How To Financially Fortify Yourself As A Wife

October 16, 2019  |  
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Nobody wants to think that their marriage would go down the drain, and so nobody wants to prepare for such a thing. It’s funny because, we completely understand the need for insurance in other areas. We buy car insurance, obviously hoping to never be in an accident, and driving safely to minimize the chances we meet that deductible. We buy health insurance, and do all we can to avoid having to rely on it, like getting those checkups and living a healthy lifestyle. Just because we know we can count on ourselves to live in a way that should make it so we never or rarely need insurance in other areas, we still understand the importance of insurance. So, why not in marriage? If you were to get a divorce, the last thing you would need in addition to the emotional turmoil would be complete financial devastation. Here are ways to financially fortify yourself as a wife.

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Have your name on the home

Perhaps, due to your income or credit score, you and your partner decide that only he should be on the home loan. That’s fine, and quite generous of him to take that on. But your name should still be on the deed of the house. Otherwise, getting any sort of equity in it in the case of a divorce will become a serious battle.

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Review credit card statements

Just take a few minutes each month to go over credit card statements. If you and your partner have joined finances, then you have the right to make sure he’s managing those finances correctly. You should speak up if you notice his car payment is $700 a month or that work/social club he joined requires a $600 a month membership fee. All of that money is being drained from funds that, one day, may have been yours to split in the event of a divorce.

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Review checking accounts

While you’re reviewing those credit card statements, review checking accounts. Remember that this is where your partner would take cash out of or write checks from. None of this is to say that your partner would intentionally do something shady or that would jeopardize you. But, often, husbands feel entitled to making financial decisions that affect both parties, without consulting their partner. They think they’re sparing you the trouble of hearing about it, but they could be hurting you.

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Don’t quit work entirely

However you can do it, stay in the work game—even if just a little. If you can do consulting work from home while raising kids or do some part-time work, it’s very important that you don’t just completely step out of the work game for decades. Should you get a divorce and need to work again, that 10 or 20-year employment gap won’t look good.

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Really, keep up some work

Remember that working can also mean benefits like unemployment and social security. If you don’t work at all for the span of, say, an 18-year-marriage, you dwindle those resources down to next to nothing for the time you really need them.

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Put an expiration date on the pre-nup

Pre-nups are responsible things to have, and you can tailor them pretty much any way you like. But also keep in mind that, after being with a partner for decades, perhaps a prenup is no longer appropriate. Some couples place an expiration date on their prenup, and the conditions become null and void after, say, ten years of marriage. At that point, you’ve entangled your life and finances so much with your partner’s that the restrictions of that original pre-nup may not be appropriate.

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Keep family heirlooms in your name

The apartment that your grandparents passed down to you. The small business you run for your parents. These are family assets and, as such, should remain in your bloodline. Hopefully your partner will understand if you’d like to keep them that way. Imagine getting a divorce and losing your great grandparent’s apartment to your husband, who didn’t even know them.

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Create a post-nuptial agreement

A post-nuptial agreement is created during marriage, and makes arrangements for the couples assets and affairs, should they get a divorce. It can be worth it to make such an agreement when you are getting along and still have one another’s best interests at heart.

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Create a custodial account

This one is for the kids. It’s sad to think of, but remember that sometimes, a spouse can mishandle money so poorly that he throws away anything that could have gone to the kids. A custodial account can protect them from that. This is an account set up by an adult, but that is in the name of a minor. It is in your children’s name, so if you set it up for them, your spouse cannot drain it. Once they become adults, the money becomes available to your kids.

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Have a personal savings account

You may have a joint savings account with your partner, but have one for yourself, too. You can put just a bit of your paycheck or monthly earnings in there. This will be a valuable cushion, should anything go sideways in your marriage.

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Do not acquire his debts

If your partner has any debts he acquired before you got married—like student loans or business loans—do not sign on as a joint account holder. Why might you do this? Well, perhaps he wants to refinance a business loan, and having your name on the loan application would enhance his chances for a better rate because you have better credit. Leave him on his own with that one. As soon as your name is on that debt, you are also responsible for paying it.

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Do not take on debts for the marriage

Don’t let your partner convince you to take on debts alone for the two of you, either. So, for example, if you need to lease a car for the family, don’t be the only one on the loan. While you’re happy and together, your partner may gladly pay half of that payment each month, but if you split up, the lender sees you and only you as responsible for paying the debt. How likely is it that your ex would continue to help you out?

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Learn about your joint investments

If your partner wants to make investments with large amounts of your joint money, don’t just agree to whatever he says. Even if he presents a good case, ask to see the supporting documents. You have the right to review the facts surrounding this investment.

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Have some investments of your own

Have a couple of investments of your own. Continuing to work comes in mind again, as you could have a 401K through work. But you could also speak to a financial advisor and slowly start to put some money into stocks and bonds.

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Always keep your eyes open

Just keep your eyes peeled. Remember that even partners with good intentions can make bad financial decisions that would greatly hurt you in the event of a divorce—or even while you’re still married. Don’t let your partner just take over the finances, even if it seems like a relief to you. It could damage you.

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