I’m a sugar mama (and proud of it!)

This guest post from Kerry is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes.

Hello. My name is Kerry. I'm 26, and I'm the sole provider in my household — and have been for the last three years while my husband pursues his life-long goal of getting a college education.

I met my husband four years ago. At the time, he was working as an XM Radio district manager in Florida. Three months later, they closed his department and he got a job right away at a call center. That job was horrible, though, so he left after a month to take another job as a waiter. (Do you see where this is going?)

I lived in Michigan, so this was definitely a long-distance relationship. Soon, though, we knew we're going to get married. We began discussing life goals, and he said he someday wanted to go back to college. It was my turn, and I told him that if he wanted to, I'd support him financially if he chose to go back to school, but that he had to graduate within five years of us getting married. He flew up three weeks later and applied to the community college in my county. Three months later, he moved up to good ol' Michigan and became a full-time student. (In between, he proposed.) After a year, he transferred to a four-year college nearby and commutes every day.

Note: I try to use the word “college” sparingly. More and more I'm seeing my older friends go back to school because they want to have a career, not just a job. Many of them are going to vocational school and loving it. I encourage you to look into something — anything! — that will help you in your own ambitions. My brother chose to go to a two-year Auto/Diesel vocational school and not college, and he's very happy with his career!

My husband holds down a part-time job to pay for his own gas and the internet bill. But in my eyes, his only real job is to be a full-time student. Of course he helps with housework and cooking; but honestly, I don't even care if he does that. He knows that he's an equal in the marriage, helping equally in every aspect (where he can). He's a great husband and very supportive of my own ambitions.

I, on the other hand, pretty much take care of everything and let him get good grades (3.85 — high honors — woot woot!). I hold down a full-time job as a teacher. I'm even taking classes and will graduate this month with my Master's degree. But I'm used to the pressures, craziness, and time management challenges. He's not. Unlike him, I got to experience college right out of high school (thanks, Mom and Dad!). He, on the other hand, is 35 and never had the experience. I think everyone deserves that opportunity.

Here's the most important part. I hope someone out there in blog-land can relate. If not, try.

I grew up in a semi-happy, semi-miserable household. My mom and dad fought a lot about money. Later in life, I realized it was because my dad didn't ever felt successful in the career — or 20 careers — that he's held over the years. He didn't have a formal education after high school, but my mom has her BA and just recently added another degree into the mix. My parents have been married for over 28 years, and when I look back at my childhood, I realize that my mom did most of the raising and was always steady, while my dad was off trying something new. He still hasn't found his “niche”, and I doubt he ever will. (My dad has doubts, too.)

I didn't want this to be my life. I want to be a provider — but I want an equal provider in my spouse. Although I know that we'll probably fight about money, at least I won't have to worry about him feeling less worthy. I want an equal. I want to disqualify education and money as “argument” topics. I want to have a good marriage to someone who is happy with his career and happy with his life. This education, for my husband, will give him a stronghold in both.

So, I decided to support my husband in his pursuit of a B.S. in Aviation Management. I'm proud to say that he'll be graduating in May of 2012 and will even have completed an internship (unpaid, of course). He'll even have his VFR, IFR, Commercial, Multi-Engine Commercial and Certified Flight Instructor pilot ratings when he's finished. He can mark a college education off his bucket list and he can fly me anywhere I want!

More than that, he'll be happy. And we all know happiness in a professional life tumbles over into a personal life. Meanwhile, I can mark a happy marriage off of my bucket list.

More about...Career

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Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago

That sounds great! It’s wonderful when folks can live frugally enough to be supported by one salary while completing future education or exploration. Congratulations to your husband and to you too for that masters degree. You haven’t done this, but one thing I would caution for women in general is not to sacrifice their own career goals for their husband’s education. As an academic, I know plenty of couples where the woman worked at what she considered to be a temporary job to put her husband through school, but rather than return the favor later (as implicitly promised), they got… Read more »

sarah
sarah
9 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

I have to agree with Nicole on this, and add that it doesn’t just happen to women. My uncle worked crappy jobs to put his wife all the way through graduate school and she left him as soon as she got her degree. I don’t think he ever got over it. Not to say that Kerry should rethink what she’s doing, because it seems to be working for them! Nor has she sacrificed her own goals. But this path doesn’t work out for many people that take it, it’s something that should be considered very carefully.

margot
margot
9 years ago

I’m glad that your relationship works and you’re both achieving your goals, and good for you for being a provider! That’s the best aspect of this post. Otherwise, it’s full of strange and naive conclusions and generalizations. “More than that, he’ll be happy.” What?! A degree does not equal happy. Lots of people with degrees are not happy. Your husband will be unhappy at times even if he is happy on graduation day. You write this like a small child who thinks that happiness is instant or simple or formulaic. “I can mark a happy marriage off of my bucket… Read more »

karla
karla
9 years ago
Reply to  margot

I was thinking similar things, however you’ve stated them more clearly than I can. As a member of a couple with unequal (and unconventional) education levels, I can tell you it’s not about the degree. It’s about figuring out what makes each other “happy” and then working towards that as a common goal. If a degree is what is required for him to find fulfillment in either a career or life in general, then I say go for it. Otherwise, regroup and figure that out. And it does take time. At 28 years of marriage and counting I’m not certain… Read more »

