After reading an article in BusinessWeek detailing the changing roles of women in the family unit, I just thought I have to add my personal input regarding this discussion. According to the article, more women are making the choice to be the primary breadwinner in the family and their spouses are choosing the position as the stay at home parent.
Of course, I thought this topic was quite fascinating because my husband and I are currently balancing the roles of parenting with our daughter. The points brought out in the article were interesting; for example, as a couple you have to make a decision as to whose career will take priority and that in order to be successful, you have to choose who is going to be the “wife” at home managing the family.
I thought the last comment was like déjà vu because I remember quoting that same comment when I worked at a large financial services firm and was battling in my mind what I wanted my role to be now in my family after having a new baby. What I noticed there (Note: I must add I worked in a male dominated industry and office) is that most if not all the men I worked with that were married, had spouses that stayed at home taking care of their families and households. While I was rushing to get home in the evening, I realized that they could stay longer or get to work earlier than me and I felt extremely isolated from them and believed they did not understand my plight.
Now you may ask “What does this topic have to do with finances?” Well, of course it has everything to do with finances. When you decide to expand your family by getting married and having children, you and your partner need to discuss the financial impact of having a child or children and whether one of you will be the parent who focuses more on the family. Generally if one parent decides to be the family focus parent, that may mean he/she takes a lower paying job closer to home or completely giving up his/her career all together.
In the article it mentions that women, who desire to be the primary breadwinner, should really consider the person she chooses to be her spouse as well as his career aspirations. If you have not realized, more women are obtaining a college degree than men. More women are in managerial and professional positions than ever before and 23% of wives out-earn their husbands. And during the “great recession”, three men lost their jobs to every one woman. As you can see, the dynamics of the family cannot help but change based on these statistics.
According to CNN’s Black in America segment, the African American middles class is becoming more dominated with single highly successful professional women. This segment of the African American population is growing which is definitely changing the dynamics of the traditional family unit we all grew up knowing and possibly expecting as an adult. (http://inamerica.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/04/where-is-the-black-middle-class-you-dont-have-to-look-far/)
I completely relate to this scenario as well since I got married in my mid 30’s and was not sure if we would be able to have children. Some may think that if I am single, I don’t need to be so focus on a well defined financial plan but I feel you have to be even more focused because you are all you got. You have to make it happen. You have to be very conscientious of your financial goals and what you need to do in order to get there.
I ask at this point, “Do you know your number?” You may be thinking what number are you talking about? Whether you are the financial leader of a dynamic family with kids or the successful single executive women, you need to know your personal “magic” number that is needed to transition your lifestyle from actively working to a more relaxed less active pace.
The biggest concern today for people approaching retirement is not having enough saved to last them throughout their retirement years which could easily be 25 to 30 years. So the way to alleviate the trepidation that often comes with nearing retirement not being ready is to stop doing and start planning. You need to focus on you, your needs, and wants for this major life transition.
What does retirement look like for you? All of us have a description in our minds as to how we envision our life in retirement. Now attach a number to that picture. Is it living off of $75,000/year; $125,000/year, or over $200,000/year? Then that equates to a retirement nest egg covering 25 years of at least $1.9 – $5 million and that is not factoring inflation and market participation.
A lot of us will not have pensions to rely on for our nest egg and are forced to build this nest egg via our own savings using the 401Ks/403Bs/TSPs/IRAs of the companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations we work for. So, women as you take the helm as the family breadwinner remember to also take control of your family’s financial plan so that you are able to steer it to your personal destination of success. Remember, you got the power!