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HerMoney Podcast Episode 239: Why Every Woman We Know Is Exhausted — And How To Make A Change 

Kathryn Tuggle  |  November 11, 2020

A look at the invisible, unpaid work of women and how to ask your partner to step up so you can level the playing field in your home. 

Are you busier than ever right now? Because we are. With odd work schedules to adjust to, kids doing remote school, households and finances to maintain, and mental health to prioritize…  we hear every day from our listeners just how challenging these times really are. 

We’re now in the ninth month of the pandemic, which is hard to believe, but we’re here, and unfortunately, the longer this drags on, the worse — it seems — things get for women. Between August and September of this year, 1.1 million workers dropped out of the labor force, and 865,000 of them were women, according to a study by the National Women’s Law Center. Another study, by Care International, found that 55% of women have lost income during COVID, compared to just 34% of men. 

And anecdotally, ask any woman on the street, and she’ll probably tell you she’s shouldering more worry, more responsibility, more of the invisible “mental load” than ever before. And, yes, there’s a pandemic to blame, but there’s also the seemingly perpetual unequal division of labor that impacts so many households, wherein women — rather than their male partners — are the ones who see what needs to get done, and we just get it done. We rise to the occasion. We pick up the dirty laundry. We take on that extra project at work. We see to it that our kids get their prescriptions filled or their box of pine cones ready for craft day. 

And. We. Are. Exhausted. 

But what’s to be done? Seriously. What’s to be done, other than venting to other women who ‘get it’ over a pitcher of Ina Garten-sized margaritas? This week’s HerMoney Podcast guest, Eve Rodsky, has some ideas — and some real, genuine solutions. And she had them well before COVID hit — her New York Times bestselling book “Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution When You Have Too Much To Do (And More Life To Live)” has been on shelves for a year now, but we can’t think of a time when we’ve needed her guidance more than we do right now. 

Eve wrote “Fair Play” in the hopes of coming up with a 21st Century solution to an age-old problem — which is that women shoulder the brunt of childrearing and domestic life responsibilities whether or not they work outside the home. The book was so popular it also inspired Eve to create a card deck that just hit bookstore shelves: “The Fair Play Deck: A Couple’s Conversation Deck For Prioritizing What’s Important.”  

In this episode (which Jean said was her absolute favorite of 2020!) she and Eve, who is also a Harvard Law School grad and founder of the Philanthropy Advisory Group, talk about what inspired her to write her book. It actually started with Eve making a “Shit I Do” list, wherein she counted up all the instances of unpaid, invisible work she was doing. When she also heard from her female friends about how much unpaid (and under-appreciated) work they were doing, she knew she was onto something. She recounts a day when she was out with 10 of her friends for brunch, and over the course of 30 minutes, they had received 30 phone calls and 46 texts from their husbands with questions ranging from “Where is Hudson’s soccer bag?” to “Do the kids need to eat lunch?” 

“That was the day I started to resist,” she says. Yet why do women still tend to blame ourselves when we find that we can’t do it all? 

“Why are you not believing you have permission to be interested in your own life?” Eve asks. “A lot of the women I spoke with said ‘I don’t have boundaries, I have guilt and shame around taking time for myself, and I don’t know how to use my voice.’ So let’s just reframe guilt around taking time… That’s how I started to create my boundary,” she explains. 

Creating boundaries starts with you setting a firm line for yourself — a line that you do not cross, wherein you give yourself the permission to be unavailable. “Your time is not sand, your time is  diamonds, you only get 24 hours in a day, and you get just as much time choice over how you use that time as your partner,” Eve says. 

Eve and Jean discuss the terms “mental load” and “emotional labor” and Eve shares her personal story of how her husband’s text about blueberries (in the midst of a harried day of childcare and work responsibilities) was the thing that first inspired her to make radical change. Eve also shares her personal journey of being raised by a single mother, and how she always vowed she would have an equal partner in life. She also talks about some of the research she’s done into couple dynamics, and some of the trends she’s seen. 

“The number one thing women told me they hated about home life is that they couldn’t shut their minds off,” Eve says. “That even when they were about to sleep, they’d have notes by their bed, or they’re ruminating on something that has to get done. And the number one thing men told me they hate about home life was that they couldn’t get anything right. that even when they go to the store for the mustard, they’re bringing home the wrong thing, and they feel shamed. How do you get out of that crazy pattern?” 

Eve walks us through all the steps we need to take to break free from these toxic cycles, and gives her best advice for people who want to rebalance the dynamic in their household.

In Mailbag, Jean advises a woman who is looking to get a lower management fee for her retirement account, and guides a mom who is curious how best to invest in her child’s 529 account for aggressive but safe growth. Lastly, in Thrive, Jean dishes on how to control your financial clutter in four simple steps. 

This podcast is proudly supported by Fidelity Investments. You work too hard for what you earn to let it sit on the sidelines. Let Fidelity show you how to demand more from your money. Learn more at Fidelity.com/HerMoney. Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC Member NYSE, SIPC.

Editor’s note: We maintain a strict editorial policy and a judgment-free zone for our community, and we also strive to remain transparent in everything we do. Posts may contain references and links to products from our partners. Learn more about how we make money.

