A woman's guide to money matters


When looking for financial advice, particularly from a woman’s point of view, the place to start is with Suze Orman. In 2007 she wrote an article for The Oprah Magazine which was a good distillation of the ideas published in her many books. These tips are meant to empower women and protect them through the various phases of their lives.

Every woman needs her own money.

In addition to a shared checking account with her partner, it is important to have an individual savings account. Even if you’re not working, the income provided by your spouse is “household income”. Some portion of that should be yours alone. In a marriage, this is a particularly important step for maintaining a sense of independence.

Have one credit card in your name only.

In the case of divorce, or if you should become widowed, this source of independent credit is absolutely necessary to functioning in the world. The card will contribute to your credit history and enable you to get a loan or open other accounts in your name.

Debts prior to marriage are yours alone.

And vice versa. Don’t rush to combine debt. Get a feel for how you can budget effectively to pay down any pre-marriage debt from either side of the aisle.

Before marriage, think long and hard about how to share (or not) any assets you bring to the table.

If that lakehouse cabin has been in your family for generations, you may not feel like your spouse should share ownership of it. And that should be ok. Family treasures need to be honored and that should be understood. If and when you decide to share ownership should be something you give serious consideration. Be sure too that any assets you have from a first marriage that should go to the children of that marriage be protected. The law often doesn’t care about lines of succession and defaults all assets to the surviving spouse. Consult an estate attorney if this is something you are concerned about.

After you marry, any asset (or debt) acquired during the marriage is shared.

Before getting married, make sure you are on the same page with long term goals and financial priorities. Does your guy believe in only paying minimums while you believe in paying it off each month? This could be a problem. Know what the partnership is going to be like before getting into it. Respect each other enough to discuss this openly and how you will handle any conflicts.


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