WARNING: These are HANDBOOK POSTS -- WRITTEN A LONG TIME AGO by some great women with great thoughts and deemed as handbook worthy by FDS mods for a reason. If you feel triggered or disagree with something -- THE SMART THING TO DO IS TO MOVE ON. Agree to disagree and go on your merry way. Stop trying to start bullsh*t in the comment section because I have no patience to deal with you.
Originally posted in FDS subreddit. All rights reserved to the original writer.
Ladies, let’s talk about money! Whether you're single, dating, or married, all women need to be financially literate. Here are my tips to help protect yourself and to increase your financial security at all stages of your life.
How often have you read posts with the following theme: “my boyfriend and I live together, we split everything 50/50, he makes twice what I do, and I’m struggling to get by while he has ample room in his budget for personal spending and saving”?
Or how about “my husband was laid off three years ago, we don’t have any kids, and we’re going into debt while I try to work 60+ hours to support us”?
Or how about “two years ago, I became a stay at home mom, and my husband still expects me to pay my equal share of the bills from my savings even though I stay home with the kids all day”?
Situations of financial imbalance in a relationship are an extremely common trend on many relationship subreddits. Sadly, it’s far too easy for women to be taken advantage of or financially abused.
Women don’t talk enough about money, and we don’t spend enough time educating ourselves about money. Here at Female Dating Strategy, we want to make sure you’re set up for financial success. While I’m neither a finance expert nor a relationship expert, here are some of my personal tips to help ensure you’re more financially secure in the future:
1) Always have your own money in an emergency fund somewhere that’s immediately available.
This applies to all women, regardless of relationship status. My mom taught me to “have the money to take the kids and run if you ever have to.” She’s a smart woman. Please listen to her. It doesn’t need to be a huge amount, but you should have enough to be financially secure for at least a few months if things go south.
2) Make sure to establish your career before you start a family.
Get an education. Start your first job or two. Make mistakes. Find your path. Try new things. See what you like. If you’re in a relationship as a young woman, the right partner will support you during this journey and recognize how critical it is for your wellbeing.
3) Do not put yourself in debt for your relationship.
It’s not worth it. Not only are you screwing yourself over now, you’re screwing your future self over as you’re spending years digging out of debt. What’s worse than breaking up with a LVM? Breaking up with a LVM in debt from your relationship with him.
4) Financial subreddits are full of co-signing horror stories.
I don’t care if he’s your boyfriend of three years or if he’s your husband of ten years. You are taking on an enormous amount of risk if you co-sign on a loan. Think very, very carefully before you agree to it. You will be held legally responsible for the loan until it is paid off. This can get especially tricky in the event of a divorce. Do you want to be paying off your ex-husbands loans if he stops paying? Nah, sis.
5) Buying property with a boyfriend is risky business.
Yes, you’re madly in love and totally going to get married one day… or so you think. A few of my otherwise very smart female friends have been caught in this trap. If you are committed to buying together outside of the safety net of marriage, please talk to a lawyer to get advice and proper documentation in place to protect yourself in the event of a breakup.
6) Finances evolve over time.
What works at one stage of your life and your relationship will not work forever. Negotiate for a system that works for you. Are you struggling to contribute your supposedly “fair share” each month? Has your or your partner’s financial situation changed? Have kids been added to the mix? Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Don’t let yourself be stuck in a system that isn’t in your best interest. My (still married) parents went from completely merged finances early in their relationship to largely separate finances by the time their 25th wedding anniversary rolled around.
7) Prenups aren’t romantic.
No one wants to think about divorce when they’re still admiring the shiny new rock on their left hand. Do your due diligence to learn about prenups and whether or not having one would be beneficial to you. Get an attorney who will help you understand your rights and then advocate in your best interest during the negotiation. Even if you “don’t have much,” you might be surprised to find what protections a prenup can offer you in your jurisdiction.
8) Marriage is much more than “just a piece of paper.”
