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Financial Mistakes Married Women Make


When women fall in love, they often hand the purse strings over to their husbands. As a divorce attorney, it is the single biggest mistake I see women make. Once a woman gives all the financial decision making power to her husband, she puts herself in a very vulnerable position. Especially when the marriage ends!
This isn’t purely a women’s issue, of course. Men can just as easily fall into the same traps. But women are more likely to give up careers to raise children, and are more likely to outlive their husbands.

Here are some common financial mistakes married women make — along with some advice on how to avoid them.

1. Handing Over the Purse Strings

By not engaging in the family finances, women set themselves up for potential financial hardships. Financial ignorance is not bliss. I have clients who handled their finances just fine when they were single. When they married they handed all their financial power over to their husbands only to later find themselves divorcing and in trouble with the IRS and creditors. Their husbands had gambling habits, debts and problems with the IRS. In some cases, women have had to file for bankruptcy.

My advice? Be an equal partner in all the financial decisions. Be part of the process. Look over the monthly bills, bank statements, credit card bills and ask questions. Be familiar with the family’s overall financial picture. Know where accounts are held; interact with the accountant, financial planner and attorneys handling financial matters. If he knows, so should you. Don’t shy away from being in charge of your financial destiny.

2. Losing Your Financial Identity

Maintain your own credit card. When women get married and give up their own credit cards to be just an authorized user of their husband’s card, they don’t realize that it is difficult to later secure a credit card on their own. In a situation like this a woman’s lack of active credit card history can work against her. If divorcing, it could take a good six months to secure a credit card in your name and you will be offered only high-rate credit cards with small lines of credit. Credit bureaus won’t calculate a FICO score (the most common credit score used) for individuals whose credit history has been inactive for six months or longer.

My advice? Keep your own credit card. You have a credit history and hopefully good credit scores. Don’t give that away! Keep separate credit card accounts and set-up three separate bank accounts: yours, his and ours.

3. Walking Away From Your Career

While you might welcome the chance to stay home with your children, the longer you’re out of the work force, the harder it can be to jump back in. Women often face lower wages or lower job titles when they try to return to work after a long hiatus. Think long and hard about giving everything up.
My Advice? Work part-time just to keep yourself in the work force. Keep your skills fresh. And remember, you may return to the work force for one reason or another. Divorce, unfortunately can be a possibility and children eventually do grow up! So don’t lose touch completely. Take some consulting projects, do some charity work, be part of some professional networking organizations. This will help you maintain your career identity.
4. Not Saving for Retirement

Some married women don’t feel it is necessary to save for retirement. Married women tend to rely on their husbands since they are the breadwinners and women expect to be provided for during their golden years. This is not often the case.

My advice? Start saving Now! Make it a priority. Start pinching your pennies, if necessary.