“In the pandemic, I felt like I couldn’t control anything. What I could control was spending on credit cards to buy activities for the kids, new home decor, and things that made us feel a little better about the state of the world.” ~ Bolder Money Member and mom of two
Nearly 80% of women in relationships manage the household finances, and 70% of mothers can expect to be the primary breadwinner for their household for at least one year.
At Bolder, we love seeing money managed by women, but we know parents face a harsh reality when it comes to their finances: according to Nerdwallet, 80% of parents with children under the age of 18 have credit card debt, compared with 58% of people who are not parents to children under 18.
I interviewed our Bolder moms (members of our coaching program who have children under the age of 18) to find out what it feels like to manage the household finances while having credit card debt, while raising kids, and while earning income.
(I also asked our coaching team, 50% of whom met this criteria at one point. And, I vividly remember my own experience of having $30,000 in credit card debt with two under the age of three).
i. Guilt. Guilt about not working enough. Guilt about working too much. Guilt about not earning enough. Guilt about spending too much. Guilt about not spending enough. I could go on and on, but the message is clear: there is so much pressure on moms to get the balance of work and spending on our kids right, that everyone feels like they are losing.
ii. Growing credit card balances. Spending on credit cards more than they are able to pay off each month is less obvious than we think: it looks like paying for groceries and kids’ expenses on the credit card, then making a big credit card payment when pay day arrives, and watching the balance slowly grow.
iii. ‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ I’ve heard this phrase from four different moms just in the last three days. It essentially means moving debt around instead of paying off the balance. We also see this in the form of saving money, only to transfer it back into our checking account to spend.
iv. Being underpaid. This applies to many women, and the moms I spoke to said they felt they had limited opportunities as a new parent, and hadn’t considered that higher pay was a possibility. They had accepted that ‘it’s a balance’ and ‘you can’t have it all’ meant that they should be grateful for the income they have while mothering. The harsh reality is that many of these moms watched others get promoted who could work 10-15 hour days, while they couldn’t compete at that level.
v. Feeling isolated. Parents of young children have a hard enough time communicating about parenting, let alone money issues. And moms who manage the household money can feel even more isolated from their partner if they aren’t aligned in spending, earning, or goals, and can struggle to find someone to talk to about their situation. It gets lonely out there.
Navigating these challenges can take time, and may require a shift in one’s relationship with money. If you’ve made it this far, it’s probably because you’re a mom who relates to these issues, and wants to know what you can do about it. Based on what we’ve seen make a difference in the financial lives of our Bolder moms, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 things moms can do to take back control of their money.
If you read the list below and feel overwhelmed or unsure of where to start, needing a guide to support you through these steps is ok (and can be affordable). Read the steps, and then scroll down to learn more about finding your own supermom money coach for only $40/month.
Next, shift to thinking about your value in terms of your impact, not your time. Can you only work 7 hours a day, while everyone else is working 18 hours? That’s their problem - what can you do to remind yourself of the impact you bring to the company in those 7 hours? Focus on that, and the projects you’ve accomplished, instead of how much time you’ve spent on them.
Make a list of what you’ve accomplished, and what you plan to accomplish, and set regular meetings with your supervisor to work on getting a raise or a promotion.
Don’t assume that you are limited because of time - if the company that you are at doesn’t recognize that, find one that does. If you struggle with this idea, start small. Just get curious, and reflect on what you’re currently making. Our free Money Maker Assessment will guide you through this exercise!
You don’t have to. I co-founded Bolder as a mom who knows what it feels like to be stuck in a debt cycle, and not know who to turn to for help.
We’re a team of coaches who understand what you’re going through, and are ready to help you with compassion and expert guidance, for as low as $40/month. Select our 3- or 6-month membership option and use coupon code BEBOLDER to reduce your price. And you can always try before you buy with our two-week free trial.
I’m here for you!
Co-Founder, Bolder Money
Mom, Jake (6) & Tommy (3)