Emmy
Emmy
9 years ago
Reply to  margot

I don’t think Kerry was saying that everyone needs a degree to be happy, only that it was a lifetime goal for her husband. All the reader stories, and for that matter MOST of the posts on GRS are about individual experiences; I think you’re reading generalizations where there are none. Kerry, I loved the post. I’m going back to school myself, and it’s definitely a personal goal to graduate even though it may not bring me career success. I only wish I had a sugar daddy! It’s tough to be in school as an adult, but it’s also very… Read more »

Erica
Erica
9 years ago
Reply to  margot

I have to agree that attaining a college degree, or reaching any other goal for that matter, does not make a person happy. He might feel a (well-deserved) sense of accomplishment in graduating from college, but if he’s not happy by temperament, he won’t suddenly become happy from having a degree — and if he thinks getting the degree will *make* him happy, he’ll be even more disappointed. When I was in my late 20’s, I supported my live-in boyfriend while he went to college. It didn’t change his temperament in any way, and it didn’t change his work ethic.… Read more »

Amanda
Amanda
9 years ago
Reply to  margot

I agree Margot, and has been stated, you put it so nicely. =) I do agree that having a niche will contribute to happiness. My dad went to an auto mechanic trade school (Really liked JD’s note about not only using the word “college”.) and felt fulfilled by his steady job of 14 years then he got tired of it and switched to a related job somewhere else. That doesn’t mean my parents didn’t argue about money sometimes (neither is a good budgeter-partially because they’re both last in the birth order is my theory). DH is a middle child so… Read more »

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
9 years ago
Reply to  Amanda

It sounds like the Kerry’s father may well have undiagnosed attention deficit disorder. I wonder if he has been tested for it, and if he does have it, there are some therapies and strategies he could learn.

Kerry G.
Kerry G.
9 years ago
Reply to  SLCCOM

I don’t believe that he has ADHD (as an educator I have a keen eye for it even after 2 years or so!) but I believe he does have dyslexia or another reading struggle as evidence of many, many years of observation/interaction. I know he’s been a struggling reader all of his life, so when it comes to taking his electrician journeyman’s test, it’s failure after failure of thinking HE’S the problem, not that there might be some other solution to this problem besides studying “harder”. He’s taken it 10+ times. It’s hard watching him struggle.

Anne
Anne
9 years ago
Reply to  SLCCOM

Kerry – can they do accommodations for professional testing like they do in school? I would think that if the most important thing is that he be able to DO certain things rather than reading being key, that they could possibly do something to make it work. If he really needs to read a bunch of stuff to do the work, then that’s a different story. Maybe they could find a way to make a hands-on, rather than reading, test??

Kerry G.
Kerry G.
9 years ago
Reply to  SLCCOM

I guess it’s time I stop telling my Mom or Dad gently that they should look into it more closely and start doing something about it! I have asked my Dad (obviously after a lot of thought and consideration) if he would consider being tested because it’s undiagnosed. Then, I have told him that if he does have a reading disorder there may be accomodations that he could have for taking the test, like someone reading the test to him. I see from the way he looks at me that 1.) He’s scared – he’s 58 and it’s been undiagnosed… Read more »

Donna
Donna
9 years ago
Reply to  margot

I have to agree with Margot (#5) on this one. And why is being a “sugar mama” something to be proud of? I would personally feel far better to have someone I could look to as an equal or look to for support when I needed it.

indio
indio
9 years ago

Money, religion and kids are the three top issues most people cite as the reasons behind their divorces. I know of two relationships where the man in the relationship is not the sole provider. They have become stay at home Dad’s and occasionally they will take on part time works, such as coaching or DJ. Both of these relationships seem to work fine with the women being the sole provider. In fact, the women are more accommodating and flexible about decision making than the women I know that are in relationships where both spouses work. If you have the right… Read more »

Victor Putz
Victor Putz
9 years ago

Ma’am: I… just want to caution you. This is a lovely thing you’re doing and I truly hope for the best. But do please use caution; I put my wife through her masters’ in English so she would be successful and happy, but it turned out not to be profitable. So I put her through an MBA… and then an MS in Marketing… and now a PhD in communications… and now she has decided that my career has been what’s limiting her options and is asking for a divorce after 18 years of what I thought was a happy marriage… Read more »

Lauren @ Pineapple Pizza
Lauren @ Pineapple Pizza
9 years ago
Reply to  Victor Putz

I think this is more of a general issue with perceived value of college/education and in marriage rather than in this particular situation. Many people keep getting degrees thinking that it will increase their salary by a so-and-so percentage each time. That’s not the way it works. Many B.S. and B.A. degrees (let alone masters degrees) are worthless, especially if you just have a vague idea of what you’re going to do with them. On the other hand, this guy is coming out of his program with some serious skills and certifications, in addition to related job experience. A lot… Read more »

Smith
Smith
9 years ago
Reply to  Victor Putz

Supporting someone in one degree or specialized field (which is what this story covers) is one thing. Supporting someone in multiple degrees is ridiculous. After the first degree, the person should be able to use their own strength to continue their education.

I don’t quite see this as a compatible warning since (1) the guy in the story lost his job and (2) he’s pursuing a specialized career field. He’s not a college graduate with two other degrees asking his significant other to support YET ANOTHER degree.

