This is a more emotionally charged post today, I admit that after I told my husband what I saw at the check out line, I was tearful.
I don’t want to be financially dependent on a man.
I was doing my usual evening after-the-kids-are-asleep grocery store run at No Frills, and was in the check-out line. I hear the words:
“you dumb b*tch”
and more words in a non-English language behind me.
I heard it again “you dumb b*tch”. I heard sort of more English “you think you’re so smart, huh” mixed with the other language.
I see two young girls (probably around 5 and 3) with their mother (the words were directed at her). She was standing tall and just looked at her husband, did not smile or say a word, and she walked away to look at toothbrushes with her daughters while he waited in line. She, unlike her husband, did not have English fluency. He looked like he was the one with the power in the relationship.
I know that I have no idea what went on, maybe she did something that really upset him, I don’t know. Maybe it was unprovoked and he just talks to her like that all the time to exert his dominance and make himself feel more powerful.
All I know is that I don’t often hear domestic disputes in public, and when I do, I can’t help but think that it probably is much worse at home, behind closed doors….Does he hit her? Does he verbally abuse her all the time? Does he call her stupid like how my dad used to call my mom that when they would argue?
He wasn’t just rude to his wife, he was also rude to the cashier.
As I was bagging up my groceries, his groceries sort of merged with the woman’s in front of him because she bought a lot of groceries and wasn’t finished bagging them up.
He then said to the female cashier “Did you see what you just did right there? You messed up my groceries. Do you even pay attention to your job? Can you pay more attention next time and do your job properly?”
We all looked at each other. The cashier, the other shopper in front of him, and myself. Without any words spoken, you could tell we were all afraid of him. I was afraid to say anything to him and make eye contact with him.
WHy I Want Control Of My Own Money
This is why I want control of my own money and why I don’t want to be financially dependent on a man. This is why I would not feel comfortable being a SAHM (stay at home mom) without my own savings, investments, passive income, and retirement money.
The Motherhood Penalty is already strong enough.
This is why I want joint and separate finances, and why I feel comfortable with separate finances even though my partner makes more than I do. This is why I want to keep working, even if it is in a part time capacity. Money, in a way, is self-esteem.
According to a International Social Survey Programme: “Employed women raised by working mothers were 1.29 times more likely to supervise others at work, spent roughly 44 additional minutes at their jobs and reported significantly higher annual incomes, according to the data.”
Money is power, and because women do much more of the emotional labour, the household management labour, household finances labour, and child rearing labour and don’t get recognized by society for this invisible non-monetarily tied labour, men typically have the power in the relationship if they are the ones working.
I don’t want to ask my husband if I can buy a pair of shoes that I want from our joint budget. I don’t want to feel even more guilt than I do already as a mom, for spending money from our family account on a pair of shoes for myself, even if it’s money from Child Tax Benefit payments.
Money is Freedom
Money gives you financial independence, and pursuing financial independence is even more important for women. As women, we sacrifice a lot especially as we go into motherhood. You sacrifice your body, your time, your self identify, and your ability to work. Child rearing and parenting, is a lot of work (this is an understatement) and often falls on the female parent.
Many women end up taking reduced workloads (part-time, or even becoming a stay at home parent) because of this. Either by choice or because daycare is too expensive. Even with daycare and both parents working full-time, women usually ends up taking more of ‘the load’ of unpaid labour of household management.
- Emotional labour- Planning vacations, make sure your child is registered for toddler swim classes when the registration opens and not a minute later because the spots will be full, making sure your toddler has the proper shoe sizes and all the hand-me downs are all sorted.
- Organizing play dates or socialization with other children
- Pick up and drop offs from school or daycare or extracurricular activities
- Meal planning, cooking, grocery shopping, washing dishes
- Laundry, cleaning the home
- etc. etc.
None of this work is typically recognized by society as ‘useful work’ because it is not paid work, yet it is so important.
Get Involved With the Finances
This is why it is important to get involved with the family finances, even if it seems foreign and not interesting to you right now.
According to CNBC, 58% of women leave the financial decisions for the family (e.g. investing) to their spouses. I’m not sure why this number is high, maybe it is because after all the emotional labour, the meal preparing, laundry, and household management, there is little time or energy to be involved with the family finances.
Make it a regular thing where you talk about where the money is invested, where the investments are at and how they are performing. Better yet, invest your own money separate from the family finances and you will feel empowered because you realize you can do it, and it’s not that scary or hard to DIY invest.
If you don’t want to be involved with the finances or your husband doesn’t let you, get your own bank account. The mom of one of my colleagues who went through a bitter divorce told her to always have her own bank account separate from the husband. It can be secret if need be. She was appreciative and happy (unfortunately) that she heeded to this parental advice.
Don’t depend on a man for money
This is why I don’t want to ever be financially dependent on a man, and I want to raise my daughter to be strong and independent, and for her not be financially dependent on a man.
I want her to choose a good man who will respect her as a woman, and not see her as his emotional punching bag, or see her as his property where he can verbally abuse her at his whim at a check out line at No Frills.
Maybe I am more sensitive to this now that I have a daughter. It’s funny that I want this for my own daughter, as my mom herself never really pushed us to choose financially lucrative careers.
I hope that woman I saw at the checkout line is doing okay.
How was the power dynamics between your parents?
Were they both working when you were growing up?
If you are a SAHP (Stay at Home Parent) how do you keep the money-power-relationship balanced?
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GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.