This morning I was having a look around Girls Just Wanna have Funds, a personal finance blog that you’ve probably heard of. It was with some surprise and an increasing sinking feeling that I happened upon the article ‘Stay at home wives: the new status symbol?’
Note, that’s ‘wives’, not ‘mothers’.
The article considered the question of whether women that choose to stay at home while their husbands worked were ‘freeloaders, or simply doing what works for them’. Ginger, the author, concludes that she has no problem with the idea of stay at home wives, and furthermore, plans to do exactly that, arguing:
“This isn’t 5 steps back for the feminist women movement as some have said outright, this is a choice, and we should be happy that more women have the choice to work, not work, work inside the home, work outside the home or hell, sit at home eating Bon Bons all day while curled up on the couch”.
No argument there. Feminism is all about the right to choose. What bothers me though is that the website’s tag-line is “breaking financial ceilings one stiletto at a time”, and I don’t really see any financial ceilings being smashed in this article. Or even much financial sense, as Ginger’s main argument runs, she’s going to choose this because she can, reasoning that:
“My husband and I live on one income which makes our financial situation more secure than a two income household where if one person loses a job, the other must shoulder the burden until the other spouse obtains new employment”.
Pardon? That statement really had me scratching my head. Surely that makes your financial situation less stable than that of a couple where both people work. Unless I’m missing something here. What if her husband loses his job? (Let’s hope he doesn’t work in the financial industry, at least). At least when both people work the income is only halved if one person were to lose their job. In fact, I would argue that furthermore, it would be easier for the remaining working half of the couple to increase their income if needed, to bring in extra money. It’s a lot easier to find a higher paying job when you’re already in the work force, up-to-date with what’s happening in the industry, rather than if you found yourself needing to find a job after ten years of surfing e-bay.
I do agree that, unfortunately, it has become some sort of retro status symbol for a man to have a stay at home wife (or vice versa if the wife is the high-earner). Take a look at the senior management of the company you work for, do their wives – or husbands – work? I am constantly astounded by the number of women I meet when at work events and parties with FruGuy, when being introduced to his colleagues and their wives, none of the wives work – and not all of them have children.
Which of course, begs the big question: am I a little jealous of these women? It might be tempting to think so. But then, we could live off FruGuy’s income alone, but… I enjoy working. And more importantly, I don’t think I would watch FruGuy get out of bed each morning, while I rolled over and went back to sleep. I don’t think I could see him come home tired and stressed after long days and exhausting stretches of business travel, while I… what? Sit about all day spending his money and eating bon bons? I don’t think so.
And equally as important, what about the financial independence of women who choose this option? Ginger says that the things that would make her feel secure as a stay at home wife include being provided for in her spouse’s will, having the assets in both names, having all bank accounts in both names, having access to and full disclosure around all household and personal finances, and being factored into 401k contributions.
That, however, is not financial independence. Being entitled to half your husband’s money in the event of divorce or his death might make you financially secure, yes; but not independent. And even then, the fact of being married doesn’t always mean you will be entitled to half in the event of a divorce, especially if your husband was wealthy when you married him and there are no children involved. Not in the UK, anyway.
Personally, I would want to know that if I woke up one morning and wanted to leave, I could do so and not need to rely whatsoever on the talents of my divorce lawyer in order to ensure that I could live comfortably and retire with a private pension.
Have you noticed more women choosing this as a viable option? What do you think of it? Would you consider being completely reliant on your other half, even if you didn’t have children?