When my husband, Russ, and I met in 1996, we
had very different financial backgrounds. Our
families spent, made, saved, and talked about
money in very different ways. I was a full-time
college student walking into another large slice
of debt by going to law school; he was working
full-time and had no debt at all. To top it all off,
to me, financial literacy meant shopping for a
It took a lot of work together to get on the same
page financially. We each had things to teach
the other, and we each had to be willing to look
at things in a new way. Since my Chi Omega
legacy was born, I have worked anywhere from
full-time to three days per week.
As a mom returning to the workforce after having
a child, I learned some amazing financial
lessons from my Chi Omega Sisters. While I
would have eventually learned them on own, it
was a lot easier to build on their lessons, so I
will share them with you.
Your salary does not always reflect what you
are actually making.
Continuing to work often
means paying for day care or a nanny, commuting
costs, and dry cleaning bills. With two
careers and children, you may often find yourself
spending money rather than time—hiring
someone to clean your house, using a grocery
delivery service, sometimes eating prepared
foods and take-out rather than cooking from
scratch, laundry services, using babysitters.
These choices may or may not be right for your
family, but, if they are, be certain to account for
them when you are budgeting.
Be sure to consider emotional factors, as well
as financial factors.
There are times when financial
factors mean that there is no decision
to make. However, if your finances allow you to
consider whether or not to work, don’t let the
finances make the decision alone. I have known
families that tightened belts and cut back because
it was a priority that one parent be home.
There have been other families who decided to
be two-career families, even though the second
career did not add much to their family income
after considering all of the costs—because that
was the way to have two happy parents. No one
can answer this for you, and your initial answer
may change over time.
Since we have decided to be a two-career family,
we know there is a lot of juggling that will
happen, and a lot of required record keeping. It
can be all too easy to miss a payment deadline!
There is little my husband loves more than a
spreadsheet, and he manages a comprehensive
one tracking all aspects of our financial life.
With a few key strokes, he can tell you how adjusting
any item of income or expense will impact
our long-term goals, and even knows the
“Taddeo Family Cost of Capital.” Not everyone
has the time, knowledge, or desire to create
such a spreadsheet. Luckily, you don’t have to.
There are many great tools out there: Mint.com
, and others. Some
focus on budgeting, others on helping you pay
your bills on time. A little time online with
your spouse can help you determine which is
right for you.
Even with the best organization and tracking,
one of you may go off budget sometimes.
The best way to get back on track is to make a
budget date at a time when you can focus on
each other. During this time, you can figure
out what went wrong and how to fix it. It may
be that spending has to be adjusted or that the
goals weren’t realistic and tangible enough.