Amanda
Amanda
9 years ago
Reply to  Victor Putz

I’m sorry to hear your story. I think people do tend to look to the wrong things in life for happiness-money, education, family, career, status…

As has been stated much more clearly than I ever could by fellow commenters, these things alone don’t equate to happiness. Sometimes they’re placed before us by society as magic cures. It’s nice of you to share your experience.

marie
marie
9 years ago

I was reading this and of course for the situation at hand it works, mainly because you were older going into the agreement. However, I also want to caution girls (or guys for that matter) about ‘providing or paying’ for their bf/gf or spouse’s college education. Yes, if it works out and you live together for a long time, it is totally worth it for the ‘couple’ as a unit. However, when entering an agreement like that, you need to realize and accept that there is a chance that this person could just leave you after they have that college… Read more »

Kate
Kate
9 years ago
Reply to  marie

Yep! That was the story of me and my ex husband. I was 20 and he was 12 years my senior. I didn’t have the life experience and good example at home to know that I should NOT have been supporting him solely no matter what promises he made.

Maybe that should be part of a GRS reader story on marriage and money.

Kate
Kate
9 years ago
Reply to  marie

Yep! That was the story of me and my ex husband. I was 20 and he was 12 years my senior. I didn’t have the life experience and good example at home to know that I should NOT have been supporting him solely no matter what promises he made.

Maybe that should be part of a GRS reader story on marriage and money

bon
bon
9 years ago

Can we re-think the title? It implies it is odd to be proud of being a sugar mama ?! As a ‘sugar mama’ myself it is actually rather insulting, not at all far from: “I’m a successful woman (and proud of it!)” -or- “I’m capable of providing for my family (and proud of it!)” Also strange that you don’t care that your husband helps around the house – that is pretty much required to be an equal partner. All of that said, I’m happy that you are pleased with where you and your husband are and where you are going.

margot
margot
9 years ago
Reply to  bon

Good points! These were bugging me, too, but other things were bugging me more so I didn’t mention them. “Sugar mama” might be meant tongue-in-cheek, but it’s annoying and not very empowering. And being a supporter of education isn’t exactly a sugar mama. Your suggested titles are much better. I had the same thought with housework! The author works full-time, takes classes and appears to do the majority of the housework and doesn’t mind if her husband doesn’t. That’s not a marriage format that would work well for me. I’d expect my partner to do at least half, and more… Read more »

bon
bon
9 years ago
Reply to  margot

Actually I don’t have an issue with the term sugar mama – I have an issue with the parenthetical statement (and proud of it!) as if it is something that one would ever not be proud of. My ‘alternatives’ above were tongue in cheek – equally demeaning in my eyes.

M
M
9 years ago
Reply to  bon

Would you be offended if the genders were reversed, and the male was calling himself a sugar daddy? Yuck.

HollyP
HollyP
9 years ago
Reply to  margot

I’m okay with “all the housework” while he’s actively studying. I’ve done that plus 90% of child-tending and household management twice while MrP has been in school pursuing various degrees.

I’d never describe myself as “happy” about it, but I’m okay because I know that MrP does his share when he’s not in school. And I’ve received assurances that the current degree is his last, until our kids are through college and out of the house.

Amanda
Amanda
9 years ago
Reply to  HollyP

DH does the majority of the breadwinning in our home and I too feel it’s my “duty” to do the majority of the shopping, budgeting, house chores, cooking, getting automotive repairs/maintenance done, etc. to “pull my weight”. I just feel that after a hard day’s work when I’ve been sitting around watching netflix and reading GRS he shouldn’t be required to do those things. That’s not to say that he doesn’t help or that I don’t appreciate it when he does (I was so happy he cleaned the kitchen counter today while I cleaned the toilet!) DH primarily does outdoor… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago
Reply to  HollyP

It’s funny how every woman I’ve seen whose husband is working while she goes to school thinks *she* should be the one doing all the housework (and childcare) because she’s just going to school while he’s working.

Yes, school is a full-time job, but it shouldn’t be more than that. Seriously, you can still think while you’re loading the dishwasher.

shalom
shalom
9 years ago
Reply to  HollyP

Nicole, I definitely have seen it that way while my husband is in school and I work – he should do almost all of the household chores, and also he be the primary parent. He’s seen it that way, too, thank goodness.

But maybe HollyP meant that both she and her husband had paying jobs and in addition, he went to school. In that circumstance, she probably would end up doing a lot more housework than he was.

HollyP
HollyP
9 years ago
Reply to  HollyP

Our division of labor is lopsided while my husband is in school is because I’d rather have him spend his free time playing with our kids than doing housework. I do most of the housework after the kids are in bed. The sheer joy on my younger child’s face while her father is playing with her is worth it.

Of course now that we are at the end of the academic year the arrangement is getting really old… I’m ready to be a princess for the next few weeks.

Melissa
Melissa
7 years ago
Reply to  margot

I totally agree that the wife should not let the husband off without doing housework. That is setting a bad precedent. In my first marriage, I started off by doing all the housework because I didn’t have a full-time job yet. Hubby never would do housework after that – even after he was laid off and doing nothing and I was working full-time. I really resented that and it’s part of the reason he’s my ex. My current husband helps with some of the chores, even though he works and I’m temporarily staying home with my baby girl. He helps… Read more »

guinness416
guinness416
9 years ago
Reply to  bon

Yeah “sugar mama” is probably intended to be cutesy and the “proud of it” bit probably just means she doesn’t know anyone else supporting a male partner, but … ugh. I outearn my husband by quite a bit, and have been the sole earner a few times for one reason or another. That’s not being a “sugar mama” and needing you-go-girl high fives, it’s just part of the give and take of being married and having each others backs. Anyway, good for you for being organized and having a plan, Kerry.

