Tag Archives: Money

A Woman’s Work on Economic Equality is Never Done

This blog is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival!

A divorced janitor, a 27-year employee and the mother of a seventeen-year old son with the mental capacity of an 18-month old, fails to report for mandatory overtime one Saturday when her son’s caregiver could not work because of a sick child. She calls twice and leaves a message for her manager. She gets fired.

As I read about this woman in Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter by Joan Williams, I wondered what this mother’s take would be on Jonah Goldberg’s proclamation in the Los Angeles Times this spring that “Feminism as a ‘movement’ in America is largely played out. Continue reading

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Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Current News & Events, Economy, Gender Issues, Money, Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood, stereotypes, Work-Life Fit, Workplace and Employment

6 Biggest Money Mistakes Mothers Make

Tonight I’ll be leading the chapter meeting for our local Mothers & More chapter on “The 6 Biggest Money Mistakes Mothers Make.” Join us and bring a long a new or gently used purse for our donation to Elizabeth house! Here are the “mistakes” I’ll be discussing with moms tonight.

1. Making “To Work or Not To Work” Decisions Based Solely on Short-Term Family Budget

When mothers wrestle with questions about whether to stay employed or not, or whether to scale back employment to make room for family, the conversation usually centers on whether the current family budget can afford those changes. Can we still pay the mortgage or rent? Could we trim expenses to make up for lost income?

Too often, all the longer-term implications are left out. How will this decision impact my ability to save for retirement? My Social Security benefits? How will this decision impact my future earning potential?

Whenever faced with an employment or financial decision, ask yourself:

How will this decision affect the short- AND long-term finances of my family?

How will this decision affect my own short- AND long-term financial security?

2. Falling Into the “Can I make enough to pay for childcare?” Trap

When our daughter was born, my husband had just started his second year at a law firm and I had just been laid off from a part-time job. We sat down together to decide whether I should look for a new job or not. Estimating the income we thought I could make in a job with reasonable hours, we subtracted taxes, childcare, and work expenses. There wasn’t much left. Working for pay didn’t pay much. So we decided I wouldn’t, because we could afford for me not to.

Three different things lead many mothers into this trap. Continue reading


Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Career-Life Fit, Economy, Money, Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood Tips, stereotypes

Tax Day Question: Can I Make Enough to Pay for Childcare?

When our daughter was born, my husband had just started his second year at a law firm and I had just been laid off from a part-time job. We sat down together to decide whether I should look for a new job or not. The question we asked ourselves was, “Could I make enough to pay for childcare?” If not, we reasoned, it would make sense for me to take care of our baby myself.

Little did we know that the question had nothing to do with the cost of childcare and everything to do with tax policy.

You see, before World War II, the United States used an income tax system of separate filing for married couples in which tax rates applied to each spouse’s income separately.* As Ed McCaffery, author of Taxing Women, explains in his book, when the war ended and the costs of war went away, Congress saw an opportunity to reduce taxes. They did it by eliminating separate filing and replacing it with mandatory joint filing for couples. At the time, Congress also had an interest in wanting families to return to normal. In other words, they wanted mothers who had entered the workforce during the war to go back home. Joint filing would encourage them to do just that. As the legislative counsel of the treasury at the time remarked, “Wives need not continue to master the details of . . . business, but may turn . . . to the pursuit of homemaking.”

Joint filing introduced what McCaffery calls the “secondary earner bias.” The one who earns less, even today usually the woman, will be taxed more, which acts as a powerful but unseen disincentive for her to be employed.

Sue Hill Zamparelli for "This is Not How I Thought It Would Be"

How does it work? Married couples filing jointly are required to combine their incomes, no matter who earns what. However, the money doesn’t go into a common pool that is all taxed at the same rate.  As my friend Kimberly Tso explains in her blog post at The Two Penny Project, “Our federal income tax system uses graduated marginal rates. This is how to think about it: Imagine each dollar that you earn is stacked one on top of the other. Next, picture a large wedding cake next to the stack of dollar bills. Each tier of the cake (called the tax bracket) has a corresponding tax rate that increases as you go up each tier. …You only incur the higher tax rate if your stack of bills reaches that layer.” (See picture for example using hypothetical tax rates.) The policy goal of taxing the top layers more is for individuals who earn more to pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes compared to those who earn less.

