The cliché of a hard-working patriarch coming home to a doting housewife has come and gone, but the reality of income inequality between the genders has not. Thankfully for progressive-minded women, breadwinning moms are on the rise.
According to 2013 research conducted by Pew Research Center, mothers are now the primary or sole breadwinner in 40% of American households. Women are also more likely than ever to be the family’s primary financial decision maker.
With that increased income comes greater responsibility, and that burden can be difficult to bear for women who were raised in a male-centric society. Thankfully, such difficulties are just a symptom of societal growing pains, but for the time being female breadwinners may need some coping strategies while society adjusts to their equal role in household finances.
Read on for advice on being the best breadwinning mom you can be. (For related reading, see: Why Women Choose Women for Financial Advice and Women and Finances: Is There a Gender Bias?)
Make financial decisions together: Even if you’re making more than your spouse, you still need to keep him in the loop on financial decisions. Including him in budget conversations and discussions about when to start a 529 plan are important for the dynamics of the relationship to stay equal. It also takes the pressure off you to make all the decisions.
Buy adequate insurance: Once you have started a family, buying life insurance becomes imperative. But it’s even more important if your salaries are widely disparate. Make sure you have enough coverage so your family will be able to sustain its lifestyle in case something happens to you. You should also consider buying disability insurance in case you’re unable to work. Having a backup plan—like insurance—can ease your worries about being the sole or primary breadwinner.
Outsource housekeeping: With greater pay often comes longer hours, so between working and raising kids, who has time to worry about doing laundry and cleaning the baseboards? Getting a housekeeper to come every two weeks can help alleviate your stress and allow you more time to focus on what really matters. Some moms use the time they spent on laundry to further develop their careers, making those hours even more valuable. (For related reading, see: Top Family-Friendly Companies to Work For.)
Save for your maternity leave: If you plan to have more children, you need to plan ahead for your maternity leave. The U.S. does not require employers to cover maternity leave, so if you want time with your newborn, you’ll likely have to fund it yourself. Start planning and saving for this early, and don’t forget to talk to your boss well in advance about how much time you’ll need off.
Realize you can’t do it all: If you’re busy at the office 50 hours a week, there’s a good chance you’ll miss many school functions. The sooner you realize that a good salary comes with tradeoffs, the less you’ll focus on what you’re missing. Think about the opportunities you provide your kids by working hard and the activities and vacations they get to enjoy instead of what you can’t be there for.
The Bottom Line
Being the top earner in a family is still uncharted waters for most women and it’s not surprising that the responsibility can be difficult to bear. Women especially tend to be more maternal, exacerbating the stress they may feel at being in such a position. With time, the shift in income equality will be old news, but for now, breadwinning moms are still in the adjustment period. Your family may rely on you for their allowance, but you have every right to rely on them for support, love and encouragement. (For related reading, see: How Women Investors Make Money.)
Read more: The Top 5 Financial Tips for Breadwinning Moms | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/032516/top-5-financial-tips-breadwinning-moms.asp#ixzz49XRSMBrX
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