Transcript

Eve Rodsky: (00:00)
That’s how you start to reframe guilt and start to set boundaries. It starts with you setting a firm line for yourself. That you deserve a permission to be unavailable. That your time is not sand. Your time is diamonds. You only get 24 hours in a day. And you get just as much time choice over how you use that time than your partner. That is a true boundary. That is not just a walk around the block. That takes internal work on yourself.

Jean Chatzky: (00:29)
HerMoney is supported by Fidelity Investments. Whether you’re celebrating a milestone or adjusting to the unexpected, Fidelity’s there to help you navigate life’s important moments with confidence. Visit Fidelity.com/HerMoney to learn more.

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Jean Chatzky: (00:56)
Hey everyone. I’m Jean Chatzky. Thank you so much for joining me today on HerMoney. I mean, really. I know how busy you are – especially right now with your work schedules and remote school and your household to maintain. Just an FYI, like I did not make the bed this morning. I can’t remember how many years it has been since I did not make the bed. And it’s one of those things that would normally stress me out. But I just gave up today. And I think that’s the same thing that so many of you are facing. We are all fighting our own battles these days. And we hear every day, from all of you, just how tough it is. But it is particularly tough for women. Between August and September, 1.1 million workers dropped out of the labor force. 865,000 of them were women, according to a study from the National Women’s Law Center. And another study by Care International found that 55% of women have lost income during COVID-19 compared to just 34% of men, but you don’t need these statistics. You could just stop any woman on the street, wearing your mask, I hope, and she will probably tell you that she is shouldering more responsibility, more of the invisible mental load, than ever before. She will probably tell you that she is exhausted. So, what do we do about this? Well, today’s guest has some ideas – some real genuine concrete solutions. She had them well before COVID hit. Her New York Times bestselling book, “Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution For When You Have Too Much To Do (and More Life To Live),” has actually been on the shelves for a year now. But I cannot think of the time when we’ve needed her guidance more than we do right now. Eve Rodsky is with me. She has a fantastic bio. She was a Harvard law graduate, founder of the Philanthropy Advisory Group, and has spent more than a decade helping to create life management systems that help couples rebalance all the work it takes to run a home and re-imagine their relationship, their time and their purpose. Hey Eve. Welcome. Thank you so much for being here.

Eve Rodsky: (03:36)
It’s so great to be with you, Jean. Thank you for having me.

Jean Chatzky: (03:39)
Of course. So I think it is so impressive that you did this work before the pandemic. Like you literally had some sort of a crystal ball. Where did the idea come from?

Eve Rodsky: (03:52)
I had my own crystal ball eight years ago, and I think what we can realize about this time is that it’s shining a light on the invisible work, right? The invisible is now literally visible on zoom. We’re all that BBC dad with the child that bursts in. But this is not a new problem. This idea that women shoulder two thirds or more of what it takes to run a home and family is not a new statistic. Yes, we have picked up 153% increase in unpaid labor during the pandemic. But this is not a new problem. And actually a lot of people call research, me-search. And so I’ll tell you about the day that changed my life. Because I want to just say for people who are struggling right now, I was struggling. And sometimes out of struggle comes opportunity. So I’ll just say that. You know, you can look back on these really hard days of your life and say, what was I learning about myself then? Because my whole life I’ve always believed struggle equals growth, as they say, right? I guess the cliche is what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But eight years ago, my second son Ben had just been born. I had an older son, Zach. And I was driving and my car with Zach. I had just dropped off Zach at his toddler transition program. And I get a text from my husband, Seth. I write about this in Fair Play. And the text said, I’m surprised you didn’t get blueberries. I’m surprised you didn’t get blueberries. And so Jean, you can picture the scene though. It was a lot like what feels like today – where the space and time continuum is sort of collapsing on all of us. I don’t know what day it is. I’m very confused about what I’m supposed to be doing. I had a breast pump and a diaper bag in the passenger seat of my car. I had gifts for a newborn baby to return in the backseat of my car. I had a client contract in my lap because I had opted out of the traditional workforce. And I want to say that in quotes, because language matters. And now I say, we are forced out of that workforce. But at the time I was blaming myself. I literally had a pen between my legs. Every time I would hit the brakes at a stoplight on the way to pick up Zach from that program that I just dropped him off at, because those programs last like seven minutes, a pen would sort of stab me in the vagina, because I was literally marking up the contract analog. And this chaos, this craziness, was happening and I was texting and driving as well. And I get the text. I see the text from Seth. I’m surprised you didn’t get blueberries. And so I’m from New York Jean, but I live in LA now. And if you know, LA, like we don’t take traffic lightly. So, for me to pull over on the way to pick up Zack means that something was really wrong. And I just sat there. I sat there crying in my car, feeling such shame and cliche that I felt like my marriage was ending over being the fulfiller of my husband’s smoothie needs. When I thought, you know, if my marriage is going to end, it should be over something way more dramatic, like a fight in the Caribbean or some affair with an NFL player or something. But what I was really thinking was, again, a blaming message of myself, which was, I used to be able to manage employee teams. And now I can’t even manage a grocery list. And I think more importantly, I was thinking to myself, wow, this is not the career/marriage combo I thought I was going to have. And why I think that’s important is because I actually have two main privileges for why this shouldn’t have happened to me. One, I’m a product of a single mother. And so, I was a parental child, as the psychologist would call me. You know, I was her partner. I would help her with eviction notices. Late utility bills. I put my brother to bed when she worked late at night. So I vowed I would have an equal partner in life. I did not want to repeat what I saw. And then on top of that, I’m a Harvard trained mediator. I’m literally trained to use my voice. That’s what I do for a living. And so, I figured that day, if this was happening to me, it was probably happening to other women. And I became curious, started reading every article and book on the subject.

