Saturday, June 12, 2010

10 Things to Do Now...In Case Your Husband Leaves You

It's been a sad few months for a couple of friends who are in the middle of getting divorced. Besides being emotionally devastated, they are basically financially devastated as well. Here's some stuff I learned from them as well as from a handful of women I know whose husbands died suddenly, ended up in a coma/in the trauma center for months, lost their jobs (when the husband was the sole breadwinner), and otherwise went off the rails leaving the women to basically fend for themselves.
p.s. Obviously these tips work just as much for men as for women, I just thought the title was catchy.
  1. Have your own emergency fund with a minimum of $2000 in it. Not your family emergency fund, not the "my husband has plenty of money" emergency fund, not the "I have plenty of credit cards" emergency fund. You want $2000 CASH in a secure bank account that you can easily access.

  2. Have all of your important documents in a secure place where you can easily access them. These documents include drivers license, passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree, death certificate, mortgage deed of trust, car titles...basically all of the official documents available for your immediate family.

  3. Have an education. There are quite a few women that will get a high school diploma and stop their education. They will ensure their husbands get through college, they will focus all of their attention on their children's education, but they put off completing their own education and then when they end up on their own and could really use these credentials, they don't have them. Get at least a bachelor's degree even if it means you take one class per quarter for ten year. Of course, you will want to cash-flow your education and not take out student loans.

  4. Have some money-earning skills. Whether you dabble in website design or resell stuff on Craigslist, having the ability to earn money is vital to your continued well being whether or not your income is needed to support the family.

  5. Have a network of friends. Many times women get so focused on their husbands and kids that they let their friendships lapse because they don't have the time or energy to sustain them. When all Hell breaks loose, you will be thankful for the support of your good friends.

  6. Be debt free. If you end up on your own, you don't want to also be bogged down by a pile of debts that need to be paid each month. Your monthly bills should be minimal (cell phone, utilities, etc) and your consumer debt should be zero.

  7. Insist that your spouse if debt free as well. If something happens to your spouse, you could be left with all of his debts (this happened to one of my friends. When her husband died suddenly, instead of having time to grieve his death, she was immediately barraged by debt collectors). This is also important if you get divorced--your spouse can be given the debts by the court but that doesn't mean he will pay them and the debt collectors will come after YOU.

  8. Live in a reasonably-sized house. You don't need a McMansion to have a nice home. Having a house that one income can easily support is really important in the event that YOUR income ends up being the one paying for your home and utilities.

  9. Know how much your spouse makes, how much the monthly bills are, how the family money is invested, the information for all bank accounts, what kinds of insurance policies your family has, know what each line of your last tax return means, what pensions/retirement plans your husband has, what kind of health insurance you have, and, most importantly, have all of this information written down somewhere in case you end up paying the bills if a spouse suddenly dies or your divorce attorney needs a place to start looking for assets.

  10. Learn how to do everything your husband does even if it seems confusing, boring, or icky. Your husband may not always be around to fix the plumbing, mow the yard, do your annual taxes, or DVR your favorite shows. The more you know how to do, the better off you will be in the end.

Hopefully your marriage lasts forever and you are able to grow old with a loving spouse but that doesn't always happen. More often than not, when a marriage ends either by divorce of death, the spouse that is left behind ends up grieving the end of the relationship while at the same time trying to deal with creditors, messed up plumbing, paying bills, raising the kids, and the multitude of other things that before took two people to accomplish.

1 comment:

  1. If you want a secure financial support in the future, make sure that his company left him with required benefits.