The accidental breadwinner


I never envisioned myself as a high earner. And I’m still not. But somehow, I’ve found myself in the position of accidental breadwinner.

I had no interest in the typical commercial career paths (I was one of like three Asians in the journalism track of my degree). Zero interest in climbing the corporate ladder. Money was not a consideration for me when I was thinking about careers. I didn’t set out to earn heaps and I didn’t aspire to it. I embarked on a creative path and didn’t imagine veering from it.

And then, like so many other journalists, I left – for a new challenge, yes, but also for more financial security. I make decent though not crazy money, I enjoy my work and my life, and I can’t imagine any other way now.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing. As it turned out, T happened to be unemployed at the point of each of my significant income increases. I suspect unconsciously this led to problems.  We could survive (although not thrive) on my earnings alone. The more I made, the less urgency there was for him to contribute … until it all boiled over.

For a long time I kind of hoped he’d somehow land an epic job that would set us up for the future, take the pressure off me, let me sit back and relax for while (payback, if you like, for all I’d done for so long).

I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is unlikely, and that odds are I’ll continue to be the breadwinner. It’s a strange concept to accept, a new way to see myself, even though it’s been definitively true for many years now. But it is definitely no longer a temporary thing. It’s just how it’s going to be.

He landed a new job this year. I’m so proud of him. Stepped up of his own accord. He knew he needed to bring in more and set about changing that. #makingshithappen

The extra money certainly makes a difference. Here’s to thriving, not just surviving.

Our income differential is still massive though, and we’re not anticipating huge pay jumps that would change that equation. That’s fine.

Ultimately, we’re both people who never expected to make much money. People who never ever imagined earning, say, $60k. While I’ve broken through that barrier and more – I can’t and don’t necessarily expect the same for both of us. What I can count on is myself, and continuing on the quest to get paid well for doing work I love, or as close to it as possible.

5 thoughts on “The accidental breadwinner

  • Reply Financial Samurai July 4, 2017 at 22:35

    Congrats I say! I’ve always fantasized about my wife being the breadwinner while I was working, and after 15 years, she is b/c she gets to earn most of our company profits in the form of distributions. I love it!


  • Reply Liz July 5, 2017 at 02:48

    I never saw myself making much money either, and I did become the breadwinner. I currently make $50,000 a year (which is super high income for my family) in the US Air Force, and that number is only going up. I started out with a creative degree and left my job for the financial stability and pay increase the military offers.

    I don’t think I’ll ever leave until I absolutely have to because the income stability is so stress-relieving. In the end, I think making a decent wage ($40-70k) a year, can bring great relief, even if the plan was to pursue creative fields.

    Great post! I love reading your stuff.

  • Reply Sarah (Smile & Conquer) July 5, 2017 at 15:31

    We’ve been in all every combination of breadwinner / non-breadwinner over the years but right now our income are pretty even. You never know what will happen in the future though. I have more job stability and consistency of income than my partner but his earning potential is higher in his current job. I think as long as you are both ok with not having equal incomes then everything will work out, there’s always other ways to contribute.

  • Reply GYM July 12, 2017 at 05:54

    How do you split your bills or do you amalgamate everything together? My husband is the main breadwinner but I definitely strive to make more money.

    • Reply eemusings July 12, 2017 at 21:11

      we’ve done most every combination there is … right now it’s mostly separate with some combined for joint expenses, and obviously my part is more than 50%.

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