Monday, November 12, 2012
NANCY & DENNIS: TAKING OVER THE SHOPPING CHORES
NANCY WRITES: Women love to shop! We love visiting trendy boutiques, getting a makeover at our favorite beauty counter, and, of course, looking for a perfect pair of shoes. Or two or three perfect pairs of shoes! I love taking my husband shopping – sometimes, anyway! I love him watching me spend his money! But this kind of fun shopping is for later discussion.
There’s another side of shopping that women despise, and that’s the weekly shopping routine that comes with running a home. Women aren’t excited about the drudgery of the grocery store and pharmacy. There’s no fun in buying meat, paper towels, and veggies. We don’t have the time! We have better things to do! That’s why progressive women have their husbands do the shopping. As with anything we give our husbands to do, there’s an investment involved in training him to do the task the right way. What harm can he do shopping? Well, a lot! He can waste time and money, bring home the wrong things, too much of one thing or too little of another, or something he shouldn’t be bringing home at all, unless he is properly trained and managed. And shopping is a lot more than a weekly trip to the grocery store or stopping for milk on the way home from work. To shop properly he has to prepare properly and understand the rules you set out – you will set out rules! That’s where training and your oversight come in. So, how do we make all this happen? How do we turn hubby into a shopping demon? Let’s look at what’s involved.
You want him to be efficient – I prefer my husband be at home taking care of the house and looking after Mom and me. I want him to get everything in as little time and for as little money as possible. He understands it’s important for him to be efficient and to know that there could be consequences if he’s not.
Step One: Go Shopping – Take him shopping with the idea that he has to pay attention and not just aimlessly push the cart. He has to understand how and what to pick and choose. Have him take notes. Have him carry your coupon clutch. Let him do some of the choosing and selecting and correct him as needed. He has to understand that you expect him to do it the right way, and, while he’s allowed a mistake here and there, too many mistakes will result in consequences he won’t like. Take him shopping a few times until he gets comfortable with the routine and then turn the task over to him.
Tell him where to shop – He should only shop at stores of your choosing.
Tell him when to shop – My husband shops early in the week, in the evening because he’ll have completed what he needs to have done at home and the store where he's told to shop is not crowded at these hours. I’ve decided that Tuesday is shopping day and that an hour and a half is adequate for shopping; he agrees. Even though we have established shopping hours, he doesn't just leave; he's in the habit of asking permission to leave the house, and it's usually granted, but for no more than two hours at a time. More than two hours and he's wasting time and that means things aren't getting done at home. His being efficient is in both my and his interest.
A list is mandatory! – He should be in the habit of making a list of needed items. Making a list is an ongoing task if he’s going to do the job right. Keeping track of things should be a part of his routine; he should always know when things are getting low and plan to buy them on his next shopping trip. He shouldn't have to be told. In our case he inventories all of the food, personal care and grocery items, and refreshments and determines when he has to buy something. He buys and inventories it all, food items, cleaning products, liquor, wine, bubble bath, even pantyhose. It all gets on his list. He's not allowed out the door without a list! You might check his list before he leaves for the store. No harm in checking on him or even having him add or remove items; it’s a small way of showing him who the boss is and a way to keep him on his toes.
Ask the Ladies! – We expect him to find out whether we need anything special or out of the ordinary. I don’t write down things I need for him; it’s his job to find out what I need by checking or asking. If there’s something on our social schedule - hosting a “girls’ night out” at our home, for example - he has to make sure we have what’s needed – desserts, wine, cigarettes, he should be getting what's needed. We don’t like sending him back to the store to get something he should have bought the first time if he did his job right. If we make a mistake, it’s his privilege to go back to the store for that item; if he makes a mistake, there may be consequences.
Ask the chef – Mom enjoys cooking and prepares most of our meals. He makes it a point to ask her if she needs anything special for her cooking. If he doesn’t ask and she needs something, he goes right back out to get it!
Cutting coupons – Have him cut coupons as a way of saving money and being a more efficient shopper. Buy him a coupon clutch to store and organize coupons and to take with him when he shops. He should be pairing as many items on his list with coupons as possible. Periodically check that he does. Cutting coupons is a good use of his time, it saves money, and he'll come to enjoy it. Have him share coupons with others. In our case, he shares coupons with my aunts and with a domesticated man at his office.
Paying for it all – I am a strict money manager, and my husband does not carry debit or credit cards. Men are so irresponsible with money in any form; the only way to stop them spending is to limit what they have access to. He has to ask permission to use a debit card for grocery shopping or for other things I approve of— gas, for example. What he charges to the card should be exactly what he spent on groceries; make sure it is! He has to hand the card and receipt back to me as soon as he gets home. Money management is something every woman should be doing. Very powerful indeed! But that's another topic for another day.
Make him stick to the list – At first he should only be buying things on his list, and, as I said, you should be checking his list before he leaves. And check again to see that items on the list are all he comes home with. Initially any extra items should, as a lesson, be returned or discarded. As my husband became a more efficient shopper he was given leeway to make extra purchases – a bottle of wine, an interesting dessert, or a bouquet of flowers, for example. We’ve come to look forward to some of the extras he brings home.
Brand names – He should always be buying the brands that you prefer; money is not a consideration when you have a preference. My body lotion is a specific department store item that he picks up when I run low, as are the pantyhose that he keeps me supplied with. He, on the other hand, is quite happy with store brands and generics as his personal items.
Make sure he’s saving – Check his receipt and how much he saved using coupons. If you think he can do better (he can always do better), tell him so. Too many misses on savings and there are consequences. For example, if on occasion I feel he has overpaid, he'll get a reprimand and be reminded of what I think he should have paid. If it occurs too often, then what I think the difference is will come out of his allowance.
Forgetting – If he forgets to pick up something, he is usually sent out to get it immediately. But we’ve varied this on occasion. He forgot cigarettes for Mom and had to go to a store on the other side of town to pick them up instead of going to the same store a mile away. Mom was inconvenienced so it was only right that he was, too. On another occasion he forgot an item, and I told him he could get it later. And later it was; I woke him up at 3:00 a.m. to go to the 24-hour pharmacy across town to get it. When he returned an hour later with the item, I told him I changed my mind and had him return the item right then. Message delivered! He’s gotten much less forgetful!