For a couple, combining the incomes into one stack and then applying increasing rates to each layer has another effect—the secondary earner bias. When my husband and I faced the question of whether I should find a job or not, we thought of his job and his income as primary because he already had a job and he earned more. So we also thought of his income as first in the stack—where it would get taxed at lower rates. Continue reading


Filed under Economy, Marriage, Money, Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood

On Carpool and “A Market Punishing to Mothers”

I was about to go to sleep tonight when I thought I’d just quick check my New York Times app on my iPhone. There in the Latest News list was a piece by David Leonhardt – A Market Punishing to Mothers. My exhaustion from a day of trying to juggle caring for our 9 year old, helping out my in-laws, oh and yes, doing my job disappeared for a moment – replaced by giddiness that someone was calling attention to the economic challenges uniquely faced by mothers.

It’s a great piece. As Leonhardt says,

…our economy exacts a terribly steep price for any time away from work — in both pay and promotions. People often cannot just pick up where they have left off. Entire career paths are closed off. The hit to earnings is permanent.

The fact that the job market has evolved in this way is no accident. It’s a result of policy choices. As Jane Waldfogel, a Columbia University professor who studies families and work, says, “American feminists made a conscious choice to emphasize equal rights and equal opportunities, but not to talk about policies that would address family responsibilities.”

“Family responsibilities.”  Hmmm, I believe that term covers things like driving carpool to summer camp, taking three cell phone calls from the 9 year old at camp, calling to arrange overnight care to help my mother in law care for my recovering father in law, scheduling someone to come repair our washer that keeps staining our clothes, and then picking up carpool crew from camp. All while fitting in my job early in the morning, in between carpools, and late at night.

“Women do almost as well as men today,” Ms. Waldfogel said, “as long as they don’t have children.”

Yes, I’m with Mr. Leonhardt. It’s time to take the next step and stop just talking about policies that would address the family responsibilities both men and women have for both children and their aging parents. It’s time to DO something.

(Also see my April post on The Wage Gap Between Mothers and Everyone Else)

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Filed under Career-Life Fit, Economy, Gender Issues, Money, Motherhood

This “Toolkit for Women Seeking a Raise” Helps Remodel Motherhood

The New York Times recently published a great article called A Toolkit for Women Seeking a Raise. The article combines the explanation of the challenges women face in negotiating raises:

“We have found that if a man and a woman both attempt to negotiate for higher pay, people find a women who does this, compared to one who does not, significantly less attractive,” said Hannah Riley Bowles, an associate professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, who has conducted numerous studies on gender, negotiation and leadership. “Whereas with the guy, it doesn’t seem to matter.”

WITH what to do about it:

“So what’s a woman to do if she feels her work merits a raise? A new study concludes that women need to take a different approach than men. Women, it suggests, should frame their requests in more nuanced ways to avoid undermining their relationship with their boss.”

The article’s approach mirrors my own advice on this topic and others at the heart of my book, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood To Get the Lives We Want Today. If mothers become consciously aware of the outdated stereotypes about mothers, fathers, money and work still running amuck, they have a better chance of navigating situations effectively. Continue reading

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Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Career-Life Fit, Gender Issues, Money, Motherhood, News & Commentary, Remodeling Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood Tips, Workplace and Employment

Why I Hate the Mom Salary Survey

This past week leading up to Mother’s Day, Salary.com published its 10th Annual Mom Salary Survey which calculates that Stay-at-Home Moms Would Earn US$117,856 if paid for her family work. Employed mothers, the survey says, would earn US$71,860 above their regular salary for their mom duties – less because they pay for some childcare.

I hope the 10th Annual Survey is the last. Continue reading


Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Economy, Family Work, Fatherhood, Gender Issues, Motherhood, News & Commentary, Remodeling Motherhood

New York Times: Financial Advice By Women for Women

Great article in the New York Times today, Financial Advice By Women for Women.

