A few days ago, a person that I follow on Twitter (@Stevenomics), decided it might be a nice idea to state a controversial opinion in 140 characters or less. Bold.
When I state controversial opinions, I use lots of words. For example:
Women Shouldn't Date Underearners
Unsolicited Advice to Low Income Earners (Including to focus on earning more)
If you don't like your job, Quit.
Blame your parents for all your problems
I hope my husband outearns me one day.
We would be better off if I ran the economy
You'll never build generational wealth
Compound growth isn't magical
Okay, those statements don't have a lot of words, but I've linked each one to a blog post. If you want to get fired up, go ahead and read them.
@Stevenomics didn't link to a blog post, but he said something like (I can't tell you exactly what he said because he deleted the tweet), "Call me traditional, but I think a man should earn enough to provide for his family. Wife's income should be bonus."
Call me traditional, but if you're going to say something about gender roles on twitter you better be willing to back it up. However, I think @Stevenomics sort of has a point. Let me explain.
Call me traditional, but somebody has to earn the money.
Call me traditional, but if you're going to live on the grid, you need money. You can either get money the old fashioned way (a significant inheritance) or through work or through criminal activity. Since most people won't get an inheritance, and most people don't want to resort to criminal activity, they decide to work.
However, if you're in a relationship, and in that relationship you've agreed to share everything including money, then it's possible that not both people will have to work.
A man can work and earn enough money for himself, his wife, and his children. A woman can work and earn enough money for herself her husband and her children. As long as the person who earns the money is willing to share, then only one person has to make the money.
But at the end of the day, somebody has to make the money.
Call me traditional, but married couples should agree on money roles.
Call me traditional, but in a marriage, both spouses should agree on money roles. You can revisit roles and responsibilities, but you can't just go rouge.
Maybe you agree that for your family, it is best for both spouses to work. In fact, most couples who do not have kids start their marriage this way. In some ways, this is an ideal. Almost an unspoken agreement- we agree to both work, but it doesn't have to be that way. Sometimes only one spouse works outside the home. Maybe one spouse is in school, maybe one spouse is sick, maybe one spouse just makes booku money, and the other spouse is a social worker who could just volunteer instead of working. As long as both spouses agree, it makes sense.
Kids change everything.
Once kids come along, the tacit agreement between spouses tends to break down. Parenting is a lot of work. Normally, when kids come along, parents come to the realization that earning money, and being available for your kid are at odds with one another, so they come up with a plan that works for them.
Sometimes the plan is that both parents will continue to work, and they will take turns being the lead parent. In essence, splitting roles right down the middle. Sometimes one parent will scale back or even quit their job to spend more time with kids. This puts the entire burden for earning money on one person's shoulders.
Whatever arrangement a couple works out, both partners should agree to it, and it needs to work for you as a couple. If one partner is earning all the money, it's a precarious situation for both spouses, that's not something you should enter into lightly, but it is something that you could choose.
Call me traditional, but the person who earns the money should take responsibility for earning the money.
If you've agreed to certain roles as a couple, then you should do your best to fulfill your role. Maybe both people are money earners, then both people should take the responsibility to earn money. If one person is going to be the primary earner, then they should earn enough money for the family.
Call me traditional, but if a man agrees to earn enough money for his family, then he should do everything in his power to do so.
Call me traditional, but if a woman agrees to earn enough money for her family, then she should do everything in her power to do so.
If you've divided up roles such that you've got a primary earner and a primary other role (parent, homemaker, saver, investor, whatever works in your situation), then it is fair to consider any money that the non-primary earner makes as extra. Maybe you can save it, maybe you can spend it on vacation. It doesn't matter what you use it for, but it does matter that if your not the primary earner that you view the money as extra.
This is not the case if you've both agreed to earn money. In that case, neither income is necessarily extra. You might need all the income you can get, even if you don't both work full time. If both partners have agreed to earn money, then you've also agreed to support each other in money making ventures. That's not necessarily true in the previous case, and it has different implications for how you use your free time, your financial resources and more.
Call me traditional, but the person who earns the money should feel proud about their ability to provide.
Call me traditional, but I think it's good to take pride in doing your role well. If you've agreed to provide for the needs of your family by working, then I think you should feel proud of that. Even if that means you're working two or three jobs, so that your spouse can stay home with kids, you should feel proud of that.
If you spend your days with kids, and you're trying your best to teach them, love them and care for them, you should be proud of that too.
If you're part of a couple where both spouses work, both spouses should take pride in their work.
Whatever you do, you should feel proud of doing it well.
I think that it's easy to find flaws in the way that couples manage their income and their spending. It's easy to say it's not enlightened, or it puts one spouse in a precarious position. That's 100% true. However, I also think that couples who divide and conquer can do well too. Take pride in what you do. And don't write tweets and then delete them.
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.