Luke
Luke
9 years ago
Reply to  guinness416

Agree completely, I couldn’t see what the achievement was (other than letting her OH achieve his potential, which will benefit both of them).

Jaime B
Jaime B
9 years ago
Reply to  bon

I didn’t like the title either. I don’t care about whether someone is or is not a sugar mama/daddy, I have a problem that it’s titled improperly. Being the sole provider of a couple is NOT being a sugar mama. It’s similar to an earlier article about supposedly paying for college without having to take out a loan, but the author had a loan from her folks. It’s misleading and inaccurate.

WintersKnight
WintersKnight
9 years ago

I admire your willingness to make your spouse happy in pursuing his career. A marriage is a partnership and I think it’s wonderful that you have been a dedicated to him. However, from what I read, your sole happiness is based on supporting him through college. While that’s nice, maybe it’s time to focus on your aspirations and potential. Like many out there, I paid my way through college. It’s tough but it instills some great qualities in a person–the degree tends to mean more. Maybe it would benefit the both of you if he contributed a little more to… Read more »

Smith
Smith
9 years ago

I’ve seen too many of my guy friends make mistakes in marriage where they thought they married someone “equal,” yet that turned out to be a facade. I warned them that disaster would follow and it did; rarely do we see the male side of the story portrayed in divorce. Based on what you wrote, however, I am impressed by your story. You might get some flack from others because in our culture, people focus on what they GET as opposed to what they GIVE. You, on the other hand, have your priorities straight (after all, we can never control… Read more »

Amanda
Amanda
9 years ago
Reply to  Smith

DH calls me a “capable wife” sometimes too. Especially when I’m feeling guilty for needing his help and like I’m not doing enough. He points out the things I do that his friends wive’s don’t. Especially the ones with kids. They get to be SAHM’s and live their “dream” but one in particular leaves the majority of the laundry, cooking, certainly all of the auto maintenance, and some other things to her spouse while she plays with the kids and takes them to swim lessons. It’s nice for you to use that term, I know I appreciate it when my… Read more »

Nancy L.
Nancy L.
9 years ago

Kerry, I’m glad you have an arrangement right now that is working for you. The one caution I have for you from 15-20 years down the road is to make sure you and your husband work as a team to further *both* of your goals. You have to strike a balance or else one partner will eventually feel as though they did all the work and sacrifice. For example, my husband and I constantly check in with each other to make sure we both feel supported. Last winter my husband took three days off of *his* project to build me… Read more »

Ellen K.
Ellen K.
9 years ago
Reply to  Nancy L.

“Taking turns” is a good policy for a marriage. My husband and I aim for the same — at least, we try to keep it in mind. Frequent communication and checking-in is vital. My brother is a pilot. His education was expensive and his schedule is confusing, but he loves flying. I envy that he has such love for his work. My own caution to Kerry is that the aviation field is NOT one with 9-5 hours, and many people barely earn a living wage while working their way up with smaller regional airlines with high turnover (i.e., frequent moves,… Read more »

Kerry G.
Kerry G.
9 years ago
Reply to  Ellen K.

Thanks for your comments! I guess I should point out that when he began the program we sat down with a commercial pilot and his wife of 20+ years in both his field and marriage, and we came to the conclusion together that being a commercial pilot wasn’t what we wanted for our future family. He has been networking with aviation insurance companies, aviation sales, etc. It’s much easier to get in the door in these areas if you have the endorsements and certifications. We are trying to plan ahead of the industry – and I know we won’t be… Read more »

Sara
Sara
9 years ago
Reply to  Kerry G.

Way to do your homework, Kerry! I think it is so important for students to talk with people who are already working in their anticipated career/field to understand what their lives are actually like. I think most students don’t press hard enough on being informed about the realities in advance and later find their work to be so different from their expectations. My career path even included an entire summer working in my actual firm, doing work that a typical first year associate would. I had so many chances to talk with full-timers about what it was like to work… Read more »

Mark
Mark
9 years ago

Thank you for sharing. I know that it was probably tough to share. What’s important is that both of you are happy in your work or occupation. Like you said, “we all know happiness in a professional life tumbles over into a personal life.” I used to be self-employed, but found out that really wasn’t for me. I now work for someone again, but I can control my hours, somewhat. I like what I do and am happy as well. If you haven’t already, check into Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. It REALLY changed the way my wife and I… Read more »

bon
bon
9 years ago
Reply to  Mark

I’m so confused by this concept – why would being financially successful enough to support your husband through school be “tough to share”??

Jan in MN
Jan in MN
9 years ago
Reply to  bon

Perhaps it is because there are folks out there that would be pretty critical of this, ie see it as a freeloading type of arrangement.

bon
bon
9 years ago
Reply to  Jan in MN

Would Mark have said “must have been tough”? – would as many commenters be telling Kerry to “be careful” if this were written by a man supporting his wife’s dream to be a stay at home mom?

Jan in MN
Jan in MN
9 years ago
Reply to  Jan in MN

I will defer to Mark on that 🙂

anonymous
anonymous
9 years ago

Please don’t romanticize degrees too much. They can be restrictive, too. I have a PhD in a scientific field and am now considered overqualified for a lot of fun jobs that don’t involve research. If I leave academia, which I want to many days, I could easily flit from career to career. I’m also sure not making a lot of money in academic research.

