When many couples get married, the wife tends to relinquish all financial decisions and chores to her husband. This is even more common when the wife stays at home to raise the kids while her husband is the sole breadwinner.
Many women feel uncomfortable making financial decisions and find it easier to leave these tasks to their husbands. While it might seem like the easiest, or smartest, decision, it can actually leave you quite vulnerable in the event of divorce or if your husband passes unexpectedly.
Here are 5 things every wife needs to do in order to protect herself.
1. Have Your Own Accounts
Even though you are married, you are still your own person. If all of your credit cards, bank accounts, and other financial documents are in your husband’s name, you will have no financial history. This can leave you with a very poor credit score. Make sure to have a bank account and at least one credit card in your own name.
You can use your bank account to build an emergency fund, which will provide you with some stability in the event that anything happens to your husband. These accounts will also help you to build up your credit history, which will help you to get loans and other necessities should you need them.
2. Participate in Bill Paying Duties
If your husband is the one who takes care of paying all of the bills, participate with him. You might feel uncomfortable making financial decisions, especially if he is the sole wage-earner, but this is important. It is necessary for you to know how the money comes in and where it goes out every month. You can even go so far as to take turns paying bills.
3. Review Financial Documents
Go over every financial document that you have. Look over tax returns each year before you sign them. Review legal documents, investment agreements, and real estate contracts. Keep copies of 401(k)s, brokerage accounts, and life insurance policies in a safe place and have them updated annually.
Get a full credit report every year (you are entitled to one free one annually) to make sure that there are no surprises. It is also a good idea to get to know any financial advisors your husband has, such as lawyers or investment planners, so that you are more comfortable making decisions should you need to.
4. Plan for the Future
Make sure that both you and your husband have sufficient life insurance, especially if you have children. You can opt for a term or a whole life policy, but having adequate coverage for the both of you is essential.
It is important to have a will as well as a living trust. You may even want to consider putting money aside for long-term care such as an assisted living facility or in-home care.
Don’t forget about retirement planning either. As a married couple, you can both contribute up to $5,500 each year, or $6,500 if you are over age 50.
5. Get Funeral Insurance
While thinking about the passing of your spouse can be scary, it is important to be prepared. Funerals can be expensive, costing several thousand dollars. You may also be left with your husband’s outstanding debts and have no way to pay for them. Funeral insurance is a type of insurance that is there to cover the costs of a funeral, helping to ease the financial burden. You can even tailor the insurance policy to provide you with enough money to cover any debts that are left behind.
While having one person be in charge of the finances might seem easier, it can actually be quite harmful in the long run. Unfortunately, unexpected death or divorce can happen. Taking the steps to protect yourself now will help you to ensure a more financially secure future.