Nick in the NYT

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Nick Foy, CFP®

In mid-June, I connected with Tara Siegel Bernard, a journalist from the New York Times who was writing a piece about households with a female primary breadwinner. As an advisor with many such clients, and a member of such a household, I felt uniquely qualified to share my experience.

The article was posted online Friday.

Tara does a great job of giving some insight into the unique challenges faced by many couples who have a female breadwinner, and provides great context into the insight that academics have attempted to provide.

Here are the conclusions that I have drawn, based on my own (anecdotal) experience (and that of my clients):

  • The way people might approach money and investing probably isn’t a result of having a household with a female breadwinner. But, financial issues might be magnified in such households. For instance, people with a propensity toward comparison might end up comparing within the household instead of just with the neighbors.
  • Men can have fragile egos. When given any reason to believe that their contribution (whether financial or otherwise) is somehow underappreciated, conflict can arise.
  • I tell this to clients regardless of who is the primary breadwinner: Don’t treat it as “his” or “hers” but “ours.” In my experience, when people treat their income, debt, or assets as the property of only one party, they start to compete instead of collaborate.
  • Develop financial goals, together. Determine how much to save toward those goals, together. Decide how much to spend, together. The more unified each spouse (or S.O.) is in the financial vision and direction, the more likely they are to have a united view of how they want to shape their finances.

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