Saturday, November 3, 2018

Working as a Financial Team

Work has not been great for DH. His earnings continue to be sluggish. However, in comparison to his peers, he's doing better financially than the other three, out earning them he estimates, all combined in sales. There is a base each receives first, with commission on top, but the base is low. The economy is weird right now. At a macro level, those in power are trying to tell everyone the country is doing great-better than it has in the last decade. On a micro level, my family specifically but anecdotally as I talk to other people, not all is peachy. The tariff situation is having a very real impact on people in my life, my family. DH was brutally honest with me as he was writing his paycheck deposit into the check book that it is a real possibility his store won't make it to the new year, let alone until his planned retirement in under five. He personally has a few options, but will change our family dynamics. These are things beyond our control, so it pushes me to work harder where we do have control. 

In our discussion, we played around verbally with a bunch of what ifs, and how we would handle different financial scenarios. He made a statement that I thought about for a while after he left for work. Essentially, he doesn't like that I would carry so much of the financial earning power on my back. Our financial life has been all over the map in our 31 years of marriage. We married when I was making $8,000 a year as an assistant  preschool teacher, which I loved, but he had a well paying job comparatively at a refinery, a job he greatly disliked . The rotating 24-7 schedule of the plant meant hours that sucked for a newly married couple. A year plus later, DS enter the picture and the hours really sucked even more. During that time as I had been taking classes while working, I finished school, got my teachers license, took on my own classroom, a better salary along with it. DS changed jobs with a lot less pay, but hours that worked for us. There has always been a balance to how we have approached our jobs and careers-neither making a decision in a vacuum, always looking at the big picture and not just minutia. We did that again when I went back to school over 20 years ago to get farther in my career, while working full time with two kids, shifting a lot more at home on his plate. I've since reminded him of that team effort that has always eventually meant life worked out.

We've battled lay offs and years when the costs of living were staggering-two kids in college plus child care for a third? Oh, were those years tight. We've also, like the first job change  DH made, intentionally had one of us change jobs even though the salary was lower. The intentional decisions were made through sorting out benefits and risks of course, but also how together, we would make the new budget work through different choices elsewhere. My points being, families need to work as a team financially, or chaos will ensue. It doesn't matter if you are living paycheck to paycheck, or have salaries that allow you a second home. When one spends and chooses their employment path in isolation from the other, I feel eventually priorities will collide. 

Here is a real story about an acquaintance of mine. Odd what people freely bring up over a girls night out with alcohol. She didn't work outside the home while raising kids, and even a few years after, but pretty much did everything for the household but manage the finances. She has just gotten her first job in 25 years after recently finding out her husband had set little to nothing aside for retirement. She's trying to catch-up now. They still have one child with two more years of college as well to pay for. Had she been aware of how little was set aside for their future, she casually said she would have gotten a part time job at least while the kids were in school. Had she known, a part time income might have funded a Roth and they would have had something more. Pure speculation on my part, but had she known more about her family's finances, she might have pressed her husband to put more in his retirement plan and made different financial choices about her current and older daughters college education. All her plans, in her head mind you, about how she and her husband would spend his retirement, are gone because she now feels like they will both need to work into their 70's. This isn't a dumb woman-she just saw their roles  very divided, each doing their part, but not talking about the financial long term. Her husband was worried about paying bills now, not future retirement. I too defer most of the long term money management to DH, but He manages to our combined plan. 

I don't know how DH's job will turn out. 2019 may look very different. Regardless, he doesn't own the fall out himself and I won't be carrying too much financial weight on my shoulders. We are a financial team, co-CEO's of our household corporation. 

14 comments:

  1. "...families need to work as a team financially, or chaos will ensue." I think you could amend this statement to "families need to work as a team, or chaos will ensue." Sometimes, you have to take on another position, so you better know how to play it. Also, (and maybe unrelated) I know from my DH's profession, that those without kids were often, when bidding for trips, referred to as "not having a family." Untrue.
    Great post. Best wishes.

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    1. Yesm team work applies in every aspect of a families life.

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  2. Agree. The lack of desire to "put all of the burden" on my husband on the earning front is why I've worked so long in a job I didn't find rewarding. Even though we'd saved enough to make that a semi-ridiculous concern. I'm very financially conservative, and we've been having a lot of very good & real conversations about the next 7-10 years & what our expectations are in terms of finances, etc. It's been very useful, but harder than I expected. (By harder, I don't mean arguing, but looking a little deeper at some of my own expectations, concerns, etc.)