Jean Chatzky: (08:13)
You know, you said the blueberries and I just felt it. I felt it in my gut because I’ve been there so many times. And we do exactly what you said we do. We blame ourselves. I mean, I flashed back on this awful time when my son was a baby. I had had this weird toxoplasmosis diagnosis when I was pregnant with him. But the end result, without telling this story way too long, was that I had to go every week and get his blood tested when he was a baby. And I just remember having this conversation with the doctor, who was like my friend by that point. We went at seven at night. She would just make time for us. She said, what’d you have for dinner? And I think I said a pop tart. Like, you know, like we just it’s, over whelming. It’s overwhelming because we do so much. And when we don’t do what we think is enough, let alone what they think is enough, we just beat ourselves up.

Eve Rodsky: (09:18)
Absolutely.

Jean Chatzky: (09:19)
So you, I think that was the point that inspired you to make your “Shit I Do” list. To count up all the unpaid labor that you were doing and to send it to your husband and ask for a change. Tell me what you learned by making that list.

Eve Rodsky: (09:38)
Well, I learned that lists alone don’t work. And we’ll talk a little bit about that. But I will tell you the origin of that “Shit I Do” spreadsheet. What happened was, after the blueberries day, I started to become more aware of what was happening to me. You need consciousness raising. So, thank you again Jean, for letting me be here because we’re basically dumping eight years of consciousness raising on all of your listeners in half an hour. But right after that blueberries day, I happened to go on a breast cancer March. And I was in all pink, sort of like I am in today. I was with nine women that remind me of you – just powerhouse women. And we were having this real true girlfriends’ getaway type morning. Obviously, this was when we could March. You know, pre-COVID, safely. And it was a great morning. It was a Saturday morning. I remember it again, distinctly. We had our signs, “Courage, Strength and Power. Not just a female problem.” And then something crazy happened at noon. I call it like sort of the Cinderella moment. All of a sudden noon came, and all of our phones started blowing up. With things like, my friend’s husband, she’s an award-winning filmmaker, where did you put Hudson soccer bag? Okay. And then my other friend, who’s a stroke and trauma doctor at Cedars-Sinai, what’s the address of the birthday party? You didn’t leave me a gift and we’re going to be late. Then the next text was from my friend Kate’s husband. She’s a CEO of a nonprofit, and this was my favorite one, Jean. Do the kids need to eat lunch. And so, I think what was fascinating that day was everyone looked at me and said, you know what Eve, thank you so much for making that Dim Sum reservation, but we’re going to leave. And they left me there to go find Hudson soccer bag, and to take their children to a birthday party with a perfectly wrapped gift, and to feed their child lunch. And I think, that was the day where I started to resist. I wear it on my ring. This is my resist ring. But I started to resist that day. And my active resistance that day was to count up, before they all disbanded, how many emails and phone calls we had received. And it was 30 phone calls and 46 texts for 10 women over 30 minutes. And that’s the day where I said, okay, this is enough. And so, when I started to research what was happening to us, that this wasn’t just a me problem, I came across a couple of terms. Like you mentioned before, Jean. I came across the term mental load. I came across the term second shift. I came across the term emotional labor. But my favorite was in 1986 article from a woman named Arlene Kaplan Daniels. And when I say 1986, I say that on purpose to show you how much has not changed. And she argued that women do more of the work at home because it’s invisible. And then it’s not valued so it becomes more invisible. But what I loved about the term invisible work was that, Jean, there’s like a modicum of solution in there, right? All you have to do is make the invisible visible, right? And then it’s not invisible work anymore. So, like a good lawyer, I took out my Excel spreadsheet. And I named the spreadsheet the “Shit I Do” spreadsheet. And I started to populate it. And it was really easy, right? It was things like making school lunches, and taking my kids to the dentist appointments, glitches in the matrix – like what you were talking about with having a special need for your child when you had to go to the doctor week after week. I just kept on populating it. And then I sent it to all those women that were at the breast cancer March with me. And I said, do you remember that day? Tell me what you went home to do. And so then I got more people populating the spreadsheet. And then, it started to go viral amongst communities of women, where I would have women say to me, hey, I got your spreadsheet. I see all the tabs here, but where’s Elf on the Shelf. And then I’d have to say, well, it’s under the “Magical Beings” tab. You didn’t look close enough. Scroll down to item number 11, it’s under Santa and above Lucky Leprechaun. You know, things like that. It was really very granular. But it was a really cathartic exercise. It took nine months. And as you mentioned, I decided to send it off to Seth one day. I was so excited. I email him the 19 million megabytes spreadsheet with just the subject line, “Can’t wait to discuss.” And as you can imagine, I did not get the response that I thought my beautiful nine months worth of work merited. I got a monkey emoji that was covering its eyes – not even the courtesy of the three monkeys. Just that sad monkey that’s covering it’s eyes. And that was the day where I realized that, lists alone don’t work. And I had a choice. I had a choice to leave my marriage. You know, sort of “Eat, Pray, Love” it. And start over in maybe in Bali. But I didn’t want to do that. So, my other choice was to resign myself to doing it all and lose myself in the process and get sick, physically sick. Or the third path was what I decided to go down. And that was, you know what? I do this for a living. I actually create complex systems for families that look like the HBO show Succession. And you should feel bad for me because those families are really difficult. But I thought, what if I became my own client? What if I started to treat my home as my most important organization, since I’m an organizational management specialist, what would the home look like if my home was my most important organization and that’s what led me on the journey to Fair Play.