Stand your ground on this issue. Don’t let a boyfriend bully/shame you into being a forever girlfriend. If you do not personally want to get married, that’s perfectly fine, however, you need to recognize that marriage comes with legal protections you may not be entitled to otherwise. Find an attorney to talk about your options and how you can best protect yourself out of wedlock.
9) Keep some skin in the game if you’re a stay at home mom.
Yes, raising your children can be your priority, but make some space for your career, too. Learn a new skill. Take a class. Read challenging books. Get your Master’s. Write a blog. Attend networking events. Stay in touch with former colleagues. You never know when you might unexpectedly find yourself back out in the workforce.
10) Never ever let your partner control all of your finances in a relationship.
You need insight into the financial health of your family. This is critical. You should have access to all shared accounts from credit cards to car financial services to retirement accounts to investment accounts to monthly bills. You need to know what money is coming in and what money is going out. “I don’t really bother with that stuff. He takes care of all our finances” is a death wish.
11) Family finances are extremely personal.
What works for your mom, your sister, your best friend… might not work for you. Who cares if everyone you know is a “one big pot shared finances” family? If that system doesn’t work for you, don’t use it. Find a system that does work for you, and don’t be afraid to experiment with your partner here. Again, finances evolve over time, so the system you start with might not be the one you use down the road.
12) You are a grown ass woman. You are not a child. You do not receive a weekly/monthly “allowance” from your husband. His money is YOUR money.
End of story. If your family financial system reserves money for personal spending, make sure it is equitable for you both. That means if you’re a stay at home mom whose job is raising the children, your personal spending money is equal to your husband’s, and it is not an “allowance.” You don’t get a meager $100 for yourself each month while your husband feels entitled to do whatever he wants because “he has the job and he makes all the money.”
SayNad's Note: Your money is YOUR money. His money is for YOU and the family. PERIOD. He can't do that? Don't go near women, try fasting instead.
13) Financial issues are one of the top reasons for divorce.
Schedule regular time to connect with your partner or yourself about finances. You should be making time to talk about where your finances are, what changes need to be made, where your debts are at, what your financial goals are, upcoming major purchases, retirement planning, etc… Sit down once a month for an hour or two with a glass of wine to talk money. Yes, it will be awkward the first few times, and then you’ll find your rhythm. Once a month might be too frequent, but you might find there are times where you need to check in about finances more. Single women, take time to do the same with your personal finances.
14) In the event of divorce, get a good attorney.
Again, negotiate for your best interests (and the best interests of your children). You may be entitled to alimony and child support. Always, always, always pursue it. Even if you “don’t need it.” When women say “oh, I don’t bother with child support because we’re fine,” the only people that are getting hurt are you and the kids. Your ex certainly isn’t upset about not paying. If you’re fine managing on your own, squirrel the child support money away to give to your kids one day. They will thank you.
15) Estate planning isn’t fun by any means, but it is critical especially if you have any property, kids, or specific end of life requests.
My mom has pretty clear instructions (and funds set aside) for the wild funeral party of her dreams. Keep in mind that estate planning is not “one and done.” Regardless of your relationship status, you should be reviewing your wills and trusts with estate attorneys at least every 3-5 years. Your estate needs will evolve greatly over time. Think about what protections a single woman needs versus a young couple with toddlers versus a retired couple with grown kids.
I’m in the United States, and I recognize some of these tips do apply more to our laws or culture here. I’d love to hear any additional tips you might have, especially if they’re helpful for women living in other countries. The whole point of FDS is empowerment and leveling up, and the more we help each other, the better off we all are.
Interested in learning more about finances? I highly recommend checking out Barbara Huson’s books starting with “Prince Charming Isn't Coming: How Women Get Smart About Money.” She was a wealthy woman who married a LVM and let him drag her into financial ruin. After that, Barbara took control of her own finances, and she focuses on educating women about how to do the same.
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