Wednesday, July 11, 2012

An Uncomfortable Topic

Back in the early days of this blog, I said that I was going to look at four aspects of quitting my day job. Although the first one I listed was “Financial,” there’s actually been very little about money here. That’s mostly because I am far from an expert; I’m afraid that I do exactly what women are told over and over not to do—I’ve always left finances in my husband’s hands.

My mother doesn't like
this picture
(If you wonder how I could possibly trust him—well, that’s how we started out. We met when he helped me pack my parachute. If I could trust a stranger with that, money isn’t such a big deal.)

Anyway, I try to pay attention to investments and TIAA-CREF and all those things, but I can’t. Or I don’t choose to—I don’t really know which. I’m very, very grateful that Greg has been such a good custodian, because for me the financial world is scary and confusing.

There’s one problem, though. I’ve always had a paycheck, and we’ve always had separate bank accounts—yours, mine, and ours. That way, I didn’t get miffed if he buys a sailboat, and he doesn’t feel like I’m shorting our food budget if I blow money on something I don’t need. It’s worked out very well.

I’ve always contributed less than Greg did to the household account, and when I was being a full-time mom in the summers, I didn’t kick in, but I hope we can all agree that I was working at least as hard as Greg at those times, and I never felt like I wasn’t contributing equally.

What I earn now will go into my personal account and I won’t be adding anything to the household funds (unless YA taste suddenly shifts away from a dystopian future to the ancient world, and from vampires to centaurs). This is a strange and uncomfortable feeling.

A friend to whom I confessed this said, “I’m sure Greg will have no problem supporting you.” And I’m sure he won’t. But I will.

It’s just one of those new things I’ll have to get used to, I guess. I have a feeling this will be the hardest transition of all.

10 comments:

  1. That's been my hardest challenge too. Having worked since I was 14, to suddenly not contribute a regular paycheck to the household was... disturbing, to say the least. Add to that the enormous impact of the recession, and it's been tough on my ego. Thank goodness for my hubbie's steady job, but we (men and women) are so defined by our bottom lines in this generation, it's a tough issue to deal with.

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    1. It sure is a tough issue. I keep remembering Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie getting an allowance from Rob. Yuck.

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  2. Tracy, This has been hard for me, too. Having started paying work when I was 8--not trying to do you one better, Elizabeth. But work was like a religion in my family--giving up my paycheck was a leap of faith. And it hasn't gotten much easier over the years. I quit full-time work nearly 20-years ago. My husband is super supportive. No pun intended. But I still have occasional moments when I feel like a loser because I don't help with the family finances. Especially as I now have two kids in college racking up student loans.

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    1. Maybe we should form a support group!

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  3. Every time you start to feel uncomfortable about not contributing financially, remember that you are contributing in other ways such as cooking, chores, or any other type of support. Those count!

    Also, if you have taken on something that your husband used to, but you do now since you are not working a day job, that counts too as contributing to the household.

    Also, now may be a good time to take on and learn more about some of the financials that your husband looks after.

    C.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Cheryl!

      The fact is that we have always divided the chores as well as both contributing financially, and that division of labor hasn't changed since I quit teaching while the financial division has. I haven't taken on anything new in the house, either, and don't plan to--I need to spend my time writing and promoting!

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  4. I just got a magazine from Vanderbilt A & S which says you're "emeritus" now. That probably doesn't have anything to do with the topic, but I guess it is symbolic of your new status.Let's hope so many changes can find a place in your writing.

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    1. My title of emerita is actually kind of cool! I get to use the library (yay!) and the gym (yay!), but the funny thing is the free parking sticker that I can use in any non-reserved space on campus. What's funny is that I live close enough to walk, and I didn't have a parking sticker once my kids didn't need me to take them places after school. I wish I could figure out how to rent that sucker out!

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  5. Okay, so if you're still working, but on writing, then you're working. You're a team. My dad only worked 6 months of the year; my mother worked full-time. The rest of the year, he'd go on unemployment (he worked construction). He always did household chores too. You might consider that because all of your income is going to your personal account, you're paying for yourself--or you might just think, "To heck with it. We're a team. We're partners. We're each contributing to the family." Or maybe you'll just get used to it.

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    1. I know, you're right. Thanks for the reminder. It's just a mindset I'll have to work through!

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