A shift in the primary breadwinner
AJ: Pew Research recently published a study showing that 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, an increase of 29% from 1960. That’s a remarkable shift in the lead earner in a household. The study goes on to say that the median total family income of married mothers who earn more than their husbands was nearly $80,000 in 2011, well above the national median of $57,100 for all families with children, and nearly four times the $23,000 median for families led by a single mother.
Who makes the money in your household?
AJ: This is always a sensitive subject, I know, but it’s a necessary one. In order to have open and honest conversations about your financial situation you have to acknowledge who makes what. In theory, no one wants to talk about who makes more because there is this social opinion that if you make more money you’re somehow better. Anyone who is part of a team (marriage, relationship, family, etc) knows that everyone serves a very specific, very important role that is all their own. In many households one person makes less as a conscious decision that allows them to take care of their children or an elderly family member. Making less does not equate to contributing less, so let’s be clear about that.
KJ: It would be virtually impossible for both individuals in a relationship to make the exact same amount anyways, so at any point throughout your careers there’s going to be someone who will make more. Maybe it is you or maybe it used to be you; maybe it is by choice or maybe it is a matter of circumstances, but whatever the case, recognizing that it doesn’t translate to your worth relative to your significant other is key to fostering a strong relationship.
Be open and discuss the possibilities
AJ: The reasons it matters who makes more are important since people don’t like to talk about this aspect of working and earning they are sometimes overlooked until a decision needs to be made. Were unexpected career events to occur (a layoff, promotion, relocation, etc) without proper context of the overall financial situation you might find yourself making the “wrong” decision. A promotion coupled with a relocation could be an incredible opportunity for one person while it might severely limit the earning potential of the other. So long-term, it might realistically be better to forgo the promotion for one person for the overall greater good of the family.
KJ: Sometimes the greater good for the family means one spouse stays home or takes a lower-paying, more flexible job…all the more important to make sure you have a proper budget in place and that you stick to it, so you can make it work with your goals!
Embrace the changes in family dynamics
AJ: Earning potential is a huge element of consideration when attempting to make life-altering decisions about your future. Gone are the days of the stay-at-home mom and the bread winner dad. We are in an era where stay-at-home moms bring in more money than 9-5 dads through blogs, crafts, and in-home careers and stay-at-home dads rule the home life. It’s a beautiful showing in compromise and life-balance as individuals realize their independent as well as their combined power. The solution that is right for your family now might not always be what is right for your family but ensuring you have an overall perspective on your family’s situation ensures you have everything to need to make the best decision long-term.
- Who makes more in your household?
Has it always been that way or did it recently change?
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