Lauren @ Pineapple Pizza
Lauren @ Pineapple Pizza
9 years ago
Reply to  anonymous

Yes, that is a downside to a PhD. It’s one reason that, even though I really *want* to get one (and I *want* to go into academia), I am very hesitant to do it right now. I’ll go work for awhile first. A PhD will be there for me to get, and I’ll know that it’s really what I want, rather than “the next step.”

Milly
Milly
9 years ago

I got a PhD in a scientific field and left academics after a few years. It took a long time (and some more coursework) to find a satisfying career afterwards. My resume, when I got the good job, said “graduate work in x field at x school”. No lies, just understatement. And no issues about underemployment. By that time, my academic career was more than 10 years in the past, so it wasn’t part of the detailed recent employment history with dates.

RP
RP
9 years ago

I haven’t found that a Ph.D. really limited my job search, but then it’s a science degree and I’m a computer programmer. While programming isn’t as wide open as it was in the late 90s when I left academia (because there were no jobs – I would have loved to stay in research!), people are still from a wide variety of backgrounds. I will say that during job searches, people are much happier chatting me up about my being on Jeopardy! than my dissertation. And here I have so many interesting things to say about my sub-sub-field….

Angela
Angela
9 years ago

I realize it’s difficult to know all of the pertinent details from a short blog post like this, but this sets off a few small alarm bells for me. First, your characterization of your parents’ relationship is: “He didn’t have a formal education after high school, but my mom has her BA and just recently added another degree” and your dad didn’t really stick with one thing. This appears to be the exact same scenario as your own relationship. So now you’ve been supportive of your husband while he gets his degree (which is awesome), but the real test will… Read more »

PB
PB
9 years ago

My husband and I had an arrangement in grad school — he worked for a year while I went to school, and then I worked for a year while he went to school. We traded this way for a few years while I was working on an MSLS and he was working on his PhD. I finished first, got a real job, he quit his job, and spent the next 18 months at home writing his dissertation, which really IS a full time job. When we were both finished and both gainfully employed, we continued to live on my salary… Read more »

AC
AC
9 years ago
Reply to  PB

sounds like real teamwork. way to go!

Jan in MN
Jan in MN
9 years ago

I can relate to this reader’s story. When we married, my husband and I were making close to equal salaries. Then came an unexpected layoff…and lots of conversation about what to do next. My husband decided to cash in on his education benefits from being in the military and go back to school. Three years later, he has a new two year degree, a new job and a much less stressful work life. He makes half of what he made in his prior job, but he is twice as happy. Go figure. I have the same job I did earlier… Read more »

shalom
shalom
9 years ago

Like Karla and Nancy above, I think that a happy marriage a lifelong process that never gets crossed off the bucket list. And good for you, Kerry! It sounds like you all have made a great start. When my husband & I married more than 15 years ago, I was unemployed and heavily in debt. I can tell you that the way my husband treated me and our marriage then – with support, faith, honesty and no guilt or sniping – has set the tone for our life together. Your actions now similarly are building the foundation of the rest… Read more »

Jan in MN
Jan in MN
9 years ago
Reply to  shalom

Good for you!

Hallie
Hallie
9 years ago

I can totally relate to this. There’s lots of criticism out here, but I just wanted to chime in that I pretty much could have written this about me and my fiancé. You do what works for you and your family. before we were engaged I knew I was taking a risk, but it was worth it to me. Our situation is a little different because his mom helps out too, namely because we live in a condo she owns so rent is cheap, and she helps with his car insurance. But that’s won’t happen forever, and I don’t think… Read more »

Marsha
Marsha
9 years ago

Honey, get yourself a savings account and don’t tell him about it (he WILL spend it). You’re going to need it in a few years. I don’t mean any harm or negativity…but been there, done that.

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago

Regarding the whole “sugar mama” thing: I anticipated some negative reaction, but after thinking about this for a couple of weeks, I went ahead and used the author’s title. First, she chose it. Second, it’s self-deprecating. Third, it subverts traditional gender roles rather than reinforcing them. Fourth, I think it’s mildly amusing. Fifth, the title adds a little color; “I’m supporting my husband while he’s in school” is a little drab, yes? So, while I appreciate the concern, I’m still comfortable having used this title. I just wanted to let you all know that I’d thought a lot about it… Read more »

Geek
Geek
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

A major stress release valve in this type of relationship is humor. I gave my now-husband 2 years of non-corporate startup time and the sugar momma and other jokes are pretty frequent – it’s not easy being the sole provider, there’s an entirely different sort of job stress. He’ll start pulling in money or he won’t, but we’re happy.

Kerry G.
Kerry G.
9 years ago

@Nicole – Thanks for the advice! He’s a very supportive hubby and we do have plans for me to go back to get my PhD, but only when we have children (in a couple years) so we can work around paying for childcare! @Margot – I think Emmy stated what I was thinking as I read your post. Fortunately, I’m not naive when it comes to my marriage. It’s been LONG and a STRUGGLE for the last two years – the entire marriage. It’s not about happiness right now – it’s about unity. This is bringing us together. And I… Read more »

schmei
schmei
9 years ago

Good for you! In a few weeks I get to watch my husband cross the stage at graduation with his hard-earned PhD. A few years ago, he was the “sugar daddy” (with his grad-school fellowship!) while I was a full-time volunteer. Then I landed a decent job. Then his fellowship ran out. The roles shifted gradually for us, but now I’m the sole provider and am finishing my Master’s, like you. As long as you keep being clear with each other about who’s doing the housework and all that rot (if only dishes would do themselves…) it can work well.… Read more »

Misty
Misty
9 years ago

I’m surprised that something like this would make it onto a blog that is supposed to teach people how to keep their personal finances healthy. Perhaps if it was a story about someone who took a risk that paid off, I might understand it. But, although the story is phrased to make it sound like it’s been a success and was a great idea, the fact of the matter is that there’s no way to know that this decision won’t turn out to be a bad one. She’s 26 and he’s 35, but she’s the one holding down a full… Read more »

Dee
Dee
9 years ago
Reply to  Misty

This is exactly what I thought when I read this post. I’m stunned that so many people have gone the other way.

