Save. Spend. Splurge.

Discuss: “My husband won’t take a job below his degree”

This is not a specific question, but a general one that seems to be not really discussed or talked about. I received two messages:

Situation #1

So I do wonder…. IF you and your fam were just scraping by or living on credit cards, would you change your approach to work?

I ask bc someone in my family is in that boat… the husband doesn’t think he should work for less than his CPA credentials *technically* qualify for and was out of work for multiple years on and off bc of his unwillingness to compromise.

The wife has carried them all this time through nursing, getting more education and higher degrees and certs to bring home that cheddar. I don’t know all the details, but it sounds like they were REAL underwater for a minute and closing in on dire straits.

While I completely agree that we should not work for less than our worth, I do question his unwavering pride as a detriment to their life. What are your thoughts?

Situation #2

Wow! This is my situation and I don’t really ever see anyone post about it! Thanks for your thoughts on the topic. Makes me feel less crazy for not understand why he won’t go get a job!

He has an engineering and law degree but has not worked for three years while I’ve been hustling. We aren’t ever really struggling but I’ve been paying off his law school debt on my own for three years and it is hard to keep motivated on my own.

Going to suggest pivoting again to see if that is a way to get him working again. Thanks again!

This is more common than we think – I got a few more messages about the whole situation and am amazed.

Pride and others’ opinions don’t put food on the table

You think you’re going to be looked down upon if you’re a janitor now and you went to business school to get a degree (true story, we have a cousin who does this), but WHO CARES?

It doesn’t feed your children, put a roof over your head, or run electricity in your home.

Honestly, whatever anyone else thinks – it doesn’t bring money that you need, so ignore them.

Your degree is only worth what the market will pay for it

As for pride — your degree is dictated by the market – just because you’re a prestigious _________ doesn’t mean that anyone will hire you if there is no value for them.

Even if you went to an Ivy League school, if it is in a field or position that either isn’t relevant any longer, or really just isn’t what the market is looking for – guess what? You’re going to have to do something else.

Sometimes, you need to pivot to another area within your job, find a speciality, or a way to do something different yet related to your degree.

No job is below anyone

Think of immigrants who come countries and were previously doctors or dentists, giving it all up to flee for whatever reason — they take jobs as cashiers, shoe salespeople, taxicab drivers, and they do WHAT IT TAKES.

I used to work as a fast food server in high school and later in university, and I still remember the stench of food on my clothes and in my hair after every shift.

I will never ever forget what it was like to work minimum wage, which is why I work so hard to not have to go back to that, but if I had to?

I’d do it in a heartbeat.

If you want to work, you can find work

Barring things like this virus forcing us all to stay in for our health (and others’), you can find work anywhere. ANYWHERE. You just have to look.

If you want to work, you’ll make money and do it. I don’t see it as an excuse at all.

If you’re enabling someone to not work because you’re basically paying for everything AND clearing their loans.. well. Why would they work? They have it made!

They can do WHATEVER THEY WANT while you bust your ass to take care of everything.

Of course, I am not including children in this mix or health issues – if you have kids, and you’re a stay at home parent, listen… being with children is more than a full-time job.

I am talking about just two people, childless, not being able to work because.. they just feel like they’re not getting paid ‘what they are worth’ or feel like the job is ‘below them’.

As someone who used to do this….

I speak from experience, because I was a Money Idiot and these are the reasons why someone might stay with a non-contributing spouse:

  • You feel confused because you’re an independent woman so shouldn’t it be okay for women to be breadwinners now?
  • You don’t want to make it a big deal because money is not why you’re with him
  • You have low self-esteem and think you’re not going to find anyone
  • They still have good qualities but … working doesn’t seem to be on their priority list
  • You think you’re with someone good & what is yours is his, and what is his is yours except.. well, it’s only your money paying for it all, right?

This is utter nonsense.


Time to have a talk with them, and tell them they need to start bringing their half to the table.

Let this sink in:



Now isn’t that some revolutionary BS?