Jean Chatzky: (15:51)
That’s phenomenal. And I want to get tactical because I think right now we need to help women get really, really tactical about what we’re going to do, what we’re not going to do, how to get our partners to come to the table and come along for the ride. Because I think it’s more important now than it has ever, ever been. But before we go there, let me just remind everyone that HerMoney is proudly sponsored by Fidelity Investments. Some of life’s important moments are planned for way in advance while others, like say a pandemic, we do not see coming. As always, Fidelity is here to help you navigate both the joyous and the unexpected events with confidence. Their resources, guides, tools can help guide you through important financial decisions when you need it most. And you can visit Fidelity.com/HerMoney to learn more. I’m talking with Eve Rodsky. She’s the author of “Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution For When You Have Too Much To Do (and More Life To Live).” And she’s got a new card deck by the same name. All right. You want to start with your four rules. I mean, when you look in your bag of tricks, what are the things that are helping women most right now?

Eve Rodsky: (17:13)
So, yeah. I think we should start with the four rules. We can just jump into some practical ways that we should be thinking about the invisible work of our home, especially during a pandemic. And I will say that, as you said Jean, it is untenable. I just got this message from a woman who said, can someone please explain how to homeschool the kids, take care of all the meals, and also work full-time from home without admin support, and still be productive and responsive. I think that’s the $60 million question or whatever that game show was called.

Jean Chatzky: (17:48)
Yeah. No absolutely. Absolutely. So, you can to some degree explain it. And I think, in some way it, it involves letting go of some of those dreams of how perfect things are going to be. I mean, I’m divorced and remarried, but in my first marriage, when my kids were young, I once made, and I think this was a crucial mistake. I once made a crucial mistake of pulling out my cookie cutters, and cutting out of their sandwiches their initials in little cookie cuttered shapes. So, they had peanut butter and jelly Js and Ks. And I wrapped those up and I sent them to lunch. And then I had to hear from my ex-husband about why didn’t I do that anymore – for so many years to come. And I just thought, I never should have done that to begin with. You know, that was ridiculous.

Eve Rodsky: (18:42)
Don’t do that. No, don’t do that. But I do think that we are spending more time with our children as working parents than we did in more traditional gender roles in the 1950s and 1960s. We have social media to shame us. Intensive parenting somehow means that we have to do everything together. So, we’ll unpack that. Because there were so many societal things that were happening to me that were these invisible messages that I think if we did rule one of the book, right? That’s a rule that says, all time is created equal. So, what do I mean by that? Well, the home is very dangerous, Jean, because look, we’re talking about peanut butter J sandwiches. I’m talking about almost leaving my marriage over off-season blueberries. A man in white Plains, New York told me that he was divorcing over a glue stick. So, the home presents really small and that’s why it’s dangerous. But, as a mediator, we like to say the presenting problem is never the real problem. So, if you back up to the real problem, and this applies to women and their money too, so I think it’s really important to understand this. This is a societal problem, and it’s a societal problem for how we view women’s time. And we view women’s time as infinite, like sand. And we view and value and guard men’s time as finite, like diamonds. So, that sounds very esoteric. But let’s just unpack that. Well, in the workplace, we make really, really hard financial decisions and because men are paid more than us. So, women are typically the ones to be forced out or drop out of the workforce for childcare. And often it’s because they say, well, I made less money than my partner. So, that is a fundamentally because of the pay gap. It’s also because of the bias against women that, as we become mothers, we lose 5% to 10% of our wages for every child we bring into the world. So, we know women’s time is sand and men’s time is diamonds because we’re not paid the same for the same hour. If you’re a woman of color, you’re getting paid 50 cents on the dollar for every non Hispanic white man. That’s the statistic right now. But what I was so shocked by was how women devalue their time in the home. And it was women. That’s why I chose to write to women. Because when I would ask women, why are you the one picking up the phone call from the school? Why are you the one doing the blood tests appointments every week, even though, your child has a bottle, your husband could take them. And these were heterosis gender relationships. But a lot of these patterns due to societal norms affect same-sex relationships as well. Most women would say, well, I do it because I have a more flexible job or now I’m working part time. So, they had already lost some of their economic power. Cause I was seeing that a lot of women were taking a step back from the workforce. But on top of that, now, they’re not having more free time, they’re just taking on more of the invisible work of their home, which is hard work and leads to a lot less power. And that’s how I was feeling at my home. So, the my husband makes more money than me argument is a really hard one because we have to really throw that out. Because that would also mean, Jean, that because I chose philanthropy and my husband chose private equity, that I would be relegated to the invisible work of my home for the rest of my life. So, the time is money argument is a terrible argument for why we do more invisible, unpaid labor. The next two arguments, one was, well, I’m a better multitasker. Multitasking is my superpower. My husband is better at focusing on one task at a time. For that one, I had to go to a top neuroscientists – one of the top in the country. And we are not better multitaskers. But what he said to me, Jean, was, imagine Eve. We men could convince you women that you’re better at wiping asses and doing dishes. How great for my tenure. How great for my leisure time. How great for my golf game. And now you also believe you’re better so you want to do it. And finally, one that applies to money. In the time it takes me to tell him what to do, I should just do it myself. So, for that one, I went to my friend, Dan Ariely, who’s a top behavioral economist. And he said, that’s a terrible argument for women – in the time it takes me to tell him what to do, I should do it myself – because that’s a classic devaluing of all your future time. Of course you want to invite them to wipe the asses and do the dishes now. So that you have more free time, of your finite time, in the future, for things like making money. For things like your leisure time. And so, what happens, is that if you devalue your future time, then often you end up in these really difficult situations, like feeling like I can’t take it anymore. More women end up being forced out of the workforce and into really, really different financial scenarios than they thought they were going to be in at the beginning of their marriage.

