Today, it’s an honor to share this interview with Meghan Rabuse. She went to Notre Dame on scholarship and worked in investment banking, and later at a hedge fund, when her first child was born. During maternity leave, her childcare plans unexpectedly fell through, and she made the decision to stay home full-time instead of returning to work.
Now, she stays home with her three kids while working to bridge the female financial literacy gap through her popular blog, Family Finance Mom. In this interview, she’s sharing her story and talking honestly about pursuing your dreams as a stay-at-home-mom.
Tell us a little bit about yourself! How did you and your husband meet? How did you get into finance?
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas. My mom was a kindergarten teacher, and my dad works in heavy construction sales. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved math. I loved and did well in school, and earned a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame (which was instrumental in helping me afford to go there).
I majored in Finance, and met my husband there. He sat behind me in Mergers & Acquisitions in my senior year, and he was in the MBA program. We now have 3 kids—two girls, ages 7 and 5, and a boy, age 3.
Did you always plan to be a stay-at-home-mom? What was your inspiration for starting Family Finance Mom?
My life is so different since becoming a mother than I ever envisioned. I never thought in a million years I would be a stay-at-home-mom.
I was a financial analyst, and started my career working as an investment banking analyst for Morgan Stanley. We advised major corporations on their finances and helped them raise money through IPOs and debt offerings, as well as on buying other companies.
I left at the end of my analyst program, to follow the path many Wall Street analysts do, and went to work for a hedge fund. In a hedge fund you do similar work, analyzing companies’ financials, but instead of advising the companies themselves, you are doing it to invest on behalf of major investors (like school endowments, pension funds, and high net worth individuals).
Two weeks before I was supposed to go back to work after maternity leave, our nanny was scheduled to come shadow me and get acquainted with my daughter. That day, before she had even really started, she started getting flakey on hours, wanted us to pay her for snow days, and wanted a 20% pay increase.
Given the hours that my husband and I both worked, and the travel I did for my job, we could never have made a daycare work. With two parents working 60+ hours a week, plus commute times, we literally would have been paying someone else to raise our children and seen them only on weekends.
That night, when my husband came home, through a lot of tears on my end, I ended up deciding to stay home. It was the hardest decision I ever made, but in hindsight, it was absolutely the best decision for our family.
It was also that transition that ultimately seeded the beginning of Family Finance Mom.
As a mom, I realized how many financial decisions I was still tasked with every single day. And in talking to my fellow moms, I learned how all families face these too—but most have tremendous fear, uncertainty and lack confidence and the knowledge to make these decisions. They want to do what’s best for their families, but they aren’t sure what that is.
Can you tell us more about Family Finance Mom? What are your goals, hopes, and dreams for this in the future?
My goal for Family Finance Mom is to bridge the female financial literacy gap. In college, I was one of only 4 women in most of my senior-level finance courses (of 40+ students). In my career, I was frequently the only female professional at the conference table.
And that’s not necessarily the industry’s doing—it’s self-selection too. Women opt out of most S.T.E.M. fields, and you can see that it happens sometime between high school and college, when you look at the data about the courses kids take in high school and the ultimate degree paths they choose in college.
It’s not that you need a degree in finance to be financially literate, but it carries over. Women save more of their income, but invest less than men. Women also earn less, and when you compound that with lower investment, it leads to huge gaps for retirement—and most women outlive men.
A disproportionate number of women end up living in poverty in retirement. That needs to change.
I want moms to feel confident about making financial decisions for their family and themselves by equipping them with financial knowledge. And I want them to teach that to their kids, especially their daughters…because studies show we don’t teach our kids about money, and teach our girls even less!
I want them to know that a man is not a financial plan, because 90% of us will at some point in our lives, either before marriage, post-divorce, or as a widow, be responsible for handling our finances on our own.
A disproportionate number of women end up living in poverty in retirement. That needs to change.
I have been totally humbled by the growth of the Family Finance Mom community on Instagram. I started my account late last year, and the growth, engagement, support and best of all, the questions I get from followers, make it a better resource for everyone.
I’m currently running my first course, “A Year to Financial Fitness.” It’s one simple task each week for the year to improve your family’s overall finances, which includes everything from building and maintaining a budget, to finding savings, planning for retirement, and building general financial literacy. It’s closed for 2019, but will be open again at the end of the year for 2020.
I also have a budgeting course in development that will be open soon, and hope to work on an investing one next. You can get a sense of what it will be like by catching my Monday Market lessons on Instagram now.
I started blogging about this as a mental outlet—motherhood was full of challenges, emotionally and physically, but I missed the mental challenge of finance and research. Now there is so much content I’d love to create, but there are only 24 hours in a day. I have to remind myself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and I have to be content with what my time permits.
And I have to recognize my season in life right now. In a year, my son will be in preschool for 3 days a week instead of 2, and my “office hours” will double. Family Finance Mom is definitely my passion project, my lifesaving mental outlet, and I hope it can become so much more. But my family and being a mom is still, and will always be, my first priority.
What are some of the qualities that you strive to cultivate in your family and marriage to make this work and find balance and peace?
Whether in your family or in your office, it’s important to recognize that all the members are part of a team, and we all play a role. All the team members have different strengths and weaknesses, and the goal is you come together to support and complement each others’ abilities, so that collectively you are greater together.
We work really hard to encourage our own and our kids’ interests and passions. Those are what make life fulfilling, and where you find great happiness.
To do that, you also have to tune out a lot of the outside noise. Don’t worry about what your neighbors or friends are doing…everyone’s interests and abilities are unique. Spend your time finding and supporting your family’s.
What advice would you have for a young woman reading this who is pregnant and trying to figure out what steps to take next in her career?
One of my fears as a mother is that my daughters will see my example and think that they can’t pursue their dreams, because they see me “just at home” with them.
But here’s what I would say to you if you share that fear, and to my daughters one day in the future: if in your heart you want to be home with your family, don’t be afraid of that unknown. Everything you experience in life is additive to who you are as a person.
Becoming a mother will not diminish your professional skill set or your education to this point, but it will impact the hours in your day and your priorities.
When looking at your career, your interests, your family, you have to constantly evaluate what is in alignment with your goals and priorities, and what is detracting, because time does become so much more precious.
Everything you experience in life is additive to who you are as a person.
And personally, I would never have started blogging, or discovered this entire new outlet for my skill set, if I hadn’t stayed home… so be open to new opportunities that life’s changes offer.
You’ve built up a strong following on social media. Any advice for those of us who are striving to navigate that as a tool without losing ourselves in it?
Social media can be an awesome resource – but it can also generate a lot of self-doubt, especially for those who lack self-confidence. Recognize that each person you see online is an individual, sharing their superpower. Nobody is superwoman doing it all.
One is great at cooking, another photography, a third loves fashion. They are former teachers doing learning activities with their kids. Or former hedge fund analysts sharing their knowledge that came from a degree and a decade in the industry. But they are individuals, they are not one superwoman doing all of it.
Realize that we all share our super powers, and this isn’t intended to make your life harder, but to help make life easier; you get the benefit of all that expertise and experience for essentially FREE. You choose what you want to apply in your own life, based on your interests and talents.
And don’t forget: you have a superpower too. Don’t lose it trying to be the superwoman doing it all.
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