
It comes down to the basic principles of spending and saving money, JUST SAY NO! More specifically…
- travel less by airplane (perhaps we could limit it to three airplane trips per year)
- drive less (can my husband work from home one day a week?)
- eat out less (we’ve been pretty good about this the past month)
- try to spend less on gifts (I love being generous, especially with new moms and I know so many preggo ladies!)
What helps me spend less
- leave my wallet at home
- when people talk about fun things they’re buying, think about the wonderful things I already have
- plan meals ahead of time
- eat dinner at home on date nights, then go out for drinks or dessert