Jean Chatzky: (23:56)
So, as we look toward solutions, right? That’s a lot of really, really distressing information. It’s a lot of information that resonates as 100% true with me. And I’m sure with our listeners as well. How do we change it? I mean, how, in the midst of this pandemic, but hopefully lasting far beyond this pandemic, how do we get some of this stuff off our plates? How do we decide what doesn’t have to be done at all? What do we do in order to create a life that actually works so that we don’t have to pull out our hair and beat ourselves up and we can actually enjoy it a little bit?

Eve Rodsky: (24:38)
Well, there is a magic formula and there’s three steps to that magic formula. And really, all of the rest of the rules of Fair Play can be wrapped into these three steps. And that is boundaries, systems and communication. If you have all three of those things, you’re likely to be in a place of empowerment as opposed to feeling like you’re drowning. And so what do I mean by that? Well, number one, boundaries. It means that we have to believe that we have a permission to be unavailable. We have to invest in our nutritious leisure time, like we’re investing in toilet paper. But it requires believing that we are allowed to be unavailable from our roles as a partner or parent and a professional.

Jean Chatzky: (25:19)
Tell me about your boundaries.

Eve Rodsky: (25:21)
My boundaries are very strong right now because I have systems in place to create those boundaries. So, let’s talk about how you can reverse-engineer those boundaries. Because when I would say to women, okay, why did you stop skiing? You know, before the pandemic. Why is it that you were a champion skier? And then you tell me you left your skis in the airport because you wanted to feed your baby and get them straight to the hotel. Why are you not believing you have permission to be interested in your own life? And a lot of those women said I don’t have boundaries. I have guilt and shame around taking time for myself. And I don’t know how to use my voice. So, let’s just reframe guilt around taking times. That that is how I started to create my boundary. And my good friend, Dr. Cheryl Gonzalez Ziegler, she really helped me reframe guilt. And what I love, and I do this every single day, is anytime I feel guilty about something that I’m doing for myself, instead of saying, I feel guilty because, I say, I made that decision because. So, when I was going to leave for my book tour for five months, I was starting to feel guilty. And I said, I feel guilty because I’m leaving my kids. And instead I reframed it to say, I am making that decision to go on the road because I know I could help other women and because I believe fundamentally so much that women should not hold all the invisible work of their home. And when you reframe guilt like that, not only do you feel better, but you are so much more confident in your decisions. And this works with your boss, this works with your partner. If you are leaving early to take your Bollywood hip hop class, like when I set my boundaries around four o’clock on Thursday, I say to my partners, I’m making the decision to leave work early on Thursdays because I’m investing in my mental and physical health. And you want that for me, because that’s going to make me a better worker, a better partner, a better parent. That’s how you start to reframe guilt and start to set boundaries. It starts with you setting a firm line for yourself that you deserve a permission to be unavailable. That your time is not sand. Your time is diamonds. You only get 24 hours in a day and you get just as much time choice over how you use that time then your partner. That is a true boundary. That is not just a walk around the block. That takes internal work on yourself.

Jean Chatzky: (27:50)
Okay. So, boundaries. Systems. Systems means what?

