In 1950, Lefty Frizzell struck gold with his first number one hit, “If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time.” The following year he was the first performer to have four records in Billboard’s Top Ten simultaneously, a feat unmatched until a quartet from Liverpool showed up. As Lefty points out, finances (or the lack thereof) can strain relationships, “If you run short of money, I’ll run short of time.”
Today it is not uncommon for wives to earn more than their husbands. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 40 percent of wives make more than their spouses. Interestingly, in those cases, the Census Bureau found wives tended to underreport their salaries while husbands inflated theirs. Sometimes men, especially fragile ones, can’t be seen as financial bonsai in a forest of towering Georgia pines. If I can get over it, you can, too. This month my wife and I celebrate 39 years of marriage and many of them she earned more than I did. Don’t forget; men are fighting evolution — birds with showy plumage are male. Like financial planning, it’s a process.
Economic disparities between couples can create stress in a relationship, but younger couples tend to struggle less than older generations. A Cornell University study published in the journal Demographics found cohabitating couples who earn similar incomes are more likely to marry and less likely to divorce or separate. The author, Patrick Ishizuka, a post-doctoral fellow examined the Census Bureau’s “Survey of Income and Program Participation” from 1996-2013. His work suggests younger couples place more value on equal status than older generations. Demographers call it “a marriage bar” where once economic standards associated with marriage like buying a home are reached couples are more likely to marry and stay married. Perhaps a happy relationship is not necessarily tied to a man’s ability to be a good provider. Even though roles are evolving, a Pew Research Center from 2017 showed gender-specific norms still prevail. Forty percent of Americans surveyed said it was essential for the father to provide income for his children, but only 25 percent said the same for their mothers.
Culturally, we fail to appreciate the difficulties stay-home parents face; it’s a tough job. A young mom, after six weeks of parental leave, said going back to work was more comfortable than staying home with two little ones. People like to complain about Social Security because they don’t know any better (or they’ve been duped). Social Security spousal benefits were an initial attempt in American society to place a value on stay-home parenting. A spouse who never worked outside the home is entitled (not a dirty word) to 50 percent of the working spouse’s benefit. A stay-home widow or widower is entitled to 100 percent of the deceased spouse’s benefit.
You can’t always get what you want but Buz Livingston, CFP can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit livingstonfinancial.net or drop by 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.