How to stop coming off second-best
In many ways I consider myself lucky enough to come from a family where the girls were encouraged to have careers and have financial independence. Not just my generation, but generations before me. All my aunts and uncles on my father’s side were well qualified and had good careers. My paternal grandmother was a feminist before the word was invented. It was ‘normal’ for me to have a career all my life. Not every woman is as lucky, and shaking off those ‘family’ values that are so deeply instilled can be extremely difficult. We’re also living in a very different era. When I was at school in the 70’s only one kid in the entire school came from a ‘broken’ home. Today as many as half the kids have divorced parents. It is the new normal.
Even if a woman has a career, I keep coming across women who abdicate the financial responsibility in a relationship to the man. “I am hopeless with finance, I just let him do that,” and when they divorce they wonder why they get a Snot-Klap.
Nobody goes into a marriage thinking about divorce. We all think we’re going to beat the odds – I know. I am one of them. Unlike many other women though, I was intimately involved in the finances. That advantage, and the fact that the divorce wasn’t acrimonious- we sat down like grown-ups, wrote down all the assets and liabilities and split them up over the dining room table, saving tens of thousands in divorce lawyer fees – made sure I got back on my feet quickly. How you marry really does matter, I have blogged about the various marriage contracts HERE, so I won’t repeat myself.
‘Money can’t buy you love, but it can buy you independence’. The best thing a woman can do, throughout her life, is to make sure she always has that independence. There are a number of steps to achieve this:
- Think twice, and then think a third time before you give up your career to be a home-maker.
- If you do decide to be a home-maker, keep your technology skills right up to date, maybe do that degree you always wanted to do, start a business from home, look for freelance online opportunities, learn business and finance skills. Even if you never divorce, there is a chance that you might be a widow at some stage in your life – and you really need to know how to manage your finances and investments.
- Find an advisor who will take the time to help you learn those skills over time, show you how things work without jargon, point out the small print so you don’t have to go looking for it.
- Never abdicate the responsibility for your finances to your spouse. Do your own taxes, have you own life policies, investments and retirement funds. If you have the same financial advisor, make sure you’re included in all meetings, and ask questions if you don’t understand, no matter how many times you need to ask. If you’re not happy with the advice, get a second opinion.
- If either of you are previously married with children, I strongly recommend you take out life policies on each other, not in your own name. If you ‘own’ the policy the beneficiaries cannot be changed. If the policy is in your own hands, not owned by another person, like your spouse, they can change the beneficiary in 30 seconds and you will be none the wiser.
- If you divorced and can’t come to an amicable agreement, get the best lawyer you can. Better than his. Never mind the ante nuptial contract, or community of property, you can get screwed. Try using a mediator or coach to help you split the assets.
Actions: Ladies, if you have been abdicating your finances, take charge again. If you can’t understand your husband’s advisor – get your own.
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Author Dawn Ridler