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Here’s what to expect in the latest edition of the newsletter.
Broadside writer Kristine Gill offers advice from financial planners about what you should keep in mind regarding finances if you’re the one in the relationship making the lion’s share. Then, scroll on for job opportunities from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Everlywell, Paylocity and more. (Many of them are remote positions!)
Notorious B.I.G. was onto something when he said that bit about more money leading to more problems. Until recently I would have disagreed, but during the COVID economic fallout, I’ve felt more pressure to earn more with side hustles and spend wisely as the breadwinner in my relationship.
It’s not just me. Millennial women are twice as likely than their mothers to be out-earning their partners, according to career news service The Ladders. Today’s mothers are increasingly becoming the breadwinners of their households, according to research by American Progress.
For heterosexual relationships in particular, many women who earn more than their male partners find themselves sparring over the gender dynamic. No wonder money is 20 times more likely than sex to be the biggest source of conflict in marriages.
If you’re the one in the relationship making more than your partner—especially if your partner is a man—you’re not just bucking the trends of yesteryear. You’re also navigating uncharted territory as women take charge of their family’s financial futures.
I figured I’d ask the money experts what you should keep in mind if you’re the one bringing home the smoke-flavored tempeh.
It pays to get with an expert.
Molly Ward, a certified financial planner and advisor, experienced a transformation of her own after going through a divorce and being forced to take a more active role in her own financial future.
“I saw the value of a financial planner, how much value there is in that,” she said.
“It’s imperative that women get their financial planning done because if she’s busy at work and busy at home with the weight of the world on her shoulders but doesn’t have that planning in order, then it’s like a house of cards,” she added. “One perfect storm can just waylay that family.”
While they aren’t marriage therapists, talking with certified financial planners can usually help a couple navigate difficult money talk and pursue common goals in life and work. (For those of you looking for your next high-paying gig, by the way, check out Fortune‘s latest on writing a killer bio for employers.)
Ward goes over a checklist with her clients. It’s a list of expenses couples should discuss now, each month, and each year to inform progress made toward savings goals and debts.
Andres Garcia-Amaya, who leads a financial advising firm, recommends clients to write down goals and compare notes. Many couples don’t discuss money before marriage. If partners disagree on financial ambitions or plans to, say, buy a bigger house or send their kids to private school, couples can find themselves sparring over key expenses.
Attending meetings together is key, too. In fact, research shows that financial decisions made by couples are less risk adverse than those made by individuals.
“There’s always one person who is more eager to hire the financial planner, but we always encourage that other person to participate,” Amaya-Garcia said. “And after a few meetings even if they say, ‘Oh I’m not interested in that,’ they realize they do have an opinion.”
Talk it out.
Garcia-Amaya tries to coach clients and couples with his own experience in mind.
Years ago, when Garcia-Amaya was still in business school, his wife Jenny came home from a normal day at the office and set her bag down, letting out a sigh. Garcia-Amaya had been going to business school for a few months at that point, and the two-year stint meant that while he was busy with classes, he wasn’t earning income.
It also meant he had time to prep for a random weeknight costume party with friends as part of a networking event.
“It was like 9:30 p.m. when she came home, exhausted,” Amaya-Garcia said. “And she looked at me, and I said, ‘Does this shirt look like it’s from the ‘80s?’ And she was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’”
Despite their best efforts at establishing a fair balance of responsibilities, Jenny could feel at times that being the breadwinner meant shouldering her family’s wellbeing and all of the household chores.
“The tension usually arises if either spouse expects the man to be the primary breadwinner,” Garcia-Amaya said. When finances reverse, gender roles might cause issues: She might both bring home money and do the dishes, and he might feel resentful of the situation. “The best way to go about it is to have those conversations at the beginning of a relationship. Like, ‘What if I am the breadwinner?’ And it can alleviate a lot of issues.”
In the end, the Garcia-Amayas agreed that business school was a worthwhile endeavor. And they divided household chores for the duration.
“My wife was going to be the breadwinner and I was not going to make a penny for about two years,” Amaya-Garcia said. “We basically made sure both of us was confident with the decision for me to attend, and then how I could pull my weight with the household if she was going to be the breadwinner.”
The couple also followed up with each other to see how things were working. It was during these checkpoint meetings that they recalibrated household chores for times when one person was getting tired of their responsibilities, or when another needed help following a schedule change.
“Just because we agreed at the beginning doesn’t mean you don’t need to recalibrate throughout,” Amaya-Garcia said. “Because she said it was fine, but then here I am dressing for an ’80s party not really being conscious of what she’s feeling.”
Now that they’re both back to working full-time, they’ve shifted their household responsibilities for a better balance.
Think about protecting your assets.
For some couples, the financial imbalance is long-term. In those cases, if you’re about to get married, Shann Chaudhry, an estate planning attorney, says it might be worth considering a prenuptial agreement.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions about prenups,” Chaudhry says. “We’ve all seen things in the media like with Jay-Z and Beyonce’s prenup, but it’s so far away from what regular people need.”
instead, Chaudhry says prenups are best for people who have inherited money or assets, have been running a family business, or have started their own practice and want to maintain those assets in the event of a divorce. Millennials are more likely than their parents to be keen on signing a prenup.
“We’re seeing a lot more professionals who are getting later in life, and if you see a doctor with her own health practice, and she gets married at 45 or 50, she wants to be able to protect her practice,” he says. “Sometimes it’s about reframing what the agreement is. In Texas, it’s called a property characterization agreement, which sounds a whole lot less confrontational than a prenup.
“People should come at it from the angle of, ‘I want to make a plan and let’s talk about what this is going to look like and how we’re going to make it fair,’ instead of, ‘I want you to sign a premarital agreement,’” he said.
Keep in mind each partner will need their own lawyer to draft one up, which could run between $3,000 and $5,000 per spouse. Not terrible, considering Chaudhry says a divorce can cost about double.
If you didn’t get a prenup before “I do,” there’s still time. Chaudhry says there are such things as post-marital agreements, which can be signed after the fact and still stipulate who gets what in the event of a divorce.
— Kristine Gill