Who Really Makes Household Spending Decisions?

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When asked who makes the household decisions about buying clothes and groceries and holiday gifts, women overwhelmingly say that they do. Men, however think that they have an equal role with women when it comes to household spending. As if.

Researchers at CreditCards.com surveyed 673 American adults living in households with more than one adult and asked who in the household had primary responsibility for spending in six categories.

A quick look at the results shows that men think that they do a lot more household spending than do women. And the margins are really not even close.

For example, take holiday gift shopping. Some 41% of men say they share the holiday gift buying; just 25% of women agreed that men shared in the holiday shopping. Similarly, 38% of men say that they share equally in the purchase of shoes and clothing; just 23% women agree with that. When it comes to grocery shopping the margin narrows somewhat, but even here a third of men say this nasty chore is shared equally while on 23% of women agreed.

Here are several other data points from the CreditCards.com survey:

  • 73 percent of women say a female does most of their household’s shopping for clothes and shoes; just 23 percent of men agree.
  • 70 percent of women say a female does most of their household’s grocery shopping; only 31 percent of men agree.
  • 46 percent of women say a female is primarily responsible for buying movie, concert or sports tickets in their household; a mere 7 percent of men agree.
  • 44 percent of women say a female is primarily responsible for deciding where to go out to eat; just 9 percent of men agree.
  • 43 percent of women say a female is primarily responsible for their household’s big-ticket electronics/appliances purchases; just 8 percent of men agree.
  • 41 percent of women say a female is primarily responsible for planning travel and vacations; just 12 percent of men agree.

Why didn’t the survey cover items like power tools and high-end gas barbecues? We all know who makes the decisions on those, right?

Methodology
The telephone survey was conducted Nov. 17-20, 2016, by Princeton Survey Research Associates International on behalf of CreditCards.com.

PSRAI interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults living in the continental United States, including 673 who said they live in households with more than one adult. Telephone interviews were conducted, in English and Spanish, by landline (500) and cellphone (500, including 321 without a landline phone). Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error is ± 4.5 percentage points for the subset of 673.