Saturday, June 12, 2010

Talking Money at Work

Yesterday at lunch I had an interesting conversation with some colleagues about working after you have kids. I am nowhere near this position, so I was more listening than anything else. Now, I am all about women having options. If you can stay home and you want to, go for it. If you want to go back to work, that's great too.

Two of my friends were both commenting that while they could both technically stay home, it would require sacrifices to their lifestyles that they didn't want to make. For one of them, that made sense to me, but to hear the other talk of the "sacrifices" she would have to just felt odd to me. "I want to be able to shop without worrying about what I'm spending" or "I want to be able to go on nice vacations...I'm not doing sleeping bags" and "I don't want to sacrifice at this point in my life. And why should I?"

Now don't get me wrong. People can spend their money however they want to, and both of these women seem to have their finances in order. And I'd be lying if I said I don't even plan on taking a nice vacation or buying designer clothes in the future. But as someone who grew up in a house where my family really did make sacrifices so my mom could stay home (hand-me-downs, rarely a vacation, only eating out with coupons, etc.) it was weird to think of not being able to travel to Europe as a sacrifice. It bothered me on a level I can't completely explain.

Part of it is also knowing how little most people have. The "why should I sacrifice?" mentality forgets about all of those who sacrifice in ways we can't even imagine. I also think the sense of entitlement rubs me the wrong way. I talked with one of the women after, and we agreed that people's financial backgrounds totally affect how you view these issues. And that money conversations are complicated and should be handled sensitively. But it was certainly interesting...


  1. I think the part the does rub me a bit, is the why should "I" have to sacrifice. Assumedly, it'd benefit their children, but their unwilling to give up luxuries for that end. Now it's easy enough to rationalize that it'd affect their child's quality of life as well I suppose. My feelings on it are best held by the twitter hash tag #firstworldproblems.

  2. That rubs me wrong, too.

    It's like...ok but don't ya see that your kids are also sacrificing something?

    And don't assume they have their financial lives together. They could very well have tons of debt!

    We're a one-income family, sorta. I'm a SAHM but I do a little freelance. We have no debt and because of that, we have a lot of money leftover each month that we can put toward whatever goal we want.

    If a fancy vacation was a priority, we'd make it happen!

    It bugs me when parents feel like their lives are worse off after having kids. It doesn't have to be that way! You can still have a fun, exciting adventure.

  3. I guess I should clarify, that her wanting to come back to work after she has kids doesn't rub me the wrong way...I don't know what I'll want to do, but I can understand still wanting to do the job you love. Especially teaching, which is draining but does have a pretty kid-friendly schedule.