Things become more complicated when you take on the role of a stay-at-home partner. Not only do you have to figure out how to maintain your lifestyle on one income, but you also have to find an emotional balance. If your partner is the only one bringing the bread home, it’s not uncommon to encounter unjustified feelings of guilt or inequality.
Our culture closely ties self-esteem to the idea of having a career and earning an income. If you stay at home with children or try your hand at entrepreneurship, It can seem unbalanced when your partner feels like they are carrying all of the financial weight while you feel the burden of doing all of the chores, when really, all you need is to strike a healthy balance to keep everyone happy.
In order to better balance your family life, take inventory of a few things you can do to maintain you and your partner’s emotional well-being.
Keep your finances where you can see them
It’s no secret that money is the root of many an argument. Every couple has different spending habits. Your partner might not have a problem spending on Amazon, whereas you might feel like tightening your belt when it comes to budgeting. A great way to balance your family life is to keep your finances where you can see them. This means setting aside regular time with your partner to go over your financials together.
As partners who share every aspect of your life together, you should treat your money management process with the same spirit of cooperation. Write down how much income was brought in and how much money needs to be set aside for bills, debt and discretionary expenses.
When you see the actual results, it can be a surprise to both of you. You may find out that you do really well in some categories that stress you out while struggling in others you thought you had under control. By looking over the family budget together, you can make decisions on how to improve your cash-flow in the next month. It’s also a good idea to set goals for spending. Money spent on things that you consider personal needs (like daily Starbucks) may not always seem that way to your partner.
Communicating your shared budget on a regular basis gets everything out into the open so that the give-and-take scales are more balanced. This can decrease resentment in the future and fosters the spirit of openness in your relationship.
Running a household takes more than just money
Stay-at-home partners may not bring home a paycheck, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have financial rights or responsibilities. If your partner is the one producing the main source of income, you might decide to take on the responsibility of managing the bills. Sorting through bills and managing your finances can be a time consuming but necessary chore. Communicate this to your partner in a positive manner. By expressing the things you’ve done to help the family, your partner can see how you keep the household running.
In addition to paying bills, you might choose to take on meal planning or grocery shopping in general. Food can be a big budget buster for some, so keeping this expense down to a minimum might help ease your one-income woes. Meal planning could be as easy as making a list prior to heading to the grocery store and only buying what’s on the list. Try meal prepping on the weekends to curb the temptation to eat out.
Little tasks add up, too. Whether it’s sending a birthday card to your mother-in-law or tidying up the bathroom, little contributions can help keep life as a couple more balanced. Acknowledging the little things that each of you have done makes you aware that family balance is about more than just bringing home a paycheck.
Increase income without adding a second full-time job
If you want to contribute financially to your family, there are several ways to earn income without adding a second full-time job. You can start a blog based on your hobbies or skill sets and monetize it. Skills from a former job could pay off in the form of freelancing. Make a list of potential clients and start sending out inquiries. Freelance designers, photographers and writers have the opportunity to make money from home.
Another underrated way to convert clutter into usable income is by selling unwanted items using buy-and-sell apps. There are two great benefits to this: You generate added income while decluttering your home. Even listing a few items for sale and working directly with buyers can bring in some income to support your family.
Big or small, finding opportunities to earn supplemental income can help you relieve any unjustified feelings you might have that you aren’t contributing enough. 15 minutes spent taking online surveys or teaching English online could supplement your discretionary income or help you pay down existing debt.
Balance how you bank
When you and your partner haven’t determined how to bank together, it can be stressful to talk about money. Balance happiness and family life by choosing the right types of bank accounts you need as a couple. Selecting the right setup, whether it be separate or joint accounts, is important because it dictates how you conduct your financial lives. Separate accounts may require you to move money between accounts while joint accounts can blend your purchase patterns together. Either way, decide what’s best for your household together to keep things balanced.
It’s a good idea to set aside a separate joint savings account for emergencies. Keep these funds in a high-yield savings account in order to accrue the maximum interest possible to grow your family’s nest egg without changing your current income or spending habits. Better yet, consider setting aside separate joint savings funds dedicated towards specific goals, whether they’re intended for buying a new family car, remodeling your home or funding your children’s tuition.
Consider setting up automatic contributions toward specific savings goals. This can help you stay on track as a team without having to think about it every month. In turn, your happiness levels increase. Being able to save up for a new car or a down payment together can put you more in tune with your partner. Instead of looking at your household as a one-sided affair, look for ways to partner together on shared goals.