Kerry G.
Kerry G.
9 years ago
@Marsha – I max out my Roth IRA and we have $8000 in the bank that is both of ours. Each and every one of us that follow this blog has different views on separate or joint finances – but he definitely won’t be spending our money! Plus, in Michigan it doesn’t matter – if a couple divorces, everything is split in half!

@JD – Thanks for your post. I hope some people can look beyond the title for a hot second!

Kate
Kate
9 years ago
Reply to  Kerry G.

Its not about a clean divorce, he can just take the money an GO.

KCM
KCM
9 years ago
Reply to  Kate

I’m confused about this comment. Can’t, in any marriage, one of the partners “take the money and go.” Trust is necessary in a healthy marriage – its not all about money. Plenty of couples think a common pot is a reasonable way to deal with money in their marriage. And the poster has a solid job – in a much better situation than her husband were she to choose to run.

Kate
Kate
9 years ago
Reply to  KCM

Yes, but when things turn south, all of those “lovey dovey”, “happily ever” after rules are out the window.

KCM
KCM
9 years ago
Reply to  KCM

Yes, Kate, some marriages dissolve and sometimes all of that happiness goes out the window. Thats the nature of a divorce.

Should that stop couples from making any decision about money/lifestyle jointly? Of course not.

Kate
Kate
9 years ago
Reply to  KCM

…No, but each person should make sure they have something saved away FOR THEM, just in case…

Marsha
Marsha
9 years ago
Reply to  Kerry G.

Saving in any way is good. I am just saying this for your sake…what if he decides he “needs” an expensive car after he graduates because he “deserves” it after “all the hard work” of earning a BA?

Men with spotty histories freak out often…just protect yourself!! 🙂

Kerry G.
Kerry G.
9 years ago
@Misty, I guess everyone has their own opinions. I will definitely be in touch in 10 years with our follow-up success story!
schmei
schmei
9 years ago

And there must be a generational rift here: I’ve referred to myself as a “sugar mama” plenty. Fairly tongue-in-cheek, but also just not a big deal.

Amy P
Amy P
9 years ago

I agree with a lot of the commenters up above. 1. Prepare for instability in the airline industry. I have a young relative who is a young pilot. He was laid off last year and was very lucky to get a new pilot job paying $18k a year. 2. Prepare for dilemmas. For instance, your job will probably pay more than his (at least to begin with), but you can work anywhere and he can’t. How do you feel about frequent relocation and starting at the bottom of the seniority pile each time? Not to mention the danger of layoffs… Read more »

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
9 years ago

The title “(and Proud of It!)” and the following paragraph don’t really jive, do they? “I didn’t want this to be my life. I want to be a provider – but I want an equal provider in my spouse. Although I know that we’ll probably fight about money, at least I won’t have to worry about him feeling less worthy. I want an equal. I want to disqualify education and money as “argument” topics. I want to have a good marriage to someone who is happy with his career and happy with his life. This education, for my husband, will… Read more »

Kerry G.
Kerry G.
9 years ago

@Tyler – “and Proud of it” for the time being would’ve been better. He does, however, have a lot of prior work experience that he’ll be bringing to the table when he begins applying for jobs, such as sales. Since he doesn’t want to be a commercial pilot and wants to go into a related aviation field, I feel this is going to be a great benefit (it helped him get his internship). To me, a job doesn’t mean we’re equal. I think I was trying to get a little bit deeper into the thought process of the whole mentality… Read more »

bon
bon
9 years ago
Reply to  Kerry G.

This is the heart of why I would change the title – you SHOULD be proud of being a sugar mama – not as a parenthetical afterthought, not just “for the time being.” Many comments tell you not to count on your husband, to plan to “trade off” or not to forget “your” goals. Guess what – you are putting your spouse through school, working, gaining a Master’s degree, saving for kids, funding your Roth IRA, and communicating well with your spouse. How many others can say the same? It sounds like you are taking care of your goals and… Read more »

Kerry G.
Kerry G.
9 years ago
Reply to  bon
Thanks Bon, and I’m not ashamed at all! The title, honestly, was the first thing that came to my mind and I chuckled when I re-read it. So I thought, “Why not?” I didn’t think it would be this big of a deal!
Nancy K.
Nancy K.
9 years ago

A lot of people with degrees from great schools and work experience are out of work in this horrible economy. I would be extremeley cautious about having a lot of faith and optimism in your husband landing a great job at 36 with a new degree and no experience.

I don’t see the big deal in either spouse, male or female, being the houshold provider while one of them goes to school. Being the sole provide while someone sits around doing nothing is a different story.

secret asian man
secret asian man
9 years ago

Take this piece of advice from a crusty RJ driver:

The easiest way to make a million in aviation is to start with two million.

Kerry G.
Kerry G.
9 years ago
Lol, I guess it won’t be easy! If we had 2 million we definitely wouldn’t be in this situation!

