Tips for Women Who Are the Primary Breadwinner

Over the past few years, women increasingly have found themselves in the role of primary breadwinner of their household as a result of:

  • The recession's effect on industries that disproportionately employed men
  • Being divorced or widowed
  • Choosing to remain single or marry later

How women adapt to this role can have a strong impact on their financial future.

If you are or have suddenly found yourself to be the primary breadwinner of your family, these tips may help you and your family.

Tips for Married Women

If you have suddenly found yourself as the primary breadwinner of your family as a result of a spouse’s or partner’s unemployment or underemployment, these tips may help you and your family adapt to this major change:

  • Establish expectations. Since your responsibilities have been altered, decide who will take control of such duties as child care and daily household maintenance.
  • Explain the household changes to your children. Children have certain expectations from both parents. If you're no longer able to fulfill certain needs, let them know up front who will be taking over.
  • Ask for help. To take some of the stress off yourself and your spouse, get help around the house whenever possible. If you have older kids, ask them to help out with chores or to babysit your younger kids.
  • Get insurance coverage for both the breadwinner and the stay-at-home spouse. If you weren't previously covered by a life insurance policy, purchase one now to help protect the income you bring into the household.
  • Get your finances in order. Take time to review your finances with your financial professional to ensure that your portfolio supports the changes within your family.
  • Talk with a counselor. Many couples find it difficult adjusting to their new roles in the household and benefit from talking with a neutral party.

Tips for Single Women

If you are the breadwinner as a result of choosing to be single or being divorced or widowed, these tips may help you plan for your situation:

  • Save for a rainy day. Since you are the sole provider for your household, it’s important that you save enough money to weather an unemployment situation. A cushion of six months’ salary is a good start.
  • Save for retirement. Whether through a company 401(k) plan or an individual retirement account (IRA), you should save for retirement.
  • Get life insurance coverage. Purchase a life insurance policy and designate a close family member to be your beneficiary so that he or she can pay off any expenses should something happen to you.
  • Work with a financial professional. A financial professional can help you set up a financial plan that includes investment accounts, retirement plans, and insurance policies so that you can feel better prepared for the future.

The Prudential Insurance Company of America, Newark, NJ