Money and Relationship Survival Tips For The Sole Breadwinner Household

The mistake most sole financial providers make is excluding the “personal” life in the work-life balance. Looking after this department is crucial if one is to overcome the pressures, demands and fears  in providing solely yet adequately for loved ones. Taking care of personal aspects in work and living ensures that the sole breadwinner maintains a healthy disposition in life, remains focused on  things that really matter and not just the fulfilment of financial obligations to family, but fulfilment of all other obligations to family like love and attention; and to one’s self like time and enjoying leisure as well.

Indeed, how can you take care of others when you can’t even take care of yourself first? For the sole breadwinners, here are ways to ensure you remain strong, positive, productive and pleasant in the face of slaying the family financial dragon all by yourself.

1. Know your limits and set boundaries

Some sole breadwinners have been known to work themselves to death, signing on three or more jobs at a time for true enough, the more jobs, the more the income source. There are those who are able to pull it off, while the more ordinary human beings succumb to human limitations like fatigue, stress, over-exhausted mind and weary soul. 

The body and the mind can only take so much. Working one’s self to death will eventually lead to consequences that even entail additional expenses, such as sickness, defeating the purpose of the multiple workhorse approach to sole breadwinner status.

2. There should be a clear message that you will need help, and soon

With the rising cost of living and almost stagnant wages, being the sole financial provider will rarely give a family a good standard of living (unless you belong to the top 0.01 percent of the American rich earning around $200,000 monthly by your lonesome.) Sooner or later, you will need a partner in putting food on the table and keeping everyone safe and warm.

Communication is key here, and the present dependents must also be proactive in assisting the sole breadwinner as soon as they are able. If it’s the employment scene or sickness that’s keeping the spouse from helping, there will always be work opportunities for the better. If this is not the case, there are other options to take, like home-based additional income streams (baking, catering) or offering professional services (accounting, encoding, programming). Resourcefulness and creativity can also open up many ways for a single-income household to get hold of a few dollars outside of that one monthly paycheck.

3. Remember that the business of economics is the business of life

That is, no matter how hard and how long you work and how many jobs you have, you are limited by factors not in your control – time, age, incentives (wages), prices, market forces. This means that you can only work as long, stay  as old for work and earn as much (or as little).

There is only so much you can do as the sole breadwinner that your single individual self can push to the limit. Beyond this, with everything else being constant like inflation, unmoving salary scale, unstable employment and large number of dependents, there is nothing more that you can do or give. With this in mind, we proceed to the final reminder below.

4. Know when to say “I can’t do more. Let’s make a family plan.”

Being the sole breadwinner for the longest time and not foreseeing a change in your situation will eventually lead to a breaking point. Playing the hero all the time comes with a price, which is true not just in movies and comic books, but more so in real life.

If you are anywhere near to breaking, it’s time to sit down with all family members to make a plan with the goal of initiating change in the financial status, foremost of which is sourcing money. This will reinforce the sense of responsibility for everyone, get them updated on the real family money status, and have a concrete roadmap on when a breather is coming when able members agree to assist the breadwinner, like going for a part-time or home-based job and shouldering small expenses while contributing to the family fund for major ones.

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Setting aside the intricacies of choosing career and future growth, and the many factors involving decisions on job choices, the issue of salary becomes important especially when an individual is no longer in the stage of having only one’s self to look after. Everything changes when bigger and serious responsibilities come in. When this stage of the working life sets in, job decisions and future growth becomes crucial.

This is especially true when one is the sole breadwinner. You want a job that pays well and offers clear advancement in terms of promotions and salary so that you can support yourself as well as the people who depend on you. Here are some ways you can re-assess your work, your future, and that of your dependents.

  • Be good in your job and you will have an equally good reason to pursue promotions and raises. Ask for a raise if you believe the time has come and you deserve it.

  • Take advantage of company-paid skills enhancement programs and development trainings that will prove useful for you in the future by adding to your market value.

  • Think about what your work offers in terms of standard company benefits. These can never come as highly important as when you are in a breadwinner or shared breadwinner status: HMO memberships, retirement plans, provident funds as well as valuable non-wage benefits.

