History has shown us that women have had to struggle to obtain an equal footing in almost all areas of finance. And even though we have made progress in many areas, gender roles are still happily at play when it comes to paying household bills. A 2014 study by Nerd Wallet found that approximately 36% of men pay 100% of the household bills versus 14% of women. A little more than one-third of couples split bills.If these statistics hold true for the vast majority of couples, what does that mean for you financially when you move from being
If these statistics hold true for the vast majority of couples, what does that mean for you financially when you move from being married to single?
1. Account for your Accounts:
All the little things add up over time when you are married. You sign up together for a gym membership, Netflix, Amazon Prime and many other services that are auto-debited from your account. That is in addition to your basic bills, savings, and checking. As a first step in transitioning to single-hood know which accounts you have in your own name and which are held jointly.
List out which items you pay for and where your money is deposited. This includes the credit union, bank, savings, credit card, insurance premium payments and rotating credit lines. While you are going through your list, find out who is an authorized user of your accounts. Even though your ex’s name isn’t on the account, they could potentially have access as an authorized user.
2. The Big B Word (Budget):
For some couples, one of the major benefits of being married can be having shared expenses. Whether you split items down the middle or each of you contributes to each household expense, you can usually rely on your spouse to help out financially. When you are solely responsible for all finances knowing where and when your money is being spent becomes a must for your financial well-being. Studies have shown us that women often don’t save enough in their emergency reserve and retirement accounts.
Curious as to why? It’s for simpler reasons than you may expect such as finding areas to cut back in order to save more and lacking the discipline to save. Finding a tool to budget is really an exercise in trial and error. Work with an advisor or do research on your own to find the best system that makes this process less painful.
Baby steps are fine.
3. Credit Time:
Although there is no such thing as a "joint credit report", if you ever applied jointly for credit for a mortgage, credit cards or a line of credit, it will show up on both of your reports and can affect both of your scores. In your transition to being single, pull your own credit score so you know where you stand. Educate yourself on how your score is affected by credit balances and your payment history. Women usually carry more credit card debt than men and studies have attributed it to the persistent wage gap that women face. Usually, women have to charge necessities when their paycheck doesn’t cover those expenses. If you feel overwhelmed by your credit or understanding how it works, seek out a financial partner to help you.
Finances can be scary, especially when all the responsibility is yours alone but seeking out learning experiences and getting comfortable in handling your own accounts, budget and credit is empowering and rewarding. As Elizabeth Warren once stated, “Balancing your own money is the key to having enough”