Being a mom breadwinner is pretty hard, but you can make life a bit easier and more financially stable
I have been a mom breadwinner for more than ten years (first as a married mom and now as a single mom).
As a primary breadwinner, I have had a lot of ups and downs and I have learned quite a few lessons.
In this post, I’m going to share some of the hard lessons I have learned and some tips to help other mom breadwinners enjoy their lives.
So if you’re a female head of household or the primary breadwinner, settle in and let’s dive in.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy anything using my links, I may receive a small commission.
LIFE + MONEY HACKS FOR MOM BREADWINNERS
1. BE MONEY SAVVY
Did you know that more and more women are becoming the primary or sole breadwinner in their homes?
According to the Pew Research Center, a record 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.
In comparison, only 11% of moms were breadwinners in 1960.
While the majority of these breadwinner moms are single moms, married mothers also make up a sizable amount.
There is nothing wrong with being the breadwinner or earning more than your husband. My concern is for breadwinning moms who fail to make smart money decisions.
If you’re going to be making financial decisions (along with your husband), for your family, it’s very important for you to be financially literate.
I learned this the hard way after I got divorced and found myself in big financial trouble because I didn’t make good financial decisions.
I didn’t save enough money, pay off debt or have an emergency fund.
Generally, I had bad money habits including shopping on impulse,eating out a lot and just being pretty wasteful.
I know a few mom breadwinners who found themselves in hot water because of bad money management.
Let me give you an example.
Some years ago, my friend bought a car (or should I say financed a car) for her husband. She is a Registered Nurse and was making good money.
The car cost over $20,000. When I asked her why she was doing it, she said “My husband has been good.” A few months later she lost her job and was struggling to make payments on the car.
Since we can’t predict the future, it’s very important for us to plan and prepare for emergencies.
For example, my friend could have bought a cheaper car for her husband if he really needed one or waited until she could pay cash for the car.
As a breadwinner mom, always remember that your financial future is your responsibility, and you have to do all you can to protect it. You can’t delegate that task.
Also learn to be prudent because you just never know when misfortune is going to strike.
Recommended Personal Finance Books
2. SAVE, SAVE, SAVE
When you’re a primary or sole breadwinner, you have two jobs.
The first is to earn an income and the second is to save as much of that income as you possibly can.
When you have an emergency fund and/or other savings, you will feel a little bit more secure and less anxious.
When your family relies on you for their livelihood, it can put a lot of pressure on you.
That’s one of the reasons why stress is a major concern for a lot of breadwinners.
This stress stems from fear of becoming sick and not being able to provide for their families or fear of losing their jobs.
As a mom breadwinner, you need to prioritize savings. Save for financial emergencies, like if your income gets slashed (mine did back in 2008), or if your marriage breaks up.
Don’t be like me.
If you haven’t been saving money, you need to start now. Even if none of these negative life events ever happen to you, you’d still feel more secure and less stressed when you have some savings.
3. LIVE BELOW YOUR MEANS
Many moms earn good money and can afford to live lavishly if they choose, but one of the ways to be money savvy is to live below your means.
Don’t buy into the mindset that because you work hard for your money you can spend it however you choose.
One of the lessons I learned the hard way was how important it is to avoid lifestyle inflation.
Yes, there will be times when things are going really well for you, and you’re making more money than you’ve ever made, but those times may not last.
Things can change up fast and if you change your lifestyle drastically, you may find yourself in trouble when the boom is over.
So avoid lifestyle inflation. Instead, what you should do is save or invest any excess money that comes into your life.
It’s okay to splurge a little, but the focus should be on achieving your financial goals or saving for retirement.
4. PAY OFF DEBT
If you have debt (student loans, credit card debts etc), you should have a plan to pay them off.
I don’t know how else to say this without sounding selfish, so I am going to just come out and say it.
Unless, you have a husband who shares the same financial goals and has the same beliefs as you, pay off your debt first!
Yeah, I said it.
Back in the day when I discovered Dave Ramsey, I decided to get serious about my finances and to pay off debts.
I talked my ex into it, and we agreed that the snowball method of debt repayment was a good method to use.
So we listed our debts from smallest to biggest and decided that was the order we were going to pay them off.
So, I started paying off the smallest debts (which happened to be his). I paid off four credit card debts within a few weeks.
And what do you know?
Within a few weeks, he had racked up some balances on those cards.
Unfortunately, our marriage broke down shortly after that, and I found myself with lots of credit card debts to pay.
You can imagine how dejected I felt.
I could have paid off some of my own debt with the money I spent on his debt.
The point I’m trying to make is, if you’ve debts, have a debt repayment plan so you can pay them off.
If you’ve a spouse who isn’t willing or committed to working with you, focus on paying off your debts because you just never know.
And if you’re a single mom, figure out a way to get out of debt because you’ll keep struggling to make ends meet if you keep using part of your income to service debt.
Achieving financial stability should be the focus for mom breadwinners.
5. DON’T OVERDO IT
If you’re in a situation where your husband also earns an income and contributes to your family’s finances, this is for you.
Sometimes, you may inadvertently emasculate your husband or make him feel inadequate if you don’t watch it.
Most men don’t like to feel inadequate or made to feel like they can’t provide for their family.
Making them feel inadequate can lead to resentment. And from experience I know having a resentful spouse is a bad thing.
So what do I mean when I say don’t overdo it?
I mean things like trying to pay for everything. For example, when you go shopping or go out to eat, or in any scenario where you need to spend money.
Unless, it’s something you’ve both agreed on previously, give him a chance to pick up the bill.
Don’t just whip out your card every single time.
While they may be happy (or at least pretend to be) for you to pick up the bill, they may harbor some resentment if you keep doing it.
So watch out for little things like these. It may not be an issue in your family. If that’s the case please ignore this part.
6. COMMUNICATE OFTEN AND OPENLY
One of the secrets to a successful marriage is open and and frequent communication.
If something is bothering you, don’t let it fester.
Do you think your husband isn’t pulling his weight at home? Have a discussion with him instead of seething inwardly.
Think your husband is taking advantage of you? Let him know how you feel.
Whatever the situation is, the best way to resolve it is to have an honest conversation about it when you’re both in a good mood.
You can’t have a productive conversation when emotions are running high, so pick a good time for those converstions.
I find a lot of things can be resolved if both parties are willing to talk honestly and ready to compromise.
7. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
As a female breadwinner, there’s a tendency to ignore your own needs while taking care of everyone else’s needs.
Let me tell you this.
There’s no glory in being a martyr mom. Absolutely none!
Your needs are important too so don’t sacrifice all of them.
Do what ever you can to make sure you get the rest and help that you need.
Don’t feel like you need to do everything because you’re a super mom.
Do you need help with feeding or bathing the baby? Ask.
Do you need help with cleaning the house or some other household chore? Ask.
Do you need to take some time off because you’re feeling burned out and need a break? Talk about it and come up with a plan that works for the whole family.
Your health and well being is not less important so don’t treat it as such.
Sure, as a mom and a mom breadwinner, you’ll need to make lots of sacrifices otherwise you couldn’t do what you’re doing, but you don’t have to sacrifice yourself in the process if that makes sense.
FINANCIAL AND LIFE HACKS FOR MOM BREADWINNERS
I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to provide financially for my family, but I am all too aware of the many challenges that comes with this responsibility.
If you’re a mom who is struggling a little bit with your role, I hope the tips above will help you make some changes to your life and help make your life easier and more financially stable.
Are you a mom breadwinner? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?