Why did you want to write this book?
We know by now that women are increasingly becoming the chief breadwinners in their families. There have been studies, books and discussions all about this trend in recent years. But, more importantly, what we are not openly discussing is how to thrive when you are the female breadwinner, not just financially and professionally but in your relationship, too.
The fact of the matter is, when she makes more, the relationship faces challenges that are very unique and potentially damaging. The marriage runs a 50% higher risk for divorce. He’s more likely to cheat and she is more likely to feel burnt out and, sometimes quite resentful of what feels like “doing it all.”
I’ve been helping individuals and couples with their finances for over 10 years and this was the first time where I saw a financial complexity really shaking things up in relationships to the point where there was no established guide or recipe on how to make your partnership succeed when you, as the woman, earn more. Emotionally and psychologically, this is heavy stuff! And as someone who is in this demographic, making more than her husband, writing this book was quite personal, as well.
What do you think is fueling all of these challenges?
Like it or not many of these challenges stem from our biology, as well as how we’ve been socialized and raised. For example, men generally feel the need to be the “alpha” in order to feel attractive. They need to “provide,” and that, traditionally, has meant to “financially” provide. Women, no matter how much money they earn, innately still want to feel “taken care of” in some capacity by their mate. And while society has evolved and we’re making progress in terms of gender parity, when she makes more, our lower animal brain can’t help but think, “What does this mean for my status?” These sometimes unconscious – though fundamental — human needs can go unrecognized or unappreciated and can lead to trouble in a marriage where she earns the bigger paycheck.
What’s the promise?
When She Makes More serves as the ultimate guidebook for any modern woman who wants to successfully navigate her money, career, family and relationship in the event that she earns more, and all without guilt, shame or fear.
Along the way, this book promises to provide answers breadwinning women desperately seek, like how to:
- Manage money in your relationship without you feeling stressed and him feeling left out
- Avoid resentment
- Boost intimacy
- Make your man still feel like a hero AND want to do more for you
- Avoid the trap of being the woman who “does it all” and take advantage of the smartest ways to delegate.
- And, if you’re single, quickly figure out whether you’ve found Mr. Right, or if you need to cut your losses and move on.
How did you get started?
I began as an editorial intern in college for Money Magazine. I learned from the pros how to make personal finance digestible, interesting, and colorful for all audiences. I caught the journalism bug that summer and after graduating college, enrolled at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. Once immersed in NYC, the land of opportunity, my media career took flight from there.
What made you start a career in finance?
For one, I’m a very practical person. Finance seemed like a very practical industry because it meant helping people with an incredibly important thing in life – their money. Also, I noticed the field really lacked female leadership and I wanted to change the perception that money is a “man’s domain.”
What was your first job like?
After my internship at Money and a short stint there after graduate school, I got my first real job-job at NY1 News as a business producer. There I was in charge of booking, shooting, writing, editing, and developing all business content for the cable news provider. It was quite the learning curve, to say the least. I was terrible for the first few months and had moments where I thought it would be best to quit, but I knew the job was an incredible opportunity. I made it my goal to master the role – no matter what it took – and soon enough I was not just producing, but also reporting on camera. That was my first TV job and it’s where I learned how to tell a financial story – from both behind and in front of the camera.
What was your first money moment?
I remember being five years old and trying to negotiate an allowance with my parents. I hated the idea of going to the mall with my mom and not having any freedom to buy what I wanted without begging or pleading. I longed for the day I’d have my own money because, even at that young age, I knew money meant freedom. I think I negotiated something like $3 or $4 a week. I can’t tell you what I did what that money, but just that the feeling of being in control – even of just a little bit of money – was priceless.
Because you make more in your relationship, what sacrifices have you had to make?
I don’t have the option to take a break from work when we have kids in the near future. I also feel there’s more pressure on me to maintain our standard of living since my income is what primarily supports it.
Does earning more affect the intimacy of your own relationship?
Fortunately for me and my husband, it doesn’t interfere with our intimacy. His sense of self-worth doesn’t depend on his ability to be the breadwinner. It doesn’t mess with his “mojo,” so to speak. I’m lucky in that way.
Do you have female role models who have earned more and what have you learned from them?
Fortunately I have a number of role models and I’ve sought out even more since embarking on writing When She Makes More. Many have taught me to “lean in” to my relationship, to be truly present in my marriage, to be more consciously attentive to my husband, and to be honest with myself and with him when I’m not happy. I have found that constant communication is the absolute key to avoiding resentment, confusion and hurt feelings.
What are the myths and facts of earning more?
Some myths are that when the woman makes more in the relationship. For one, she may assume she’s a great “catch,” given that she’s successful and financially independent. After all, that’s what often makes men a “catch,” right? But by earning more, she may struggle more with the finding the type of “Mr. Right who will readily embrace her financial strengths. Another myth is that by making more, she may feel more relaxed about her finances but what I find is that she may have just as many, if not more, insecurities about her financial well-being. Finally, when she makes more she may assume that there’s nothing she can do to help her guy feel more comfortable about the size of her paycheck, but in fact there is a lot she can do to help, if he’s feeling emasculated by her breadwinner status.
What is it about the way you grew up that defined / cemented how you think about money today?
I grew up learning first hand from my immigrant parents, as they settled in the U.S. following the Iranian revolution with just a couple suitcases and my dad’s student VISA to their name. They taught me that persistence, hard work, and ambition can translate into financial security and even wealth. My greatest privilege wasn’t our family’s financial means – it was seeing my parents’ independent, hard work pay off – slowly but steadily. And that has really cemented the way I think about money – that anyone can build a great financial life with the proper mindset and determination.
Also, seeing how much my parents compromised to create a better life for their children means I have no excuse but to work hard, aim for success, and live up to their expectations for us. I sort of owe it to them NOT to make a mess of my life – financial and otherwise.
What is one piece of advice about personal finance that has stuck with you that you would share?
Everyone deserves to have financial security, but it’s up to you to make it happen. No one cares more about your financial security and happiness than you. So, what are you waiting for?
What are five words you would use to describe your philosophy about money, security, financial happiness?