What Married Women Should Know About Financial Independence
Married women—particularly those with young children—are statistically more likely than other demographic groups to leave the workforce after marriage.1 Even for women who stay in the workforce, remaining financially independent after marriage might be challenging.
What should women know when it comes to creating and maintaining financial independence?
Financial independence is an important goal regardless of your age, partnership status or stage of life. It allows you to remain self-reliant and prevents you from being controlled by others. And even if you have not always approached your marriage or partnership with financial independence in mind, it is never too late to start.
Five Steps Toward Financial Independence
Financial independence is a lifelong process. To get started, consider the following five steps:
1. Have an Honest Conversation With Your Spouse
Would you like more input into your household’s spending decisions? Do you want to move from a joint account to separate ones? Do you want to create an atmosphere where you and your spouse feel free to raise money questions and concerns?
If the answer to these questions is “yes,” it is time for a straightforward and honest conversation about your household finances and financial planning. You may learn things about your spouse and their approach to money that you do not know. You may even learn something about yourself. By facing any fears you may have about discussing money, you may approach these tough topics in a way that puts you and your partner on the same team.
2. Create Joint Saving and Spending Goals
Another part of being on the same team involves having goals in common. Even if you and your spouse do not always agree on spending decisions, discussing and working toward common goals may give you both ownership and agency.
Compromise is key. Regardless of gender, you do not want one spouse’s opinions or desires always subordinated. Nevertheless, being able to compromise a little on less important issues may give you more room to negotiate about what matters.
3. Consider a Prenuptial (or Postnuptial) Agreement
If you and your partner are not yet legally married, one way to maintain financial independence after marriage is by executing a prenuptial agreement before the wedding. These agreements may preemptively divide or manage assets in the event of a later divorce and outline other ways to manage assets. For example, a prenup may waive one or both partners’ ability to receive alimony or specify that one spouse’s inheritance is not marital property.
Even if you are already married, it is not too late to take steps toward your independence legally. As the name implies, a “postnup” agreement happens after marriage. It may cover many of the same issues as a prenup. Because prenup and postnup laws vary widely from state to state, it is important to talk to a competent attorney licensed in your state before pursuing this type of legal agreement.
4. Have Your Own Bank and Retirement Accounts
Even if you and your spouse have a joint account to pay household bills and other shared expenses, it is also important to have your own bank account and your own retirement accounts. This structure may provide you with a safety net if, for whatever reason, you lose access to your joint accounts.
5. Co-own Property
If you and your spouse own property together, such as real estate, boats, vehicles or other assets, it is important to have your name on the title. If you are not on the title for a property, your claim to legal ownership is significantly weaker. Your spouse may be able to sell the property or take out loans on the asset without your permission or even your knowledge.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.
All information is believed to be from a reliable source; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.
This article was prepared by WriterAccess.
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