If/when you have children, that’s another discussion of who (if anyone) stays at home, but for now, if you are childless like I was when I was a Money Idiot, don’t accept this crap.

I did all of these mistakes and more (read: The time I was a Money Idiot) – I paid for everything for years; I felt ashamed for being a breadwinner and feeling resentful that he didn’t bring his half because I didn’t think I was THAT woman who would be so money-minded and greedy (turns out, I am, and I love it.. just kidding. Sort of.)

I had low self-esteem and it was just COMFORTABLE to stay with him and not leave. I didn’t want to start another life with someone new I didn’t know, or to be alone, or to not have what I thought I should have in my 20s – a relationship, and a great career, then kids later.

In the end, what it all boiled down to was I was completely resentful and angry because it wasn’t fair.

It just, wasn’t f*cking fair or equal for my ex to have sat at home, played video games all day while I cleared his debt and my debt, working like crazy, and doing all the financial work. Oh… did I also mention he spent MY money on alcohol, new clothes & partying?


Tell yourself that, and let yourself get angry because you are valid in thinking it isn’t fair.

And as someone who ‘got out’ before kids (thank goodness), don’t accept less than what you deserve because you do deserve more.


  • Sense

    Oh my gosh, this makes me so ANGRY.

    I’d love to read what you think about this article:

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      You know what I think of it. Why is women’s paid labour the first to go? What, the man HAS to work and the woman doesn’t? Why don’t we have options where we can do part-time work or share the responsibility?

      I agree in situations when both parents MUST be physically present that this is the issue, but then it shouldn’t be that it is a woman or a man, it should be who makes the most money which is NOT WHAT I SEE. I see a lot of high-earning women giving up their jobs to be mothers at home, and their lower-earning men , continuing to work.

      Then we have to be teachers as well? That’s crazy. Where are the fathers in all of this?

      I also hate it when women refer to their pay as “icing on the cake” or that it isn’t important at all or “extra money”. Why? The more we think of women’s pay as “extra” the less they will stay in the workforce and reach their potential.

  • Cathy

    I still have one of those in my family … (my dad! ) who took advantage of my mom, me and my sister and financially abused us. I have gotten over this being-taken-advantage of mentality… and not doing it anymore.

    My husband goes through periods of unemployment – but he’s a contractor and brings in much more than me when he’s working. And he’s actively looking during his down time and does more than his share of work at home during his downtime (other times, we are 50-50).. . If he is not actively looking for work, I have a frank conversation with him which lights fire.

    I see women take on more than their share of the family budget, husband’s loans, husband’s extended family load etc… I think as long as keep doing it, we’re training our men to take advantage of us. The moment we start standing up, we are training the men to take responsibility for their actions..

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      True partnership right here: “If he is not actively looking for work, I have a frank conversation with him which lights fire.”

      YES. we have to stand up so that they take responsibility and it is on us to push them to do so.

  • Financial Orchid

    It can be hard for a lot of people. A spouse stays at home, work is slow, n with house paid off, or burn out, there’s no necessity or motive to find compensating work.

    As a woman, it is very hard for me to see another man just hang out in loungewear all day regardless of the financial situation.

    Many older female colleagues at work in their 50s tell me they face this at home. On top of all that, the husband doesn’t feel the need to do any house work either.

    Some leave their partners others accommodate for the kids.

    No wonder divorces skyrocket in middle age.

    In these scenarios im glad to be single.

  • Jane

    This was my viewpoint too. I mean I too wouldn’t take up anything that was less worthy of me. But bad times call for an attitude change. I think you should take up a job beneath you if the situation is such and then slowly work your way out of it. This becomes all the more important if you have kids and other responsibilities.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      If you can say no to things because you won’t take a job below your skills, by all means do it. But this situation, doesn’t look like that at all. With obligations, you have to bring your half until you can find something in what you want to do.

      I can say no to a lot of things because I don’t need the money, but I definitely had no choice when I was younger to really crappy contracts with clients I hated (or rather, they hated me because I was a consultant), because I needed that money to reach this point.

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