Eve Rodsky: (27:56)
Systems means, people are afraid of the word systems. Systems mean can you imagine a life where you’re not drowning in decision fatigue? Can you imagine a life where you actually know who’s setting the table before you’re hangry and you’re cranky? Can you imagine a life where you know who’s taking out the dog before it starts to take a on your rug? That’s a system. Systems are just one thing and they’re very amazing. And that’s what Fair Play is. They are a way to explicitly define expectations so that everybody knows their role. That’s what a good system does. So, things feel fair and transparent because there’s explicitly defined expectations. So, what do I mean by that? Let’s go very practical and to mustard. How do you start a system? Well, you have to think about systematically, how do you treat your home as your most important organization? How do you get to a place where you’re customizing your defaults, so you know what’s happening in your home before you’re setting the table? Well, it requires just really to understand this. How did condiments get into your refrigerator? So, let’s just think about mustard. Mustard didn’t fly into your refrigerator, right? It got there. And once I started to use my day job, my expertise at being an organizational management specialist, and apply it to mustard, I realized, wow, this is actually the same as what I do for my clients. You break down mustard into steps, organizational project management steps. So, step one is, Jean, you have to know your second son, Johnny, likes yellow mustard with his protein otherwise he chokes. That in project management parlance is what we call conception. And then, you have to monitor that mustard for when it’s running low, get stakeholder buy-in from your house about what else should go on the grocery list. Along with refilling the mustard that’s almost out. That’s what we call planning. And then you actually have to get your butt to the store. Now it’s more complicated because you have to wear gloves and a mask or whatever. You have to get your butt to the store to go purchase the yellow mustard. Now in my 500 plus interviews, heterosis gender men, overwhelmingly, were stepping in just at the execution phase. And they’re bringing home spicy Dijon every fucking time. And I asked for French’s yellow. And are you blind? Don’t you sit here for seven years. You haven’t watched the way Johnny eats. You don’t see that he’s dipping his food in yellow mustard, right? And all of a sudden you heard how my tone is changing and what I’m here to tell you, the secret I’m telling you, is that we’re not fighting about mustard. We’re actually fighting about accountability and trust. So, what happens when you keep the conception planning and execution together, the same way we do at work. We don’t walk into our boss’s office and say, hey, what should I be doing today? I’ll just wait here to tell me what to do. But that’s the dynamic in so many of our homes. All Fair Play is, is a system to get you into an ownership mindset, so that when you’re holding a task for your family, you’re holding it with the full conception, planning and execution. And why that’s important is because the number one thing women told me they hated about home life was that they couldn’t shut their minds off. That even when they were about to sleep, things for the next day, they’d have notes by their bed or a pad. Or they’re ruminating on something that has to get done. And the number one thing men told me they hated about a home life was that they couldn’t get anything right. That even when they go to the store for the mustard, they’re bringing home the wrong thing and they feel shamed. How do you get out of that crazy pattern? You move to a system with an ownership mindset. And that is the key and the core of what Fair Play’s about.

Jean Chatzky: (31:49)
Yep. It makes total sense. And I’m envisioning it in my mind because my husband has actually taken over the grocery shopping during COVID. He has picked it up. He has taken it over, but we have a system. And the system involves, we discuss, what are we eating for dinner this week? And that helps us just figure out what needs to go on the list. He goes to the store, he looks in the pantry, he figures out what we don’t need and he gets it right. And I don’t have to worry about it. And it works. I know it works because for awhile, we were only going to the store every two weeks. Right? Because it, it really works. Okay.

Eve Rodsky: (32:27)
And by the way, can I just talk about efficiency? That’s efficient. If you both want time back for things that you love, that’s efficient. That you’re only going every two weeks and he’s getting things right. As opposed to having to go back to the store a hundred times cause you brought home the spicy Dijon and I want a different type of mustard. That’s the beauty of what you’re doing.

Jean Chatzky: (32:49)
Mustard is a very, very big deal in our house. And it has been, it has been a particularly big deal because we go to Costco and buy the big mustard and you get two of them at a time. But Costco’s been out of the big mustard, just like they’ve been out of the paper towels. So, mustard has been a stress point. So, I love that you actually use that example. All right. Last thing, as we sort of wrap this up. Communication. How do you keep it clear and how do you keep it from getting that tone, from getting the anger?

Eve Rodsky: (33:19)
Well, I love that this is a HerMoney podcast, because what I like to say is, invest in your communication so that you don’t have to invest in a divorce later. You don’t have to invest in a breakup of your assets later. Communication is everything. If you say, I could never get my partner to the table to have the conversation about ownership, then what I’m here to tell you is that you are already communicating. I talked to one woman who said, my husband and I could never have a conversation over mustard. It’s too triggering. And then 20 minutes later, Jean, she tells me that every time her partner forgets to put laundry in the dryer, she dumps it on his pillow. I talked to another woman who said she doesn’t communicated about domestic life. I found out she has an Instagram account called “The Shit My Husband Doesn’t Pick Up.”

Jean Chatzky: (34:06)
Oh, she’s communicating. Yes.

Eve Rodsky: (34:09)
Yes. So, we are already communicating. As a mediator, I can go onto your nest cam. I’ll see five ways you communicated today. I don’t even need your audio on. When I was starting to talk to women about a communication shift, as opposed to a start, I had so many more women say, okay, I’m ready for the shift. And it just is three simple steps that you can start today. Before you decide who does what, and you can enter a system and set a boundary, you start with communication. You treat your communication practice with more rigor and respect then your exercise and meditation practice. So, what I mean by that. One, recognize you’re already communicating. We all communicate. Number two, recognize you’re probably communicating by giving feedback in the moment. You’re either boiling over to you until you can’t take it anymore or using bad timing to ask for that mustard. Or using a terrible tone. Like I do. My husband calls me nails on a chalkboard. But often it’s because we’re communicating our what in the moment? Why didn’t you take out the garbage? Where’s the kids on zoom? It’s a what type of communication in the moment. So, how do you change a what type of communication in the moment? You move to a why type of communication, not in the moment. And so, what I ask people to do is invest 10 minutes a day. Set a timer. Bring cookie dough or glass of tequila. Set a timer. Check in with your partner every day. If you’re exercising during that time, then don’t exercise for a week and try this instead. Spend 10 minutes on your communication practice. It is a life-changing thing. And when you’re there, instead of saying things like you didn’t put the pot the right way in the dishwasher, you start with your why. Why you’re feeling that way today. I am feeling really upset that there are a million dishes in the sink because I’m feeling like my time is not being valued. Or maybe the story I’m telling myself is that you’re expecting me to handle everything while you watch sports center and get to work out. That’s the story I’m telling myself, right? You start with your why you’re feeling a certain way. As opposed to what needs to get done. So that’s it. No feedback in the moment. Set a weekly check-in or a nightly check-in, which is what Seth and I are doing now, 10 minutes. Start with your why. You can start that today.

