Rob and I recently had an unexpected conversation. Rob told me that he hoped that he would be able to outearn me after he graduated. Of course, he didn't mean future me where I'm not working full time. He meant present me, at my peak income.
He actually asked if I would be dissapointed if he didn't earn at least as much as I'm earning now.
Rob isn't like me, he doesn't just blurt out whatever thought comes into his head, so the fact that he brought this conversation up means that he's been thinking about it for a long time. My guess is since July when I received a promotion, though I can't be sure.
Anyways, my short answer was no, but my long answer is, "Am I really so shallow that my own husband worries about how much he will earn?" And after I thought about it, I decided that my super long answer is a nuanced yes.
Let me explain.
I want my husband to earn at least as much as he's worth
I know that self-worth is not the same as your net worth, nor is the amount you earn commensurate with how valuable you are as a person. However, I know that my husband has skills that are highly valued in the current economic landscape, and I want his pay to reflect that. Not particularly because we need the amount of money that the market would bare, but because if its available why not take it?
Interestingly, this is not Rob's approach to work at all. Rob is all about finding fulfilling work at a well-funded company. Maximizing earnings is 100% my approach.
If Rob were offered two jobs with different salaries after graduation, and he liked the lower paying job more, he would take that one. I would tell him to negotiate his salary, because he's clearly worth more.
So here's my first question: Should I push Rob to do "career management stuff" like paying someone to write his resume, networking with people, and negotiating salaries, or should I just accept that he's different than me?
My husband might need $5M to start a business someday
I know that I said that we don't need a ton of money, but I kind of lied. To meet our living expenses, and the types of things we would like to provide our children, we don't need a ton of money. However, Rob has a lot of brilliant ideas, but the problem with his brilliant ideas is that he needs really expensive equipment to pursue those ideas. That's part of the reason he's in grad school.
However, Rob's ideas aren't brilliant in the academic nature, so he can't just become a professor and get grad students to study his ideas. He will either need to sell his ideas to established businesses, or start his own business. I would love to be in a position where Rob could quit working and pursue a business, even a really expensive business.
Here's my second question: Should I want to be in a position where Rob could start a business if he wanted, or should we not cross that bridge until we come to it?
I care that Rob cares about his earnings
I have to say, after I got over feeling shallow and insulted, I realized that I was really glad that Rob asked if I cared how much he earns in the future. It's not that I particularly care that he outearns my current salary because I don't (though he honestly should be able to), I care that he wants to be able to support my vocational aspirations.
Right now, we think that Rob's income will be our family's primary wealth building tool for at least 5-10 years after he graduates. It's also the primary way that we will provide for our family's basic needs, and how we will practice generous giving. I'm glad that he takes that responsibility seriously. I have every confidence that he can earn more than enough, and I love that he wants to earn a lot.
Here's my last question: Is it weird that I care that my husband wants to support me financially even though I'm willing and capable of providing for myself?
Okay peanut gallery, let me know your thoughts.
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.