Do your household tasks tend to get completed with minimal stress on you and your partner? Or are inefficiency and frustration too often the norm?
A forthcoming book — already getting lots of buzz — may help. Fair Play: The 5 New Rules to Revolutionize Your Marriage, Home and Sense of Purpose by Eve Rodsky takes the principles of organizational management used by the world’s top companies and applies them to the distribution of household chores and responsibilities.
The idea is most domestic partners lack a system for managing chores, from making dinner and taking care of the pets to paying the bills. The result is miscommunication, inefficiency and, often, resentment.1 But “fairness” is less about each partner taking on the same number of duties and more about taking full responsibility for the ones you have.
Here are some ways to also apply the idea of equitable ownership to the financial aspects of your partnership:
- First, make a list of all the responsibilities that involve household money — such as setting up a budget (and sticking to it!), paying bills, filing taxes, managing insurance and planning for retirement.
- Put each one on an index card, and then list all the sub-tasks involved in getting that job done. For example, filing taxes includes tax planning, understanding changes in tax law that apply to the household, compiling and organizing tax documents, buying tax filing software or engaging a tax advisor and so on. Having detailed expectations for each task creates greater transparency and accountability.
- Distribute the financial task cards in a way that makes sense to you and your partner. Perhaps one of you is passionate about retirement planning. Or likes the sense of fulfillment that comes with paying the bills each month. Divide the duties any way you want, as long as both partners feel the arrangement is equitable.
- Own the process. Accepting responsibility for a task doesn’t mean doing it by yourself, it means understanding all the steps and seeing them through to completion. Where money is concerned, open communication is essential. Establishing a budget, for example, requires a candid conversation with your partner about your shared goals, financial liabilities, income sources and so on before a budget can be worked out. If you own the budget card, then you have responsibility for making sure those steps happen — and your partner shouldn’t have to nag you or pick up the slack to get the job done.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Financial tasks can be complicated. If you or your partner are struggling with the full scope of your responsibilities, a financial professional can help you make a plan that’s fair for everyone.
Stress over money issues is the number one reason that relationships break up.2 Creating a transparent system in which financial responsibilities are spelled out and assigned is a good way to avoid that trap. You can use the idea of “fair play” to connect with your partner about the money management issues in your relationship and have a conversation about working together, systematically, to make sure all your financial bases are . Finally, a financial professional is a great unbiased resource for couples when it comes to managing finances.
Brought to you by The Guardian Network © 2019. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®, New York, NY
2019-74274 Exp. 2/2021
1 LaPorte, Nicole. “Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine is betting that Eve Rodsky is the next Marie Kondo.” Fast Company, December 14, 2018.
2 Holland, Kelley. “Fighting with your spouse? It’s probably about this.” CNBC, February 4, 2015.