Also, I’m not about the $$ here, more of the happiness. It’s evident EVERY DAY he comes from flying, from being around his network of “peeps”, from talking to his professors, even from CLASS – he’s happy with his decision. He just needed someone to support him, both mentally & monetarily!

Maggie
Maggie
9 years ago

Congratulations~ I did that and I don’t regret it. I had my masters when Hubby and I got married. He continued to attend community college and achieved his Associated degree. On day we bought a $5 lottery ticket for a very large jackpot and started dreaming. He mentioned going back to school full time to get his bachelor’s in engineering. I told him that I would support that. He went back for about 3 years as a full time student, working Christmas holidays and summers and during the school year scheduling his classes around our school-age son’s schedule (to save… Read more »

Erin
Erin
9 years ago

Holy crap this sounds like my boyfriend and I, to a certain extent. We both have Master’s degrees, but he has been unemployed for 1.5 years and has been struggling to figure out what’s next. I can relate to wanting an equal partner. It’s not any fun to try and support someone (financially or otherwise) if they have no ambition to be the equal partner you need. It sounds like you feel secure in how things are going and how the future is looking. I fear I have a partner who is similar to your dad!

Kathryn C
Kathryn C
9 years ago

Single women in their twenties are making more than single men in their twenties and there are more women graduating from college than men now, so it’s not a surprise that you’re a sugar mama to your husband right now. Times are changing. It doesn’t sound like you’re “risking” your career like some say, you just have an “equal” relationship where you trade off supporting each other and then hopefully you’re both contributing at the same time at some point in the future. This is the direction we want to go ladies! We can’t pick and chose when we want… Read more »

Jan
Jan
9 years ago

I think you have your ducks in a row! He wants to do sales in the airline industry. He sounds personable. He now has the background to actually talk turkey with someone buying—plane, insurance, tools. You may have to move eventually- but it is not like the airline industry where you have to move all the time. Some of the commercial agencies hire all sales all the time. I agree that the air economy is growing. Heck, one of my friends runs a small airport in Arizona. He started with an Emery Riddle 4 year degree. Another builds airplanes in… Read more »

R S
R S
9 years ago

Despite everyone’s objections, words of advice, etc, I’d like to say I found this reader story inspiring.
After some tumultuous years, my significant other will be graduating this May, and I am both excited and nervous about our future.

I was encouraged to see that others choose this somewhat difficult path of putting life somewhat on hold while the other partner catches up. It’s not a quick path, and not the most financially stable path. But I agree, the long term benefits are worth the risk. 🙂

Kerry G.
Kerry G.
9 years ago
Reply to  R S
Thanks RS – I am so excited to see what our future holds. But man, am I ever excited to see this chapter of our lives behind us and not be in the middle of it all! It was definitely worth the blood, sweat and tears, but will be even more-so next May!

Congrats to you and yours!

robin
robin
9 years ago

of course it feels nice to be in complete control. YOU earn the money, YOU pay his way, YOU take care of all the household stuff. you really don’t even need him!

know what’s a bigger challenge? letting him share the workload.

don’t believe me? just wait until he’s finished with school and you have no more excuse to not share your domains of mastery with him. now that’s what partnership is about.

Kerry G.
Kerry G.
9 years ago
Reply to  robin

Thanks for your comment – I am hoping it will be easier, but it gives me something to think about and plan ahead for, especially if we overhall and move out of state, which would be solely for his career.

Simon
Simon
9 years ago

This is the sweetest most beautiful story I’ve read on this blog ever.

jim
jim
9 years ago

Good for Kerry and her husband. To me this seems like a smart move in general. Him getting a degree at this point is a good move for his career future in general. Her supporting his education is a good investment in their financial future. My friend is doing something similar and supporting his wife while she finishes her degree. It never occurred to me to think that what my friend was doing was a bad idea in any way. My only concern is that I’m not sure how great the aviation industry is as far as employability and wages.… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago
Reply to  jim

Her case isn’t one of those cases– she hasn’t put her career on hold. And I don’t know that in those cases that it’s necessarily that the person getting the degree is using the supporting spouse (though it may be). Just that resentment builds up when only one person is sacrificing, and when one person is growing (or just changing) and the other stagnating, people can grow apart. That’s not what is going on in this story. In this case they’re growing together. It’s just a caution for people considering one part of the couple pursuing dreams while the other… Read more »

jim
jim
9 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Yeah Nicole, I think that makes sense.

NooraK
NooraK
9 years ago

My favorite part was the note to encourage people to look at vocational schools. I don’t think this option is presented to students as readily as it should. There is a lot of talk about how Finland’s school system works so well, and I think this is one of the parts that makes it so. Students aren’t presented with a situation where they are expected to pursue academics or nothing else. They are encouraged to choose from vocational training as well, and to choose the path that suits them. Not everyone needs to earn an MBA or a PhD. We’re… Read more »

christy
christy
9 years ago

My only thought while I was reading this is ‘how do you know?’ As previous commenters have already pointed out, you’re making a LOT of assumptions. IMHO, there is SO much wrong with this situation, starting from how quickly you agreed to this scenario. You met him four years ago (when you were only 22 years old), and for the last three years you’ve been supporting him? And this started out as a long distance relationship? Yikes. I could go on (you don’t make him do stuff around the house?), but honestly, it’s not like you’re going to heed my… Read more »

