The Pressures and Benefits of Being a Female Breadwinner

Tips for Making this Household Dynamic Work for You

Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA Wednesday, 27 May 2020

The Pressures and Benefits of Being a Female Breadwinner

Recent economic changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the financial balance of power in many households. Even before that, though, a new trend was emerging. Today, more than half of American households are dual income, with the majority featuring the man as the primary breadwinner. However, the number of women outearning their male partners continues to grow. In fact, over the past five years, the number of female breadwinners has grown to four out of ten households.

This is an exciting statistic because it means women are harnessing their financial power in the workplace and taking the lead in their families in a way that hasn’t happened historically. However, it also means women are facing more pressure than ever before to perform at a high level both at work and at home. This can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety, especially if both partners fail to support one another.

Let’s take a look at the pressures and the benefits associated with being a breadwinning woman:

The Pressures

If you’re a breadwinning woman – or on the verge of becoming one – congratulations on being strong and unafraid to grow your career! Regardless of your power and confidence, though, it’s likely you’re facing tricky societal pressures.

For one thing, outsiders looking in can be judgmental. Some people still believe the antiquated idea that women belong in the home or that men shouldn’t help with the day-to-day operation of the household. Female breadwinners who have children also face scrutiny from some who think they aren’t being present enough moms or that they are neglecting their children. In the workplace, successful women are often seen as too aggressive or unlikable, and you might also be fighting an uphill battle due to the gender pay gap. Meanwhile, there’s a double standard whereby male breadwinners appear to be responsible, strong leaders in their families, workplaces, and communities.

The Benefits

If you’re a female breadwinner, it’s likely that you’ve invested time, effort, and education in yourself in order to pursue work you find meaningful or that you have a special talent. You are proof positive that women can and should build careers outside the household if they so choose and, if you’re a mom, you’re showing your children every day that families work in all different sorts of ways regardless of “traditional” gender norms.

Since the trend of breadwinning women is still relatively new, you’re a trailblazer, too, which is both exciting and anxiety-laden. If you’re looking for ways to optimize your family’s dynamic, there are a few things you can do.

Making it Work for You

Sometimes, when you’re in the thick of life’s busyness, you can begin to wonder whether being a breadwinning woman is truly working for you and your family. It’s common to struggle from time to time, but there are a few things you can do to mitigate the tough times.

Approach Your Financial Plan as a Team

Running a household means making financial decisions every day. If you approach your life and money as a team, you and your husband can share the burdens and make decisions for the greater good of the family. The key is open communication and a willingness to compromise as needed.

Establish a Division of Labor

Of course, you want to crush it at work and still keep your home looking like something from an HGTV makeover show, but the reality is that you can’t do it all alone. Sit down with your husband and list all the household chores and responsibilities, then figure out who takes the lead on each one. If there are areas in which you feel like you need outside help – and you can afford it – don’t shy away from hiring a housecleaner or someone to walk the dog. Having clear roles is the easiest way to ensure everyone is contributing to the family’s success.

Be Clear About Your Boundaries

Being a breadwinning woman means protecting the time you need to be successful at work, as well as the time you need to devote to your partner or family. This means setting clear boundaries, both for yourself and for others. For example, you might choose to turn off your cell phone after 7:00 p.m. to be more present at home, meaning your boss and colleagues need to understand that you won’t respond to emails after that time.

Ignore Everyone Else

Your family does not have to function in the same way as anyone else’s, so don’t forget that you and your husband get to define your roles together as a family regardless of what anyone else might think. There is so much power in this – each of you get to contribute to the family’s success in ways that make sense for you, and you’re doing it as a team.

Get Introspective

Honesty is always the best policy – and that includes being honest with yourself. Do you have a money script playing in your mind that makes you feel like an imposter in the workplace? Or, maybe you struggle with the idea that you aren’t a strong enough presence in your home? These types of anxieties are common, and checking in with your own heart and mind from time to time is a healthy way to discover what’s giving you anxiety so you can communicate with your husband and adjust your mindset as needed.

Final Thoughts

Being a breadwinning woman is a series of ups and downs, with pressures and benefits playing out day to day. However, when you have a supportive partner and the two of you both commit to making your household dynamic work, you can achieve success both in the workplace and at home.

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About the Author

Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA

Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA

Kathy Longo brings over 25 years of expertise and experience to Flourish Wealth Management. Kathy is wholly dedicated to improving the life of each client and finds joy in making complex matters simple and easy to understand. She excels at asking the right questions, uncovering new possibilities and implementing the most advantageous strategies for success. Playing such a pivotal role in her clients’ lives remains an honor and a privilege. After earning a degree in Financial Planning and Counseling from Purdue University, she began her career at a small firm in Palatine, Illinois where she worked directly with clients while learning to build a viable, client-centric business. Over the years, she gained extensive knowledge and wisdom working as a wealth manager, financial planner, firm manager and business owner at notable, various sized companies in both Chicago and Minneapolis.

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