Does It Matter?

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Gray Easterling
Gray Easterling

In the June, 2014 Money magazine, a three part series started that studies how major demographic shifts are changing the finances of American families. The first segment covers the management of marital money by husband and wife. Based on a survey conducted by Money of more than 1000 married couples age 25 and older, as wives’ economic contribution to the household grows (on average, women in dual earner households now bring in about half of the family income and nearly a quarter of wives earn more than their husband), there are a lot of nuances in the traditional family structure. One finding that will probably not be a surprise—money and spending remain as the top sources of friction in the marriage. After reading the article, I find more positives than negatives in the flip flop of the traditional income provider in the family.

 

Eighty percent of the wives in the survey who earned more than their husband believe they are very knowledgeable about financial matters, compared to just over half of those who earn less than their husbands. These wives are also more likely to take the lead in investment and retirement planning, plus household budgets and bill paying. The husbands in these households tended to agree with these assertions. When the male earns more, in his estimation, he takes the lead in managing money. When the wife is the earnings leader, there is more of a collaborative management style. Nearly two-thirds of respondents reported that they share financial decision making with their partner. Here is an interesting finding: husbands are happiest when their wives earn as much or more. This appears to be in conflict with the common assumption that a more successful wife results in a husband with a damaged ego and lower self-esteem. Maybe this is not true. As one of the participants noted, “Because neither of us is the main provider, there is no imbalance of power in our relationship, and it takes some of the pressure off both of us.” What is true is that wives are feeling the stress of being the main breadwinner. Part of the problem is that the wife is not only brings the money home, but the husband expects her to bring home the groceries and to cook them as well. Looks like an opportunity for a skillet to the (you name it). Fair is fair, and shared responsibilities and proper execution of those responsibilities to and for the family can and should be accepted graciously. The last finding addressed in this article relates to spending. It is still a contentious topic.  However, it appears that the more a wife contributes to the family income, the less of an issue spending becomes. All in all, this was an interesting article with much more in it than I have summarized. Included are suggestions on maintaining a harmonious relationship concerning financial matters and how to help each other feel accountable for finances, as well as steps to take to achieve financial fairness.

 

Romans 12:3 seems to fit this discussion: “For by the grace given me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Also, Romans 12:9: “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.” Finally, from the Righteous Brothers, tell your partner that, “You’re my soul and my heart’s inspiration; you’re all I’ve got to get me by; without you, what good am I?” Good luck and God’s peace and love.

 

Although this information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, it cannot be guaranteed.  This material is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized tax, legal or investment advice.  FSC Securities Corp does not offer tax or legal advice.  Securities, insurance and investment advisory services offered through FSC Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC and a registered investment advisor 3416 North Blvd, Alexandria, LA 71301, (318) 448-3201.  The views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of FSC Securities Corporation.