Jean Chatzky: (36:37)
You are so brilliant. Amazing. Just exactly what we needed right now. Eve, everybody who is listening should get the book. Everybody should get the car deck so they can go through the exercises of playing with it. Where do we get more information about you

Eve Rodsky: (36:54)
Go to FairPlayLife.com. We have lots of free resources. If you want to get started and starting to get more fairness in your home, we offer lots of free resources there and lots of videos for a lot of the typical hurdles people face when they’re trying to set a new rebalance for a new life.

Jean Chatzky: (37:15)
I feel better. Thank you so much for doing this today.

Eve Rodsky: (37:19)
Thank you, Jean, for having me.

Jean Chatzky: (37:21)
Absolutely. And we’ll be right back with Kathryn and your mailbag.

Jean Chatzky: (37:31)
So, can I just say thank you to HerMoney’s Kathryn Tuggle, who’s joined me, for teeing up that interview. I know you found her and you were like, we have to get her. And I’m so happy. That was so much fun.

Kathryn Tuggle: (37:45)
She’s so good.

Jean Chatzky: (37:46)
I know.

Kathryn Tuggle: (37:46)
She’s so good. And I just saw her book at The Strand – one of my favorite bookstores here in New York. If I see something that is good for the show, sometimes I’ll just take a quick picture of it. And I had just a picture of her book on my phone for a few months. And then I thought, I’ve got to reach out. So very, very glad she was able to join us.

Jean Chatzky: (38:04)
Yeah. She’s one of my new favorites. I think I have a crush.

Kathryn Tuggle: (38:07)
I totally agree. I’ve got to get that card deck when it comes out.

Jean Chatzky: (38:10)
Yeah. For sure. For sure. The Strand. I’m sorry about The Strand. I think there’s now some sort of a, I don’t know if it’s a Go Fund Me or some sort of movement afoot to save The Strand because it’s in trouble because of the pandemic.

Kathryn Tuggle: (38:25)
Yeah. The founder put out a post that I saw across all their channels that said that their revenue is down by 70% and they’re going to need some help to get it. So, yeah. I was just there this past weekend buying some books. So, yeah. They need help. And you can order online, too. Like for people who are listening, who are not in New York. They have the most amazing little like makeup bags and greeting cards and candles. So, you know, it’s a great place.

Jean Chatzky: (38:54)
Yeah. My niece, who is, she is 15. It’s her favorite place in the city. I have two twin nieces. I think our listeners have heard me talk about them. But, but my niece, Dylan, reads plays like they’re going out of style and she gets a lot of her plays at The Strand.

Kathryn Tuggle: (39:11)
Amazing.

Jean Chatzky: (39:12)
Yeah. All right. I know we’ve got a bunch of questions and that was a long interview, but I just couldn’t end it. Let’s dig in.

Kathryn Tuggle: (39:20)
Yeah, absolutely. Our first question comes to us from Nan. She writes, I have two investment retirement accounts. My former employer used Betterment, with a management fee of 0.25%. And my current employer uses Principal with a management fee of 0.45%. I was thinking of rolling over my investments from Principal to Betterment so I can get the lower fee. Would you advise this? Or what are the other options to get a lower management fee? I know management fees can eat into your retirement. So, I’m trying to find ways to lower those fees. Thank you.

Jean Chatzky: (39:51)
So, I love the question, Nan. And I love the impulse. Because yes. We should absolutely shop around for fees when it comes to our investments, because every basis point that goes into the pocket of expenses and management is a basis point that doesn’t come to us. And a basis point is 1/100 of 1%. So, a management fee of 0.25% is 25 basis points. A management fee of 0.45% is 45 basis points. And you’re absolutely right to be thinking about this. The unfortunate thing is, as long as you continue to work for your current employer, you don’t have the option to do this. You can roll these funds into an IRA or into another employer’s plan, but you have to separate from your job first in order to do it. And that can mean retiring, but it can also mean just switching jobs, quitting, whatever. You just can’t be working for them and make it happen. But I would say, if this is something that you’re thinking about, this is the kind of thing that we talk to our benefits department about, and we say, hey, why are these fees higher than they were at my last job? Is there anything that you can do about that? Is there a way to bring them down. And start a conversation. I think if we don’t ask, we don’t get., So, look at what your options are.