Kerry G.
Kerry G.
9 years ago
Reply to  christy

Christy – I appreciate you and everyone else’s comments just as much as I appreciate the support the other readers have given. It’s healthy to know that my situation isn’t the “norm” and many people have had failures to it. I’d really love, though, some advice from the people who haven’t been successful (besides not getting married in the first place, putting my money into another savings account because he’s going to steal it and run, and making him do the majority of the housework – of which I already stated he did 1/2 if not more) of the warning… Read more »

DreamChaser57
DreamChaser57
9 years ago

I’ve really enjoyed the posts on GRS as of late. This one about a relationship where traditional gender roles don’t rule the day, frugal breakfasts, and exploring our fiscal obligations to family members. The topics are refreshing. Keep the quirky titles coming. The best posts tell a story, delving into the gray areas. We all know the black and white, tracking spending, budgets, etc.

Kate Paterson
Kate Paterson
9 years ago

I personally think that this story is amazing… This is the act of a truly unselfish woman who understands the value of a person’s self-worth. She knows how important it is for a man, or any person, to achieve their goals and be treated as an equal.. I read this post with a smile on my face because if it makes her happy, if it makes him happy, and if it makes their marriage happy then it is definitely worth the struggle!

Laundry Lady
Laundry Lady
9 years ago

My husband continued to work while I finished college. (He was 24, I was 20 when we got married). Thanks to his support I finished a semester early, saving a lot of tuition in the process. Then when he was laid off right before I graduated, he went back to school full time and took a 10 hour a week part time job. After graduation my full time (but very tiny income) kept us afloat in conjunction with his part time income. He continued to work part time, increasing his hours to 20 per week for another two years. He… Read more »

Cindy
Cindy
9 years ago

Congrats to you! You are happy, have a happy husband and life seems to be treating you good. Don’t take any of that for advantage and as many have told you here a marriage takes a lot of work. No college degree can make either one of you happy, that only comes from within yourself. I do think you will always be happy that you helped your husband complete college and by all means continue your own ambitions. Best of wishes to you & your hubby!

Jimbo
Jimbo
9 years ago

Keep on keeping on. Your fella will get the handle he needs to feel happy. Self esteem does wonders on both parts in a relationship. Although a degree does not promise automatic fortune, it’s always a parachute in any job market. I wouldn’t get caught up in the miniscule details of the tasks at hand…focus on the end goals and keep up with encouraging your fella. Av Mgmt is a tough market. With that said, if you are truly in love with him, then keep on keeping on. If you can’t…you need to tell him now and get on with… Read more »

Kenney
Kenney
9 years ago

Kerry, I commend you. Sure, there are horror stories out there, but I’m sure there are just as many successes that don’t get talked about because they aren’t fun. People act like there is one right way to go about being in a relationship, but if you feel good now doing what you’re doing, and have faith in your hubby, more power to you.

Nobody knows what the future will bring, so you can only just do the best you can to lay the foundation down today for better tomorrows. (Yes, I know that sounds cheesy 😉 )

Kerry G.
Kerry G.
9 years ago
Reply to  Kenney

Kenney – Thanks! It’s definitely not cheesy, but moreso the truth! I appreciate your comment 🙂

Jennifer
Jennifer
9 years ago

I am 26 years old, and I am currently a sugar mama 🙂 My husband joined the Marines a year after he graduated high school. He was injured while in, and was unable to re-enlist. He took a few college classes while in the Marines, but never completed anything. This week, he is starting his first semester at a community college. He plans to take classes summer, fall and spring semesters, eventually transfering to a state university. I, on the other hand, work full time as a chemical engineer. I have my BS and my MS, so I make a… Read more »

Justin
Justin
9 years ago

With more women than men graduating college these days a “sugar moma” like the writer will more than likely become the norm instead of the exception. Congrats on your success and your hubby’s pending graduation.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Kerry, As someone with an aviation background (that means I even hold licenses for some of the acronyms you mentioned): I’m glad you put together a plan before your husband went off and did that stuff willy-nilly. These days, those ratings probably cost $40k-$50k, which is not chump change to repay if he can’t find a job. But I’ve also found that putting together a plan and executing it well pays off big time. I went from line guy (fuel pumper on the flight line) to white-collar guy in two years, and I more than doubled my pay when I… Read more »

AP
AP
9 years ago

I admit at first I was a little shocked by your offer to pay for his school without a ring on it, but it seems like all is working out so I say good job! Also – is it just me or did everyone miss what Kerry does? She is a TEACHER and she is supporting 2 livelihoods?! That is excellent personal finance in my book. Good job.

Allyson
Allyson
9 years ago

It does seem like everything is working out well, and best of luck to you in the future. But I have to say I was a little taken aback by your comment “I can cross happy marriage off my bucket list.” You came across as very young and naive, which made me somewhat discredit the rest of your comments. A happy marriage isn’t something you simply purchase by writing a check.

Molly
Molly
9 years ago

Kerry– Wow! I am surprised by all the negative feedback in the comments! As another woman who has been the “sugar mama” to her husband who was working to get a college degree, I say you’re doing great. I also finished my MA degree while my husband worked on his BA. In the meantime we had a couple kids (cutest things ever). Don’t pay any attention to the people criticizing you for supporting him or for considering your marriage a happy one or for stating that getting a college degree will make your husband happy. 1) People support each other… Read more »

Laura in Cancun
Laura in Cancun
9 years ago
Reply to  Molly

This 🙂

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