I’ve been working with several couples lately where one spouse makes plenty of money – more than enough to support the family – and the other makes very little, if at all. Stereotypically, of course, it’s a husband who’s earning and the wife who isn’t, but I’ve seen this happen where the situation is reversed, in same-sex couples, both male and female.
The lower-earning spouse is usually doing more with the children and managing the household by dealing with bills, and home repairs, planning the trips, doing the cooking and shopping, etc. The list is endless.
All of this makes sense when everyone is living under one roof. It’s a division of labor, and both spouses are part of a team. But those roles get severed in a divorce – and that can create a crisis – particularly for the lower earner. Now she (and let’s face it, it usually is a she) has to (1) get financially literate and (2) figure out how to get back into the workforce and start earning full tilt.
Even if she is the person who initially wanted the divorce, this can be terrifying. After all, women’s average household income decreases by 41% after divorce, almost twice that of men. (CNBC).
One resource I’ve found that is particularly useful for helping women handle their new financial reality is a non-profit called Savvy Ladies, which was created by my friend and colleague, Stacy Francis. Savvy Ladies has a free financial education for women – particularly divorcees and widows. They have lots of articles and courses on their website, and they have a helpline where they will match callers with a financial advisor who can help them. It’s a fantastic offering.