Home Economics

I wouldn't say that my wife is a "couponer," but she does love to maximize her savings when she buys things. By contrast, I have spent most of my life loathing coupons and considering time spent collecting coupons essentially time wasted. I'd use any coupon that fell into my lap, but I'd never do as my mother did, spending Sunday mornings going through all the mailers, clipping good coupons, and putting them in a box for use at the grocery store later. All that work to save 25 cents on a can of soup? That's not a good investment of my time...

The advent of coupon apps changes the economics of the situation quite a bit. I might hate investing time in the pursuit of coupon savings, but I have absolutely no problem outsourcing that work to app developers. For that matter, considering how much my wife enjoys saving money on regular purchases, I also don't mind outsourcing that work to her. It's not labor for her, anyway, it's leisure.

This is a somewhat trivial but no less powerful expression of the whole purpose of marriage: division of labor, specialization of task, and an increasing production possibilities curve. And if you're lucky enough to have married an extremely attractive person, as I did, well that's a benefit, too. And then there's our child!

Ordinarily, I do the family's grocery shopping on the weekends. It's part of our division of labor at home, and interestingly enough, it's a task I enjoy, so not much of a burden. Still, it's always much more fun when my wife tags along, and this past weekend, she did. Not only that, she was inspired to hunt down a few great money-saving apps for us, and we not only lowered our grocery bill by 10%, she also found some way to earn 10% of the value of our bill in "points." (What we get to spend the points on later, I have no idea, but there they are.)

Life can be quite seamless when it all comes together. I think the way to have a happy home life is for everyone in the family to embrace their strengths, and divide labor accordingly. Even my daughter got in on the action, providing me with a much-needed extra pair of hands while I was cooking dinner later. With everything running smoothly, everyone has the most time to do what they want, everyone gets to contribute to how happy the others are, even at minimal cost (since, again, we're all focused on tasks that that we generally enjoy).

Part of the success of this involves shouldering your responsibilities. We were not as happy a family, for example, when my wife and I split the cooking 50-50. She dreaded having to cook, and consequently the meals weren't as satisfying as they could have been. (You try cooking a delicious-tasting meal when you don't want to cook!) One day, I decided to let her off the hook. I could see how much it was bothering her, and even on days when I don't want to cook very much, it doesn't bother me all that much. I can throw something tasty together in 30 minutes if I'm not feeling particularly culinary; and if I get ambitious, we all really enjoy what I come up with. But in order to enjoy our current routine, I had to recognize that taking on more of the responsibility in this one area was something I needed to do for the whole team.

And if you're managing things correctly in your own home, all this becomes a rhythm or a pattern, and before you know it, everyone's happier.

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