A few days ago I caught an old clip of the TLC’s 19 and Counting, a reality show about the Duggar family who has 19 children. In order to run the house, everyone has a jurisdiction, a specific series of chores they are responsible for. The girls do all the cooking, laundry, and washing for the family, while the boys are in charge of outside tasks such as fixing the car, mowing the lawn, and taking out the trash.
In this episode, Trading Spaces, Duggar Style, however, the kids are switching places, a departure from their traditional gender roles. The girls learn how to do the boys’ chores, and vice versa. The goal was to teach each side to be more appreciative of what others do, and to teach them the skills to take care of themselves when the others aren’t around.
This episode made me think of the “unofficial” jurisdictions that people take in their household finance, which is often divided by gender roles. From my experience and from what I’ve read about household finance, day-to-day budgeting and bill-paying frequently goes to the woman, while long-term investment and retirement planning job often belongs to the man. In my family, the responsibilities falls along the same gender lines – Mom is charge of daily stuff, while Dad monitors 401Ks and IRAs. They split the responsibilities for their property investments.
When I was growing up, my mom taught me a lot the importance of staying on top of household bills, knowing how much you make and spend, and getting a sustainable mortgage. But investing in stocks, bonds, large-caps, small-caps, etc. were a foreign concept to me. Although I had vague ideas that I should invest, I didn’t actually know the logistics of opening a Roth IRA until I had an old middle school teacher explain it to me in college. Then I started learning about the difference between stocks and bonds, asset allocation, different investment theories, so obviously I turned out OK even though I wasn’t exposed to investing at an early age.
I don’t have a brother, so I don’t know if a son would have received different financial education during his upbringing. But in the future, if my husband and I decide to combine finances, I think it’d be really fun to do a household finance trading spaces deal. Even though we might each have our areas that we enjoy being in charge more, both partners need to understand household finance, which include the budget and long-term investments.
For example, I like making investment plans and studying asset allocation. I do. But even if I am in charge of the investment portion of my household finance, I still need to understand the ins and outs of daily money matter. The reverse holds true. A true partnership might not mean that both partners do 50% of everything, but each individual should have a basic understanding of what’s happening with the household finances.
How did you decide who is in charge of the investment vs. budget in your household? Do you follow gender roles listed above? Have you ever tried to trade spaces with regards to household finance?
image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mahalie/416934091/ via Wisebread.com