Head of Household

by Dual Income No Kids on October 6, 2007 · 0 comments

Which spouse earns more money is increasingly an issue that couples today are faced with. Barbara Stanney brought this up in a recent post that I came across about how to handle couples finance when she makes more than he. She got me thinking about how James & I have dealt with issues of who makes more money. We DINKs have certainly faced this as an issue, but all and all it hasn’t been so hard to deal with.

When we first moved in together and I had recently moved to DC James made about a third more than I did. We established our joint budget by combining our salaries and splitting expenses by percentage of what was earned, i.e. we did a 40/60 split with James paying more.

As regular readers of our blog would know, James is currently in his third year of grad school working towards his Ph.D. I’ve been the bread winner for the last three years and we recently upped the ante with my recent assignment to Afghanistan.

Now I’m making a significant amount more than I was. In addition to this, the distance means that I’ll now be transfer money to James account for living expenses rather than just paying for household items. As you can imagine, it feels a bit different to be on an allowance of sorts rather than just having things taken care of.

The good thing is that I have a $10k spousal allowance that my job pays for. This makes it a bit easier to handle. Additionally Jame can be comforted by the fact that if we weren’t married I wouldn’t get that money without a spouse. Thus it seems pretty fairly earned by James in my book.

Though James has actually been far more supportive then most men in his situation we still tend to tread a bit lightly.

I also don’t think that James would have as much of issue with my making more if he had a full time job and could be more independent in his household contributions. We both recognize that depending on the paths we take in our careers it is a coin toss on who will make more money in the long term. If I stay in my current line of work it would likely be me. Yet if I shift my career or we move outside of Washington we will likely both make less.

In the long run we figure that it is a give and take. James made more initially and took care of a larger percentage of household items, now I’m taking more financial responsibility. Later we never know. For me I also consider the fact that if I ever decide to take time off for kids that I won’t feel like a burden on our finances. It’s more of an ebb and flow.

Barbara also mentioned that some women can feel resentful for their spouse not sucking it up and getting paid more. I could certainly see how that might be the case if there wasn’t the potential or drive. In our case James is working hard towards his Ph.D. and I have all confidence that he will regain his earning potential after he is back in the job market.

One last note that I find of interest, many of my girlfriends joke that they would love to find a sugar mama like myself. I find it interesting, as they would likely have as hard of a time being supported by a man as James does relying on me. Just food for thought.

I’d love to hear from our readers on how they’ve dealt with this situation.



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