By Stephanie Spillmann 9/27/17 This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more here.
Stay-at-Home Moms: Household Finances are Your Business Too
“If you are dependent on your husband or partner to support you, it is easy to lack the courage to speak up on behalf of yourself and your family.” Suze Orman
Don’t Be in the Dark About Your Finances
Women have a knack for taking care of everyone and everything but themselves. Stay-at-home moms are prime candidates for falling into this trap. I was a stay-at-home mom for 26 years, and I urge you: Don’t be in the dark about your finances just because you’re not the income earner. Household finances are your business too.
Marriage is a partnership in every aspect of running a household (or it should be). This especially applies to your finances and budgeting. Never let yourself believe — or your partner tell you — that you are not worthy of being informed about and regularly involved with your money. It is YOUR money, as in both partners, regardless of whose name is on that W-2 form.
I once calculated how much it would cost to pay me for the various work I did in over 20 years of raising four kids. Let’s just say I’d be a millionaire, fair and square, today…and that is no joke. You are worth every penny your husband or partner earns. I’ll repeat…YOU are worth every penny your husband or partner earns. And in a divorce situation, almost any state will support you in that as well.
God forbid that divorce is ever something that happens to you, or that you suffer the death of your spouse or partner. But life is real, and it’s messy, and just because you don’t want something to ever happen doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared.
Your value demands that you take time for hard conversations with your partner or spouse. This is not easy to do if you’ve been left in the dark financially, or have chosen to opt out of your finances. If you need help in this area, by all means, seek counseling or attend a finance workshop for couples. There are many free workshops offered at various times of the year by local churches. Call around and find one.
There is no guilt or shame in not being knowledgeable about your finances, but now is the time to take steps and change that. Taking your financial temperature and determining the next course of action is a very wise choice. Moms get busy and wives and partners get into a rut of doing things the same old way — it’s easy to do.
Ask your partner to sit down with you at the earliest opportunity and lay out all of the bills, accounts, investments, and debt that you have as a couple and individually. Sit together and ask questions, if you need to. Talk about strategies for better budgeting if you’re noticing a lot of unpaid debt. Be sure to discuss where the debt is coming from and make a plan to face it head on.
Four Crucial Things Every Stay at Home Mom Should Have:
- A credit card of your own, in your own name. If you don’t qualify based on any earnings you may have on the side, you should be able to qualify as the spouse of someone who does have credit cards. Make sure you aren’t simply a qualified user on your partner’s account. This is a card that is only yours. If this isn’t possible through your partner, you can start with a secured credit card and try qualifying for a regular card after several months.
**Sign up for our FREE Guide to the 10 Best Credit Cards for Beginners
- A savings account of your own. You may already have a joint savings account, but open a separate one that is yours only. This is a vital step towards having a safety net of your own and becoming more in tune with your finances as an independent person.
You can fund it with your birthday money if you like. There are survey sites, job boards, and many other ways to make a little extra cash online. Rent out your car on Turo when you’re not using it. Get creative — the key is to put something in there as often as you can, no matter how small.
I’ve been participating in paid focus groups for years with two companies in downtown Denver. I always enjoyed escaping my domestic life and driving to the city for the evening. You can also sell unused gift cards that are sitting around. Card Kangaroo will quote you an offer and send out a check right away.
- You must know your FICO credit score. This is key for any future loans, housing rentals, and other financial assistance you may need in the future. Some potential employers now check for good credit as well. If you don’t have any or much established credit, that’s another great reason to get a credit card that is solely in your name. You can build your credit with secured credit cards as well. Money Talks News has a great article with 6 options for getting your FICO score for free.
- A Roth IRA (retirement account) in your name. Even if you’re not the one with the paycheck, the IRS allows the non-earning spouse their own account through the earning spouse. It’s called a spousal account and, again, it’s only in your name and belongs to you. If you are earning a little something on the side that generates a W-2 at year end, you may open a Roth on your own. There are too many great things to mention about a Roth account in this post. Head over to Roth IRA: The Rockstar of Retirement for the full scoop.
Read my full story: How to Tell if You’re Married to a Money Controller
Here’s Part of My Story
I realize that this post sounds like a tough love message — and it is. I’ll tell you why. I don’t want other stay-at-home moms/spouses to go through what I did for 20 years. In my previous marriage, I was discouraged from knowing anything about our finances.
Never once did I pay a bill, scour our bank account statements, or open a credit card, and I take full responsibility for that. I was young, busy, and naive. This resulted in financial disaster, but I eventually got out of that situation and determined to always be involved with my finances from that time forward.
One of the best things I did for myself was to get educated in financial matters and topics of all kinds. I read many, many books and I still take online courses from time to time. Khan Academy offers free courses online in almost any subject, including finance and economics.
My all-time favorite resource has been Suze Orman’s book Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny. I admire her non-judgemental approach and passion for teaching financial wisdom on a basic level. Her enthusiasm and expertise motivated me to continue learning the ropes of finance and gave me a serious interest in investing.
It’s never too late to become an expert on something that fascinates you. We’re more than moms, and that’s always a good thing to remember.