How to think like a breadwinner
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[April 12, 2021] By
NEW YORK (Reuters) - While men have
traditionally held the title of "breadwinner," times are changing. These
days, moms are the sole or primary provider for their households more
than 40% of the time.
Jennifer Barrett, the chief education officer for popular investing site
Acorns, wrote about her experiences in this role in her new book "Think
Like a Breadwinner," which highlights how women can shift their
financial lives into a higher gear.
Q: For women who want to take their financial lives to the next level,
what advice would you have?
A: It starts with income, because that will be the springboard for all
your wealth-building efforts. You want to be making the most you can in
your role at any given time, and that does mean asking for it. Women
traditionally are paid and promoted less, so it's important that we
advocate for ourselves.
Step two is to use every paycheck as an opportunity to become less
dependent on your next paycheck. The ultimate goal is not just earning
more, but building wealth. So with every check that comes in, put some
into savings and investments, so that money is working for you and
you're not working for your money.
Q: Millions of women have been leaving the workforce during the
pandemic. Are you worried about that trend?
A: We're in an extraordinary time here. This crisis has really increased
the burden on working parents, because now they have to be childcare
providers and home educators on top of their jobs. That has pushed them
to the breaking point.
As schools reopen and childcare options increase, a lot of women will go
back to the workforce. And what this pandemic has done is shine a light
on issues that have always been there, like women doing most of the
household work. I'm encouraged by the fact that we are now having
conversations about that.
Q: You talk a lot about self-criticism and self-doubt – do you find that
is more prevalent among women than men?
A: When parents talk to daughters about money, they talk about budgeting
and spending. When they talk to their sons, they talk about investing to
build wealth. So if women are not getting that message, it's not
surprising they feel anxious about investing.
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Jennifer Barrett, Chief Education Officer at Acorns, poses in an
undated handout photograph. Jennifer Barrett/Victor Ozols/Handout
That's why women need to get comfortable talking to each other about wealth.
Ironically, women are more successful investors than men, so there is a big
disconnect between our actual performance, and how we perceive ourselves.
Q: Can being a female breadwinner bring up any relationship issues?
A: Both my husband and I grew up in families where fathers were the primary
breadwinners, so we didn't have a roadmap for any of this. One thing I can say
from my own experience, is that one of the most important things you can do is
communicate openly with your partner about expectations and assumptions.
For instance, my own expectations about motherhood came right up against my
responsibilities as a breadwinner. I tried to do everything and got completely
burned out. I had difficult letting go of some caregiving, because I thought it
would mean I was a bad mom. That was really rough emotionally, but I'm on the
other side of that now. It's not about the quantity of time with your kids, it's
Q: Having been through this breadwinning journey, any final takeaways?
A: If you are maximizing your earning potential, if you are saving and investing
from every paycheck, if you are building your credit so you get the best rates
on mortgages, you are setting yourself up to support the life you want without
having to worry about being dependent on someone else. That's a wonderful place
(Editing by Lauren Young and Aurora Ellis; Follow us @ReutersMoney or at http://www.reuters.com/finance/personal-finance.)
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