[Editor's Note: This is a guest post written by Liz, AKA Chief Mom Officer. She works full time in IT, is a mother of three boys, and writes over at Chief Mom Officer evenings and weekends. Her site is all about money (yours and your kids), work, and having frugal fun as a family. Her Breadwinning, Six Figure, Millionaire women series shares inspiring stories of women of all different ages, industries, and family configurations-including, of course, multiple physicians. She's always looking for more interviewees, so if you know any women that are the family breadwinner, a high-income earner, or high net worth be sure to drop her a note. I had the pleasure of meeting CMO at FinCon last October and I'm sure you'll enjoy her writing as much as I do. We have no financial relationship.]
I’ve been an avid fan of personal finance and investing ever since I first read The Wealthy Barber as a teenager. Ever since I’ve devoured every kind of media around personal finance – books, magazines, newspapers, podcasts, and blogs. One subject I always love to read about is how a “successful” person becomes such – and how wealthy people obtain, manage, and invest their money. After all, as they say, “success leaves clues” and I was interested in following those clues to become successful myself. Over time, as I read more, I would notice such stories were typically about people who were:
- Single, or had no children
- Owners of a business that earned millions of dollars each year
- Executives in a Fortune 100, 500, or 1000 company
- Famous in some way
I’ve spent the past year getting to know a different set of people. Moms who are the breadwinners in their family, who earn six figures, and/or are millionaires. These moms aren’t corporate execs, famous, or own a business that most of us can’t even imagine founding. There are plenty of other great places to go to find those stories.
This is a subject I’m very interested in, because I fit this description and frankly couldn’t find a lot of people (read: anyone) in my “real life” who was like myself. I started out making $22k per year, working full time and going to school full-time nights and weekends. I completed my MBA in evenings after work with two young children, through the near death of my husband from septic shock, and I’ve saved and invested since I was a teenager. Today I’m the breadwinner and sole income earner of my family, and I not only work a more than full time demanding job in IT managing $10 million in development for a large corporation, but I also run my website on the side.
I knew other regular moms like me were out there, and the best place to find them would be the internet. And find them I did.
Instead of being famous, they’re ordinary moms from every walk of life. Teachers. A retired police captain. A CPA. Moms working in finance. A woman who works in content design. And, of course, doctors. They are the breadwinners (and at times sole income earners) of their families, earn high incomes, they’re millionaires – sometimes one, two, or all three at once.
I’ve found that their success leaves clues, too. So today I’d like to share them with you.
Lessons From Everyday Breadwinning, Six Figure, Millionaire Moms
They’re Educated About Money
Almost all of the women I interviewed are interested in money, personal finance, and investing. Of course, they also agreed to be interviewed by someone that runs a personal finance and investing site, so my sample is likely biased. It could also be that when women earn high incomes, earn the most in the family, or have a high net worth they’re more inclined to want to be educated on how to best deploy their funds.
They Don’t Let Gender Issues Derail Them
Pretty much all the women I’ve talked with have experienced some kind of issue because they’re a woman, or sometimes specifically because they’re a mom. They’ve had others assume they must not want a more demanding job, to travel for work, more hours, or a higher-level position because they’re a mom. Or they’ve seen an “old boys club” in action at their workplace. But they don’t dwell on these issues, complain about them, or let the problems derail them from their goals. Instead they usually internally roll their eyes and just keep on going for what they ultimately want to achieve.
They Save, Regardless of Income Level
I’ve spoken with people that make lower incomes, and those that make hundreds of thousands each year. They all save quite a bit of what they make. Those that make very high incomes made saving and investing a habit when they were younger, earlier in their careers, or earning a lower income. Getting into the habit gave them the habits and experience to prepare for when they earned a higher income.
Money Is Genderless
Fortunately, money does not care about your gender. Instead, your money does what you direct it to do. If you direct it into a savings account, it will earn the same amount of interest as individuals of any other gender. Ditto for investing it into stocks, bonds, real estate, hedge funds, or any other sort of investment. If you take the time and effort to learn about wise financial decisions, and pull the trigger on appropriate investments, you will earn the same return as anyone else with the same investments. These women realize this, and educate themselves on investing so they can make significant returns on their money.
Their Tips for Financial and Career Success Are Basic – You Just Need to Do Them
Negotiate your salary. Don’t let others dictate your career, or hold you back. Learn good money habits early. Don’t be wasteful with your money. Spend more on things that are important to you. Don’t spend to keep up with the Jonses. They’re all the same tips we’ve heard time and time again, and they’re all true. Sometimes the issue isn’t trying to figure out what you need to do – the key is in actually doing it, even when it’s uncomfortable or difficult.
They Don’t Give Up
Many of the women I’ve talked to have overcome a number of challenges to get where they are today. Some started out their adult lives broke, got an education, and worked their way to success in the corporate world. Others unexpectedly became single mothers but supported themselves and their children while building a career. I’ve talked with people who studied for and received advanced degrees while they were already a mom. One common pattern for all of them is that life threw a bunch of obstacles their way, but every time they were knocked down they got back up again. When life closed a door, they scrambled around to find that window. It was their never give up attitude that led to their eventual success.
They Find a Balance of Work and Life That Works for Them
Remember, these are all moms who are the family breadwinners or earn high incomes. Their families are very important to them, but so is their work. Over the course of their family lives they’ve found a balance that works for them, and that balance can shift over time. So often when we hear about “work-life balance” people are thinking of working less hours or taking a less demanding job to spend time with their children. Some of them decide to do that, but others ramp up their careers so their husbands can do more of the childcare. The amount of time and energy they dedicate to their careers can shift over time, with more time to family some years and more focus on career in others.
They’re All Unique, Yet All Alike
Even though there are some common patterns in their lives, they’re all unique people with their own stories to tell. Some journeys to success were more difficult than others. I’ve talked to new moms and moms who are now grandmothers. They come from all different walks of life, started in different situations, and had different careers. But they’re all successful, driven, knowledgeable, love their kids and are passionate about their careers. They do their best to balance work and life in a way that works for them, and that way is different for every person and every family.
You Can Do It Too
Reading all their different stories of success, one lesson comes through clearly. These are ordinary, everyday women you might overlook if you walk past them on the street, or in the office. They aren’t going to be bragging about all their successes-in fact you’d probably never know the struggles they’ve overcome to get where they are today if you didn’t ask. There isn’t something special or magical about what they’ve done. Hard work, time, determination, learning from others how to succeed at work and at your finances, saving and investing, and forging their own path were key to their success. And whatever your career and life situation, you can do it too.
Talking to these moms has been inspiring to me, and I’ve learned so much from them. It was interesting how often I would see my own story, or my future, in what they had to tell me. Most of their tips for success apply equally to men, and to those without kids. If you would like to learn more about this subject, or read the interviews, you can find them on my site here. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about how they’ve achieved success in their finances, career, and family life.
Are there lessons you've learned that you would add to the list? Do you think there is something for everyone to learn from having the millionaire mom mindset? How have these women inspired you in your life? Join the discussion below!