According to a recent Pew Research study, mothers are the primary or sole breadwinners in 40 percent of American households.
This is up nearly 30 percent from 1960, when only 11 percent of families were supported by moms. This upward trend of women as top household earner has never before been seen in the U.S.
Women currently make up 47 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to the Center for American Progress. As companies continue efforts to diversify their workforce, and compete to provide career and advancement opportunities for women, the traditional roles of American families are shifting to a "new normal."
This new dynamic represents an increase of spouses and partners who would traditionally be in the workplace, taking on primary caregiving and stay-at-home duties. As people adapt to the shift, opportunities are presented to reevaluate traditional family and household responsibilities.
One area critical for couples to address as they navigate this new landscape is financial planning. Previously, the financial future of the family was perceived to be a masculine duty. Does this mean that women, as financial providers, should take the checkbook and manage the finances of the household, independent of their partner or spouse?
Absolutely not! An isolated approach to finances does not consider the needs of the whole family.
When it comes to the financial health of your family, decisions need to be discussed and addressed as a team. Every team needs a coach, a point person who manages the schedule and keeps everyone on track, but major decisions regarding investing and planning require input that is balanced and addresses the needs of the family as a whole.
Women tend to be strategic, long-term investors, while men are confident and disciplined when approaching financial planning. A good strategy for reaching goals, whether planning for retirement, saving for college or investing, employs the strengths both people bring to the table. Maintaining an open dialogue is critical to a solid financial roadmap.
Additionally, meeting with a financial planner to ask questions, share ideas and explore options can help people stay on track and take advantage of the opportunities available to them.
When all parties are involved in the financial planning and investment process, they have a stake in it and are committed to work together to see it through and achieve their goals.
Juan Baron is a wealth management adviser and the managing director for Northwestern Mutual in West Los Angeles. Baron serves on the board of managers for the Westside Family YMCA and the board of directors for the Inland Empire Latino Lawyers Association Inc. Baron is a certified financial planner, a chartered life underwriter and a chartered financial consultant.
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