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    1. Oh, I understand "hard." I found my job very rewarding, both emotionally and financially. I knew, thought, that if we ever had children, I expected myself to stay home with them. If we weren't able to make that hard choice, we would have chosen not to have kids. Not arguing, but a lot of weighing of priorities, and changing expectations.

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    2. As you both mention, these discussions and decisions are not easy. The present and the future need to be considered. Also, every family needs to decide for themselves priorities, without getting caught up n what other families decide is bet for theirs. Then, we all can make every decision we think aligns with our current and future priorities, and a curveball, uncontrollable by, can be thrown in.

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  3. That's a lovely post you've written Sam and a real tribute to your relationship. Sadly I didn't have that in mine - I tried to show my ex our budget but he used to get embarrassed I would say as he couldn't deal with the different currencies/exchange rates (we earned Swiss francs and live in France in the euro zone). I found it easy but one time I was in hospital for an extended period and he had to try to do it himself and he was "furious" as to where "I was spending all the money". Yeah right. The only spender in this family was him - I couldn't keep up with it. I tend to work "on the back of an envelope" - but it works for me. My own mortgage will shortly be paid off in 7 years instead of the original 17 and you know I'm going to retire early at Christmas, on a substantially lower pension than I thought but I don't care - I can make it. He insisted one time that everything had to be put in excel but then never entered any of his spending. He is bipolar so excessive spending can be a feature (and it certainly was in his case). Anyway, I'm back to the envelopes, have money in the bank - as for him - I have no idea but I can imagine. So like your friend, when only one person is in the know it will never work out - my problem was he didn't want to know and the spending of course. You are smart and you as a couple will definitely make it. Cheers. Anna

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    1. Crikey, that was almost as long as War and Peace - but it's a subject I feel very strongly about. Sorry about that!

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    2. We've had out battles, but overall, we think similarly and definitely have the same priorities. neither of us would ever be accused of trying to keep up with the Jones's. We've made a lot of financial blunders, but made them together!

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  4. Great post. I was a SAHM for 31 years- can you believe that? However, I knew what was going on financially and my husband worked for the same company all those years. He died suddenly at age 48 but since I knew how to 'run' things, my then 8 year old daughter and I managed well. I did not want to have to work outside the home and still be at home like I had for the 2 older kids and it all worked out. I started a career at age 55 when youngest could drive and still love my job. Talk about doing things opposite LOL. Also I was fortunate my husband's company let me continue with their excellent health care coverage! I realize now what a perk that was. You're going to be fine.

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    1. The company health care is an incredible asset, but deserved if your husband was a part of their team. Great on you for keeping your priorities in place, but then being brave and starting new adventures when you had more life experience than others in the work force!

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  5. Sam I have always had to be the major earning person in our family. My husband worked at a career he loved that made very little money. Also our religion really frowned on mothers working outside the home. After 10 years of hubby not working or working very little (seasonal layoffs) I just went back to work. I tried to work around my kids school schedule, doing many different things. Early morning teaching, after school teaching late night cleaning, sewing during the day,School directing. This way the kids were with me. It was so hard but it brought in enough to get by. Finally I snapped and started to add debt to keep up and that is where I got caught in the spiral. So hubs blamed me as I wanted more than he could provide. What can you provide on a take home of $1800.00 a month? Now factor in $400.00 for commuting and a full 10 % tithe to the church. He lives in a dream world that I provide.However I do have to say that his retirement is excellent and his medical benefits have continued for me until I reach 65 at no cost to us. Priceless.

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    1. Out my window, when the other spouse isn't involved in the finances, or doesn't want to be, or maybe just loves their job too much to be realistic, it is a recipe for disaster isn't it. We had good incomes but my husband could spend through both our salaries and more because he wouldn't be realistic.

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    2. Trying to stretch money that just isn't there is the recipe for disaster. I'm glad you are moving forward and out of your debt, Kim.

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  6. I have to say that as a single parent for a number of years I liked the fact that I had total control over my money. Yes it was less money since there was only the one income but I could make the money stretch like nobody's business when there was no one else to spend it. Your friend is an unfortunate example (which used to be the norm!!) of a wife having no idea about the family finances. I feel for her. I hope your hubby's job is safe but if not may he find something even better!

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