First Time Breadwinner

I am certain that each of us has supported ourselves at some point in our lives. Perhaps you worked your way through college or landed a great gig right after graduation that led to the first house or car purchase, etc. Or maybe you started taking care of your own financial needs even sooner – to which I tip my hat.  

With full disclosure of my age and that I was raised in the South, allow me to say, I did not ever picture myself being the SOLE breadwinner for a family. I knew I would be working. Contributing to the household, but in my formative years, I did not really map out how it might go down if I was, IT.  

And now I am. My other half was granted a full-ride college scholarship through the VA. Thirteen years with the Marine Corps after high school, a disability based discharge, and a comparably long work life in the hospitality field positioned him to qualify for this phenomenal opportunity. (If you have military family members who are serviced by the Veterans’ Administration and are seeking or needing a change in work, encourage some research on the VREP program – Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Program). A once-in-a-lifetime chance to get a college education?! Wow! We were stunned and thrilled.  

So, my college freshman started in fall 2015. This 48-month gig will roll along until May or August 2019. Depending on how the classes map out. While the VA does provide a monthly stipend during the months he is actively attending classes, umm, those 3 figures do not go far. So, bring home the bacon, momma.  

It is definitely a different sensation. A different set of lenses. Until this phase, I have spent my working years trying to improve myself, finding different niches, changing paths, and striving to move along professionally. That is all good and well – but now, there is another layer. Now, it is more important to figure out how I can best position myself to provide for my little family. The 6th grader who will be in high school when daddy graduates needs his own college funds. This house still needs some love.  Being prepared for “oopsies” becomes a forefront thought, not a back burner one since there is less padding.  Yikes. Budget is a 6 character, 4 letter word some days. For me, this angle is different, and, occasionally overwhelming.  

But when I exhale, I can see all of the pieces of this puzzle for which I am grateful. I am grateful this is a short-lived phase of life. That my husband is living the dream of college he always wanted. That HE is the college student and not me! I am grateful the 6th grader sees how hard his dad is working in school and will hopefully have some idea of how college “works” when he gets there. And for my steady job that has good benefits and bosses who understand family. I am grateful that my country saw fit to give this Marine the greatest “thank you for your service” possible. I am grateful for the opportunities it will give us.  

But mostly, this breadwinner is grateful for the plans I am dreaming up for the best graduation party EVER. 


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Catherine is a 40++ year old newlywed with a newly adopted 11 year old son. Bred, born and raised in Carrollton, GA, she left town in a cloud of dust at 17 for college, graduate school, marriages, stepchildren, jobs/careers, and almost double digit number of moves that took her all the way to Colorado by way of Tennessee and Kansas. All in all, 23 years of well-lived, well-learned life - with great memories and lessons to share. This threesome returned to Carrollton in 2014 to be closer to family and raise Little Man in a strong, but smaller community with access to bigger city items when desired. And it has been wonderful - except for the humidity.


  1. My husband took advantage of the GI Bill after his Air Force service and I too found myself the breadwinner as he was knee deep in Spanish classes and college math. It brought me a lot of joy knowing he could focus on school while I worked. I think some of his family members thought it was odd (they are mostly blue collar) but we didn’t care. And now he’s close to finishing his Masters and we are all so proud of him for following his dreams!

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