Sarah Krause
Sarah Krause

According to a recent Nielsen news report, women control the purse strings. Apparently, we ladies like to handle the bulk of the buying – to the tune of $5 trillion to $15 trillion a year in the U.S.

Uh, is this supposed to be new information?

Everyone knows women love to shop, yes? But the stat that stood out in the report was this: women are predicted to control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the U.S. within the next decade.


I wondered what my Gen X Mom friends had to say about that, specifically when it came to shopping for goods at grocery stores and bulk outlets. National Editor Tom Karst posed these gender gems: How do you divide grocery shopping duties with your husband? Do you split duties or handle it all yourself? And my favorite: What is good and bad about letting your partner do the shopping?

Don’t get me started on that last one.

The Nielsen report went on to say that while men don’t spend quite as much as their female counterparts on said shopping trips, men are indeed shopping more.

Among my mom friends who handle the majority of meals in their households, most preferred to shop for grocery items on their own, sans hubby. This fact flips itself 360 when dad is the chef in the family. But more on that later.

My friend Mindy W. said her hubby (for the record, an adorably sweet and fully capable dad) needs plenty of instruction before venturing out to the grocery store.

“When I send him on his own…,” she said, shaking her head, her voice trailing off. “He needs a map, almost, of the store, or a docent to maneuver through. Inevitably, he comes back with something wrong – like the wrong size or a wrong brand.”

Been there, argued that. Sometimes I think my (equally adorably sweet) husband goofs up on purpose to get out of future shopping trips. When I ask his thoughts, he admits to being a lazy shopper and an impulse shopper, and he quickly and sweetly adds: “I like that you plan out what we need, look for coupons or deals, and then buy only what we need.”

My friend Chris says she and her husband Doug do not divide duties. “He only goes (to the store) when I am too busy with other stuff, maybe once every four months,” she said. “He is good at doing it if I make a very complete list.”

And when he abandons the list? “He’s not intuitively good at straying from the list or understanding what may be coming up (on the calendar) to see any needs before they arise.”

Both Jennifer P. and Beth O. also prefer to shop alone with lists in hand.

“When my fiancé goes with me, we spend more. So it's better I go alone,” said Jen.

“He doesn't pick out produce to my satisfaction!” Beth said.

Obviously all men can’t be lumped in one category, especially since research shows more men are handling dinner duties and grocery shopping. I recall a dad years ago who proudly called himself a “produce nerd” and happily lost himself among aisles of cabbages, lettuce and peas.

My friend Kara A. is lucky enough to be married to such a man, a professional chef who tackles all the big grocery shopping trips in their family. “It drives him crazy when I shop because I’m the impulse shopper while he sticks to a list and does the menu planning.”

So maybe I’ll try dividing up the duties more and arrange for my husband to hit the grocery store from time to time. I’ll just make sure to send along a very detailed list.