“Women live longer, earn less and take more breaks from the workplace to care for children and elderly parents. And though studies show that women tend to save a slightly higher percentage of their paychecks then men, they ultimately end up with smaller balances because of their lower earnings.”

Does that mean women need specially tailored financial advice?”

My answer would be yes – especially for mothers – because as the article points out, there tends to be a “gap in financial literacy between women and men” at all ages, and motherhood in particular often leads to employment decisions that compromise earnings.

The article includes links to multiple online resources and recommended books to help women close that gap.  You can find even more at my Remodeling Tools webpage.

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Filed under Economy, Money, News & Commentary, Uncategorized

Power of a Purse Campaign: From Tara Brettholtz, Mothers & More

Earlier this month I posted all the reasons it makes sense to talk about mothers and money this month, including  the Mothers & More 2010 Mother’s Day Campaign: Power of  Purse. I’m so glad to be able to share this guest post from Tara Brettholtz, who started the whole thing last year. Tara tells us the story of how the campaign came to be plus an update on the impact it is having this year in 44 local chapters in 23 cities across the country! It’s not too late to donate a purse – read on to find out how.

~ Kristin

Sharing the Power of a Purse: How a Small Group of Moms Sparked a National Mother’s Day Campaign

This Mother’s Day, moms in 43 cities across the nation are making sure that more mothers to get the thanks and recognition they deserve.  It’s part of a campaign called Power of a Purse, and the idea is to collect new and gently used purses to give to mothers living in poverty, transitional housing and domestic violence situations to send a message of hope and support.

The idea was started by a Mothers & More chapter in Saratoga County, NY last spring when the group stumbled upon literature about a local YWCA that provides housing and support services to women and their children with no other place to go.  The group placed a call and met with a staff member to inquire about making some kind of donation.  They discovered that the women and kids there needed everything.

Suggestions of donating canned food or toiletries were met with sincere gratitude, but what Mothers & More members really wanted was to feed the spirits of these women who were struggling.

That’s when they thought of a purse.

“A purse has many layers of meaning to a woman, no matter how much money she has in it.  It’s a shot of confidence, a sense of security and a home away from home,” says Tara Brettholtz, project manager for the campaign and a director of Mothers & More. Continue reading

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Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Economy, Guest Posts, Money, Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood

Equal Pay Day: The Wage Gap between Mothers and Everyone Else

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I’m frustrated by Equal Pay Day.

Yes, I think it’s important to point out the wage gap between men and women still exists, and that a significant chunk of it is unexplained – likely sex discrimination.

Yes, I think using a day in April to symbolize how far into 2010 a woman has to work to match what the average man made in 2009 is a nifty way to get the message across.

But Equal Pay Day targets an outdated version of the problem and obscures one of the primary factors behind the remaining gap.

Today, the big wage gap is between mothers and everyone else. Continue reading


Filed under Economy, Gender Issues, Money, Motherhood, News & Commentary, Workplace and Employment

Power of a Purse: Mothers and Money

So many reasons to talk about money and mothers this month.

  • April is Financial Literacy Month
  • April 20 is Equal Pay Day which symbolizes how far into 2010 women must work in order to earn as much as a man did in 2009.
  • Financial reform on Wall Street is the hot topic in the news.
  • Every day struggles of families on Main Street are the dominating topic in every day conversations.

And one you may not have heard about, but April is also the ramp up to the Mothers & More Power of Purse Campaign culminating on Mother’s Day May 9. While so many are struggling financially today, the reality is that mothers remain some of the most financially vulnerable among us. Across the country, Mothers & More chapters are raising “awareness of mothers’ economic issues through the act of collecting new or gently used purses for mothers in need. The purse symbolizes a woman’s economic power, something we wish for all women, especially mothers in need.”

I highlight many of those economic issues in my book, “This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today,” and much of my own education on the topic came through my involvement with Mothers & More.

What are some of those issues? Continue reading

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Filed under Economy, Gender Issues, Money, Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood