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In most marriages, there is a division of labor to maximize efficiency. When my children were younger, I never felt like there were enough hands and adults to do all the things that a day required. For two years, I was a stay-at-home mom. I treasured these years, but they came at a huge financial cost.
During that time my husband and I divided up our tasks based on interest, competency, time, etc. For my family, this translated to my husband going to work (sometimes traveling for work), doing any and all activities that required heavy lifting, and dealing with the cars and our lawn. My job was to take care of the children, shuttle them to and from their activities, prepare food, and do the laundry. There was, and still is, so much laundry!
Considering time overall: there was hardly enough time to check email or answer incoming calls, let alone effectively manage our personal finances. Plus, since my husband was the primary breadwinner, if I wanted to know anything about that side of our cash flow, I would need his help. Our health care benefits, our income, and most other financial matters—they were all tied to him. I couldn’t log into my husband’s accounts or access his payroll and stock grant information. Actually, I could have—my husband would have happily accommodated my requests. But honestly, it all seemed very inefficient and time consuming for me to look at it.
I admit this to you. With all my financial planning education and training, and 20 years of working as a financial planner, I admit this. The irony is certainly not lost on me. Let’s face it—it’s all too tempting to check out for a couple of years and let the other person do the “heavy lifting” in tracking your finances.
As a stay-at-home parent it’s easy, and understandable, to want to delegate financial tasks and decision-making to your spouse. Unlike other duties though, this can be a really costly mistake. While trends may be shifting to more dads staying home full-time, the reality is that women are still the majority of stay-at-home parents. And numerous studies have shown that when it comes to financial education and confidence in managing their finances, women lag behind men. Check out our Women and Wealth page to learn more.
It’s never too late to learn about your family’s finances and how to manage your financial plan. Here are some recommendations to get you started:
There’s a lot of pressure on families today, particularly for families who live on one income. It’s easy to procrastinate and push aside some of these not-so-fun duties (again, I have been there), so I encourage you to engage with an advisor to keep you on track.
As an advisor, I work with my clients to identify their financial goals, write their goals down on paper, and offer tangible ways to meet their goals. Be sure to maintain an open and direct line of communication with your advisor. Lean on your wealth team to do the heavy lifting and distill the tremendous amount of information that is out there. We are here to help you make informed decisions.
We have many resources to help you on your path to economic freedom:
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