  • Talk with your company HR and career officers and honestly explain your situation and your needs and where your work is connected. Your HR is equipped with professional training and knowledge to handle these things and will be equally honest about your expectations and what the company can offer. If you feel there is a need to change job after the talk, prepare to find new opportunities, including better employment, better benefits, better wages, and the like.


Non-earning family members must assist the sole breadwinner in making financial burdens lighter and more bearable for everyone

Non-earning family members must assist the sole breadwinner in
making financial burdens lighter and more bearable for everyone

Nobody wants to be categorized as a “dependent,” especially when one is of age and capable of working. But given the economic challenges of today, it is no longer surprising that many able-bodied individuals find themselves just that – depending on one family member to live day to day while looking for opportunities and waiting for more positive outcomes in pursuit of new or replacement jobs or sources of income.

By knowing how to extend meaningful and appropriate help to the one who provides financially for the family, the pressure of  survival is dispersed among members, and this way, the responsibility of assuring the family lives decently even on modest means is shared by everyone. When this is the case, coping with a single-income, sole breadwinner household moves from being a dreary situation to one where hope and optimism overflows.

1. Personal finance education is key

Nowhere is the knowledge of personal finance even more significant and relevant than living in a household with a sole breadwinner.  When family members are knowledgeable on proper budgeting, smart spending, practical ways of saving, and stretching and even growing the limited monetary resources available for them in a given time, the sole breadwinner household will always be better off than one where there are multiple earners but still wrestles with financial mismanagement problems due to lack of personal finance knowledge and skills.

Read more:  Woman Sole Breawinners: 6 Tips You Should Know To Get Back On Your Feet

2. Teach children the value of money, education and hard work well through good  examples

Keeping financial problems in a family with kids is hard, since children can absorb the emotional strains and tensions in their surroundings like a sponge. While parents naturally want to protect their kids from these stressors, it is not an excuse to lead them to believe that there are no money problems to tackle in their present or future lives.

While shielding them from worries and anxiety, parents can teach them proper values associated with money – like one should work hard to earn money, it is important because it buys them things and as such, it should be spent wisely and handled properly. This way, kids do not add up to more spending pressures by asking expensive things or being wasteful and irresponsible. For older kids who can comprehend simple problems and solutions, the family financial situation can be explained in a simple way so that it gives them a good foundation for sound money decisions when they grow older.

3. Create opportunities for happiness and fun as a family that does not involve a  lot of money

Happiness, especially family happiness, does not always have to involve money. As most everyone will agree, contentment can be a mindset. It is especially important to create fun and happy moments for everyone around you when times are especially tough. A nice quality time gives the entire family emotional weapons that squash the realities of having little or just enough to get them by. It invigorates the breadwinner with much needed breaks and it fosters stronger bond and unity as a group, making everyone realize the more important things in life like sense of belonging.

A family backyard or park picnic, a day at a nearby beach, a family staycation, or extending an ordinary Sunday or market day into leisurely neighborhood walks are all fun, healthy and money-free ways to spend days and show the kids the joys of simple living.

4. Stay positive

It is when the family is beset by financial challenges like coping with a sole breadwinner household that staying positive becomes more important. It is not just as a survival tool, but as a way to foster self-worth in everyone when they recognize all the other good things in life to be grateful about, like that one job and how everyone’s cooperation helps, instilling motivation and action among family members. Families in a sole breadwinner household who stay positive, look for and find the silver lining in every cloud are even happier and healthier than those who have much more, but are constantly wanting more.


The increase in the number of sole breadwinner households, and the emergence of sole financial providers other than fathers like moms and elderly children showcase more than just the effects of economic downturns, they also reflect the lengths by which society and individuals can adapt and be flexible when called for, especially when family, loved ones and survival are at stake. 

While there may be a need for more responsive policies to protect individual working Americans and their families, such as enhanced job security like a no-firing policy and no termination of work contract for breadwinners, household heads or single working parents during recession time (as what other countries enforce), the most that households can do is come together even more united and stronger than ever before and practice the art of survival and the economics of coping – be it the sole breadwinner, co-breadwinner or a dependent.

By following the given practical guides and tips as weapons against tough times, those in the sole breadwinner households can emerge as winners, rather than the victims, in economic uncertainties.

Category: Home & Family

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