Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Earning less during the holidays: a (different) feminist perspective

It's that wonderful time of year again! The holidays are right around the corner, the streets are twinkly with fairy lights, and we're frantically creating hearty lists of thoughtful gifts to get for each of our loved ones. It's the time of year when we're full of love and laughter, and are bursting to show our friends and family just how much we appreciate them. 

In all the excitement and holiday joy, it can be easy to forget just how expensive this season is. So many of us find it hard to resist spending that tiny bit extra on the perfect present for those special people in our lives. After all, it's the season of giving and it'll make that special someone so happy! Remember that gorgeous perfume your mom adores but hasn't bought for herself in ages? Great! How about that slightly too expensive but adorable clutch that would be perfect for your best friend? Throw it in the cart and head to the register! you tell yourself. 

While spoiling your friends is fine on occasion, it's easy to go a little crazy with your spending at the holidays, and this can be detrimental to your both bank account and your future if you don't take care and create a budget for yourself. It can be even easier to fall into this trap if you make significantly less money than your family, friends and significant other. Believe me, I know. The inability to spoil the people you care about can be difficult, especially if they are able to buy more extravagant gifts for you. So what's a girl to do?

This past year I made the extremely scary decision to quit my job and go to graduate school to pursue a more fulfilling career, and things have been...tighter since I headed back to the classroom. I'm so lucky to have a partner who is supportive and willing to take on some additional expenses while I work to pay for classes, books, gas and school supplies. While I appreciate and adore his support, it is sometimes difficult to feel like I can't split things halfway, or that I won't be able to buy him something truly outstanding to thank him for all of his support this year. After all, isn't that what the feminist movement is all about - equality (including with your bank account!) between men and women? 

I could tell myself that my financial strain is just for this holiday season and that I'll make up for it in the future, but if I'm honest, my chosen career will never provide a comparable salary to that of my man. And I'm learning to be okay with that. Instead of lamenting the fact that I can't shower my boyfriend with gifts, I've been brainstorming creative ways to say thank you that don't cost a lot of money. A homemade meal over Christmas, a decorated apartment and scented candles that smell of pine and cider to fill our home with the smells of his favorite time of year? Done. Making sure to do some extra laundry and keep our home especially clean? Perfect. A card stuffed under the pillow on Christmas morning telling him how much I love him? (Would have been a great idea, but I'm sure he'll read this before then). The point is, it's the little things you do and the effort you put into creating a special holiday for the two of you that counts for so much more than a shiny gift on Christmas, or whichever holiday you celebrate. 

I know a lot of you must be feeling some anxiety over your smaller salaries. After all, according to, only 29% of women currently out-earn their husbands and in 49 / 50 states, women earn less overall than men. Of course, it is imperative that we fight for income equality as well as the presence of more women in executive positions, but for those of us who have chosen careers that will never provide the same earning potential as our partners, we need to accept and even embrace just that: we are partners.  Earning less money than your man doesn't mean you're any less of a feminist - the fact that you have a choice in your career proves that. So what if you chose a profession that fulfills you but doesn't pay loads of money? You know your worth, and the ability to buy an expensive tie doesn't change that. So this holiday season, don't stress about not being able to buy the most expensive gift in the department store. Instead, concentrate on the little everyday things you can do to say I love you and show your appreciation for all of the wonderful people you have in your life. 


  1. Very inspiring post!
    Kat x

  2. Saying thank you with the little things means a lot to me♥

  3. So who is the 50th state, where women earn more than men?? I must go to there :-P Great post! I empathize with so many of these feelings and love the idea of focusing on decorations as opposed to gifts - reusable and benefits everyone!

    1. ...I need to edit whatever profile that picture of me from 8 years ago is associated with...

  4. wow that wrapping is the prettiest :)

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