We live in a modern time where equality is striving for a fair balance, with many outdated gender norms being discarded. One of that norms is the provider's role. More and more women are taking the positions of the primary breadwinner in their families for one reason or another.
One of the key reasons propelling women to these roles is that they earn more than their partners. This could be because they have better jobs, are better educated, and command higher pay. Another reason could be that their partners cannot work due to long periods of unemployment, illness, or disability.
In other instances, women became the breadwinners because their male partners stay at home looking after the children— reversing century-old traditions. And the final reason is the rise of single-parent households, which leaves women with no option but to be breadwinners.
Female breadwinners experience a lot of financial challenges. First, in most instances, they still have to balance their new roles with the traditional ones as homemakers. Second, they have to deal with societal biases, stereotypes, and pressure.
Apart from that, women breadwinners have difficulty balancing current priorities with long-term goals like retirement. They are expected to invest more and generate extra income now and in the future.
So, what can you do as a female breadwinner to ensure your financial success?
This article will discuss ten tips that can help every female breadwinner get in control of their finances.
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Being your family's breadwinner is a rewarding and empowering experience. But it also comes with many challenges; to overcome them, you must understand your financial situation. It is the first step that will help you create a roadmap to balancing work and family responsibilities while also dealing with societal expectations.
If you are just starting your role as the family breadwinner, you first need to seek help and advice from an experienced female breadwinner. You can talk to friends or family members in a similar situation. If you can't find one, you can hire a financial advisor. These individuals can help you create a system to navigate your new life, give tips to make it work, and share pitfalls you should avoid.
The next step is talking to your partner if they are still in the picture. You can discuss your new situations and come up with a plan on how to manage your money. You should explore ways to combine finances, reach your financial goals, and set rules that will keep you financially stable. Getting on the same page with your partner early will help prevent financial infidelity, money arguments, and resentment.
Finally, embrace your role and commit to making it work. Find ways to block out societal stereotypes and strive to keep yourself and your family financially secure.
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Budgeting is integral to managing your finances and can be a crucial tool for female breadwinners. A budget will help you balance your income with expenses. You will be able to know where your money is going, finance your family's lifestyle within your means, prepare for emergencies, and plan for the future.
Here are a few tips to make budgeting easier for you:
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Financial health is a metric used to determine a person’s ability to spend, save, borrow, and plan for the future in ways that will enable them to be resilient. A financially healthy person can meet their current needs comfortably and have the resilience to maintain that ability. As the family breadwinner, you should have a system to support your dependant's lifestyle without struggling.
You can measure your financial health using these four components:
Your Spending Habit: You should be able to spend less than you make and pay your bills on time. You are not financially healthy if you struggle to meet your household expenses and live within your means.
Your Savings: A financially healthy person has enough savings to address emergencies and sufficient savings and investments to keep them financially stable in the long term.
Ability to Borrow: Being financially healthy requires a manageable debt-to-income ratio and improved creditworthiness.
To improve your financial health, you should constantly live within your means, save for the future, reduce your liabilities and strive to build wealth by investing your money.
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As the female breadwinner, the role of managing your household's finances and making investment decisions is on your shoulders. You have to create an investment plan to help you build wealth and accomplish your family's financial goals. So what can you do to ensure that you avoid losses and maintain financial stability when you invest?
The first step is to prioritise your goals. You should understand your long-term and short-term financial goals clearly and prioritise them in your investment decisions. This could include saving for retirement, paying for your children's education, paying off debt, or building an emergency fund. You should separate each investment and prioritise each goal according to your immediate needs.
The next step is to consider your risk. Since you are your family's breadwinner, you should strike a balance between taking on risks and protecting your assets. You should allocate assets according to your level of risk tolerance and diversify to minimise losses.
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One of the most significant risks breadwinners face is loss of income. How will you provide for your family if you lose your job or your business goes under? Different factors can cause loss of income, from retrenchment, your employer closing up shop, your skill becoming outdated, or losing your ability to work. Without income protection schemes in place, you will likely experience financial instability.
Some ways you can protect your income include:
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Financial emergencies are inevitable. As the household breadwinner, you should be in a position to handle any big unexpected bill. This can be medical bills, unexpected travel, home maintenance, etc. Preparing yourself for emergencies will prevent you from liquidating your assets or going into debt.
The first step in preparing for emergencies is to know the type of emergencies you face. For instance, you must prioritise health insurance if you have a sickly dependent or young child. And if you run the risk of losing your income, you must have a rainy day fund to finance three to six months of expenses.
To ensure you are always prepared for emergencies: you should build an emergency fund, keep liquid investments (e.g., cash), and invest in vital insurance covers like health, life, education, homeowners/renters, and auto insurance.
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Reviewing your financial plans allows you to track your goals and make adjustments whenever possible. Ideally, you should review your financial plan as often as you can. Your financial situation can change over time; reviewing allows you the luxury to make changes that reflect your current situation.
Consider the case of Akoth. She is a single-parent widow and solely the breadwinner of her household, which consists of her three children and her retired mother. Until recently, her main financial goal was educating her children. However, that changed after she was able to claim her husband's life insurance annuity following three years court battle with the insurance company.
Akoth invested the money she received in investments that guaranteed she never had to worry about paying school fees again. Her goals shifted, and now her main plan is homeownership. She now has to change her financial priorities.
Reviewing your financial plans can help you prioritise, adapt to changes quickly, and rebalance your portfolio in time. This will prevent you from being caught off-guard and suffering losses.
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Financial education is vital for various reasons, from helping you get the most out of your money to preventing losses when investing. The job of keeping your family financially secure is not an easy one. Every day you have to make decisions, from how you spend your money to how you save. These are all delicate exercises, and if you approach them without enough knowledge, you are bound to make mistakes.
Financial education helps you avoid these mistakes by equipping you with the knowledge to make smarter decisions, think long-term, and keep emotions at bay.
To keep yourself financially educated:
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As the family's breadwinner, the financial stability of your household is your number one priority. And the best way to ensure security is guaranteed is to set up a safety net in case your primary source of income dries up.
To female breadwinners, diversifying your income offers more than a sense of financial security. It can give you flexibility and peace of mind. When you don't have to constantly worry about generating income, you can have time to bond with your family, follow your passions, and focus on other aspects of your life. You will have less stress and anxiety, making the whole experience less daunting.
Here are some ways to increase your income as a family breadwinner:
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As your family's financial breadwinner, balancing between providing for your family and meeting your other financial goals can be complicated. Even though you can't afford to make mistakes, you'll be more susceptible to them. Additionally, many people will try to tell you what to do and what not to do—deciding which advice to follow will be hard. But with the help of a financial advisor, you can do it.
Talking to financial experts can equip you with valuable advice and support to help you make better money decisions and achieve your goals. These professionals deeply understand finance and can help you draw the best investment strategy. They can also help you know how to manage money with your partner and how to make your situation work.
Finally, they can help you deal with specific financial challenges. Some challenges, such as educating your children, managing debt, and planning for retirement, are easy to understand. They can help you learn how to prioritise and make rational decisions using their objectivity and neutral stance.
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As you strive to provide for your family and dependents, you shouldn’t forget yourself. Find ways to dedicate time also to follow your personal dreams and passions. This can motivate you to work harder and prevent burnout.
As a female breadwinner, you should also learn to ignore societal pressures and stereotypes and focus on your goals. The pressure can be worse when your partner is still in the picture. So you will also have to find ways to make your relationship work, prevent conflicts, etc.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help when the going gets tough. Whether requesting your partner to get back into the workforce, asking friends to babysit your child when you have to work over the weekend, or seeking financial help from family members, ask for help.