Kathryn Tuggle: (41:28)
I love that. And I love the idea of starting a conversation, too. Because sometimes the people in HR bring those fees down.

Jean Chatzky: (41:35)
Yeah. Yeah. They can bring them down. They can make changes. By the way, they want to know what you’re thinking about. They want to know what they can do to keep their employees happy, and keep their employees engaged. Especially engaged in financial wellness, which is such an important topic right now. They know that there are tons of people who are under stress about their finances. And so, if there are things about your finances that are stressing you out where your benefits department could help you, you tell them. You talk to them. You ask questions. That is what they’re there for.

Kathryn Tuggle: (42:12)
Absolutely. Our last question comes to us from Jennifer who is 50 and lives in Akron, Ohio. She writes, I am the mom of a high school junior who will be attending college in the fall of 2022. We’ve been saving for college in a 529 account, where we have invested an aggressive age-based funds that now read blended moderate growth. With the pending election and the impact those results could have on the market. Are there any changes we should make now to her asset allocation to preserve the current balance? I also have a high school sophomore. Is there anything different we should consider for her fund? I enjoy your podcast and look forward to your thoughts. Thank you.

Jean Chatzky: (42:47)
The question that I have Jennifer, and by the way, this is a really good question. So, you’re in an age-based portfolio in a 529 college savings account. And the way these work are kind of like a target date retirement fund. As your child gets closer and closer to college and needing to use the money, the amount of risk that is being taken in the portfolio, tapers off. But in addition to there being age-based portfolios, there may be aggressive age-based portfolios, moderate ones and conservative ones. And it sounds like you are on the aggressive track because you have not made any changes. If you’re worried, then you may want to go to the moderate track or the conservative track. But before you do that, I’d actually pick up the phone and I would talk to the company that is managing this 529, because they’re all different. And ask them, what does it mean in their book to be aggressive? How are these funds invested at this point? And see if that’s something that you’re comfortable with. For your sophomore, you’ve got an additional year of time, in which to make up any dips in the market, before you need the money for college. So, you may very well feel more comfortable with a more aggressive stance for that child than you do for this child. But I would, first and foremost, just ask the question, how are these invested? And if it’s making you nervous, dial it back for a little while. You are very, very close to being there. And if you, after we go through the election cycle, change your mind on that, you can go back into the aggressive age-based portfolio. You still won’t be invested as aggressively as you would have when your child was in elementary school or in middle school. But they’re shades of being aggressive and shades of taking risk. I hope that that makes sense and good luck. Good for you for getting a handle on this and for thinking about this as we head into the election. I know it’s a scary time. I know that you know that I’m not a believer in timing the market. But I am a believer in rebalancing and making sure that you are taking the appropriate amount of risk for you.

Kathryn Tuggle: (45:28)
Yeah, absolutely. It’s so good that she’s getting out ahead of this and looking at it while her kids still have got a little distance from needing those funds.

Jean Chatzky: (45:37)
Absolutely. And the markets are incredibly volatile right now. You know, hundreds and hundreds of points in swings. And what happens after the election, I don’t know. I really don’t know. And so, you are going to want to make sure that you’ve got some time between this big event in our country’s history and your goals.

Kathryn Tuggle: (46:00)
Absolutely. Thanks Jean.

Jean Chatzky: (46:02)
Thanks, Kathryn. In today’s Thrive, let’s control your financial clutter. Whether we’re talking about credit card receipts, bank statements, investment account updates, insurance forms, tax returns, life produces a never ending stream of personal finance related detritus. What’s the trick to organizing your finances and beating back the growing piles of paperwork. The trick is to just start, by the way. And we have a comprehensive rundown at hermoney.com. But the first step is to drag the piles to a single place. Like organizational guru, Marie Kondo, recommends, start your journey by dumping out everything in one place so you can have a good cry over the mess. This becomes your sorting room. And then, don’t worry. The mountain that you’re facing is about to be tamed. Second, create your categories. Now it’s time to make some fresh new piles. Your job here is to simply put like items with like. So, you may want to category for banking, for credit card, for bills, for retirement. You get the idea. Third, set aside, special documents like your living will, your marriage license, your social security card, your medical directives. Essentially all your estate related paperwork – the paperwork that you may need in case of an emergency. You don’t want to be fumbling around to find a loved one’s power of attorney while you’re dealing with a stressful situation. And finally, play the keep or toss game. This is the fun part. If you’ve got a shredder, it’s time to file it up. Also acceptable, any form of fire, like a grill or a fireplace, that you can use to safely destroy discarded documents. If you’re not sure what to keep and what to burn or toss, the IRS has specific recommendations on documents that you could keep from anywhere to two to seven years. And we’ve got a complete financial rundown of these records again at hermoney.com. Thank you so much for joining me today on HerMoney. Thanks to Eve Rodsky for the insight on what women are really feeling these days and how we can all level the playing field, especially in our own homes. I know many of you have been asking for an episode just like this, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you like what you hear, please subscribe to our show at Apple Podcasts. Leave us a review. We love hearing what you think. We also want to thank our sponsor Fidelity. We record this podcast out of CDM Sound Studios. Our music is provided by Video Helper and our show comes to you through Megaphone. Thank you so much for joining us and we’ll talk soon.


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