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Being the primary breadwinner.

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I know a few RNs and CNAs who are the primary breadwinners in their household. They may have a spouse who also has a job, but it us typically minimum wage or below it. The RN in my state makes about $33 to $45 and more an hour.  Their pay is the lifeline for everyone in the house. They often have to work OT or take another job.

Are you a primary breadwinner? What would happen if you quit or got laid off? Can other members in your household make up for the lost income? How many people are you supporting? Do you feel trapped and resentful?

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 42 years experience.

I am frugal, and many times in my career have been laid off, fired, or quit without another job lined up.

One of the many reasons I choose to have a vasectomy at a relatively young age and not to have children was so that supporting others was not part of the equation.

It all worked out to my advantage, as I was always able to do whatever I wanted, am now retired, own my own home, have no bills, and am financially comfortable.

NightNerd, MSN, RN

Specializes in CMSRN, tele, palliative, psych. Has 7 years experience.

I guess I don't ever think of it this way; I figure most households around me need all adults working at least part-time to pay bills and save money. It doesn't feel like me supporting anyone else so much as both of us contributing, although I do make a little more money. But we both work, we tackle chores and cooking equitably, and we make decisions together for the benefit of both of us. If we didn't have this approach, I can see feeling resentful, but we both work really hard.

It's also a goal of ours for him to be able to work part-time, or maybe stay at home entirely for a couple years, once we have a child. Of the two of us, I enjoy my work more and would want to keep working anyway, so it just makes sense. That said, if either of us was the sole breadwinner we would be able to make ends meet; there just wouldn't be a lot of room for the fun extras that make life enjoyable.

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

I am secondary and work one day a week for "fun" money. I have no idea what the bills are, and I don't want to know. I keep a foot in the door for the sake of current experience, and for the ability to jump in quickly if some new financial need develops.

I do have two small children at home, so I'd probably be better off with a full time job.

JBMmom, MSN

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 9 years experience.

I became the sole wage earner in our family during my previous career (that paid better), while my husband was home for 11 years with our kids. When I first came to nursing he had a part time job.  He started a full time job a little over a year ago. Looking back on it, I would never choose it again if there was another option, but it's what had to be done at the time. I think that it lead to some permanent damage in our relationship because I did end up resenting things, some because of my own issues and some because of things beyond my control. 

I think more important that the finances themselves, though, is the couple's ability to communicate. I have come to realize that is the key component, almost everything else can be worked out. Good luck! 

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in school nurse. Has 29 years experience.

1 hour ago, Sour Lemon said:

I do have two small children at home, so I'd probably be better off with a full time job.

For the money or for the peace of mind...? 😎

nursej22, MSN, RN

Specializes in Public Health, TB. Has 36 years experience.

For the majority of my nursing career, I earned more than my spouse, but both of our incomes were important in supporting our family. I would not label that as being the primary breadwinner.

RNperdiem, RN

Has 14 years experience.

Things can always change. I have worked per diem for years after my kids were born. Mine was the secondary income, and my husband had a much higher earning job that carried the benefits. 

When he was diagnosed with cancer in his forties, I realized that things can always change, and that I had better be prepared for change too. Fortunately, my husband is in remission, and back to baseline. Nevertheless, I am working on a BSN and keeping an eye on the job market for the time when I will need/want to return to full-time work.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 42 years experience.

20 hours ago, Sour Lemon said:

I have no idea what the bills are, and I don't want to know. I keep a foot in the door for the sake of current experience, and for the ability to jump in quickly if some new financial need develops.

Living in Plan A but having a Plan B is exquisite, Sour Lemon!

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

On 7/21/2021 at 8:43 AM, Jedrnurse said:

For the money or for the peace of mind...? 😎

Work is like a day off 😉

FNPtobe2020, MSN

Specializes in Critical Care, Corrections. Has 24 years experience.

I’m the primary breadwinner. My husband is between jobs at the moment. That said, he takes care of the household duties. He cooks, cleans, does the laundry, runs the errands, etc. 

He’s also available to assist his parents who live nearby as needed. And also his uncle, for whom his mother takes care of, as opposed to putting him in a nursing home. He mows the grass, shovels the snow around the neighborhood for those who can’t and sometimes, they give him money and/or restaurant gift cards. So for now, this arrangement works for us. 
 

I have a 17 year old son. I pay for his health insurance. Also his cell phone. And help my ex with our son’s monthly expenses, which are not court-ordered. 
 

So, yeah. I’m the breadwinner and I’m fine with it!