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Why I Need Money in My Own Name to Feel Safe

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Money in My Own Name to Feel SafeLast week on Twitter I said that women need to have their own money and credit cards in their name only. Lots of people were telling me that in the event of divorce assets would be split in half regardless of which name was on the account. That is unfortunate but not unsolvable. A prenup/postnup could be put in place to keep assets secure. But that wasn’t what I was talking about. I believe that women should have their own money so they are able to feel safe and have money that no one else can access should she need to leave the relationship quickly.

Why I Need Money in My Own Name to Feel Safe

Scott and I have an emergency fund. We each have half the amount in accounts that only the individual account holder can touch. Since our emergency account is to be used in the case of death, job loss or disability each having access to money in our names only makes sense. Since we have a joint account if something were to happen to one of us I’m not sure if the bank would freeze the account. We have bills and the bank doesn’t care about our life issues. They just want their money. This emergency fund gives me peace of mind that I could make it through some type of negative life event.

But over time this account also developed another purpose.

It’s my escape money.

My marriage is fine. It’s not that I don’t want my marriage to work. It’s currently working quite well. We work hard at it and try to communicate and be open about what is going on in our relationship. But that doesn’t change the fact that things could change in a second and if I needed to leave (with a baby now) I want the money in my name only to do so. And of course, I can speak about this openly with Scott. This post isn’t going to be a surprise to him.

Money/Credit Together:

We have joint chequing and savings accounts and have both names on the mortgage. Things are pretty transparent in our house. I know what he spends his money on and he knows what I spend mine on (Starbucks). We decide everything together for big purchases and give ourselves allowances to spend how we want to. We get the same amount of money to invest regardless of whose income is what at the moment so our retirement accounts have similar balances in them as well.

Money/Credit Separate:

Emergency funds and credit cards are separate. Always have and always will be.  Let’s say I need to get out of the house. The fact is that he could wipe out our accounts and that would leave me stranded.  If I were to use a joint credit card to check into a hotel he could easily find out where I was by calling the company and pretending the card is lost. If things are that bad and I need to leave I don’t want anyone to know where I am. One of the ways someone can financially abuse you is is destroying your credit score. Meaning you won’t be able to get a place on your own leaving you with limited options for living away from your partner.

Sarah, this is ridiculous. I don’t need to have separate money from my partner. We are a team.

I know your relationship is rock solid. And it might always be but it might not always be either. I don’t keep money in my own name because I think there is anything wrong. It is just there to keep me secure.

Why isn’t all the money separate?

Because at this point it doesn’t need to be. Things are very transparent with how we spend money and bank accounts get updated on the regular very open way. Basically if money were to go missing I would see it. But then I would still have my money and be able to do whatever it is I need to do to get out. I also work in a company that has direct deposit so if I were to see something fishy I could open a new account in a second and transfer some or all my pay to a new account.

Paranoid much?

Honestly, no. Money = options and I want to make sure I keep all of them open. Having money in case something goes wrong is not a bad thing. I hope to never use it like car or house insurance. But it is still there protecting me just in case.

Don’t Be A Frog:

Have you ever heard the one about the frog? You see if you throw a frog in hot water it jumps out right away since it knows it’s in hot water. But if you throw it in cold water and turn the heat up it doesn’t realize until it’s too late that it’s being boiled. Sometimes it can take a while to realize you are in a dangerous situation. Without money you likely won’t be able to jump out of the pot before it’s too late.

Last week Veronika from Debts to Riches wrote a great post called Everyone Needs A Fuck Off Fund: The Relationship Edition It is worth a read to hear other stories were separate money has come in handy. This article from The Financial Diet that I read recently stuck the point home for me (if I wasn’t already convinced).

If you need more resources if you are experiencing abuse please check out Ending Violence (Canada), National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (US) or The Hotline (US). If you are in immediate danger call 9-1-1 or your location emergency number.

What do you think? Do you have money in your own name? This is an important topic so let’s talk it out in the comment section.

Sarah

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

8 comments

  1. Penny says:

    We both have some cash and we have separate credit cards. Why we don’t worry about having a ton of money separate from each other is that we both have people. I think having an out or an escape plan is so important (be it money or people or both). For people who are geographically distant from family and friends, I would argue they need more money. We could both very easily escape to our families or friends within a matter of minutes.

    What hasn’t sat well with me since last week is the fact that we do have a child now. The thought of one of us being able to walk away with cash or credit cards AND a kid complicates this in ways that are probably worth a post rather than a comment 🙂

    • Couple of Sense says:

      Agree. Being close to family makes it easier. I am much closer to mine than Scott is to his.
      As for the baby, it’s tough. It is MUCH more complicated than even just being married. I look forward to hearing your take.
      Sarah

  2. Casey says:

    I’ll add another reason to keep some separate. If there is a death, one partner needs access to cash NOW. Even with marriage rights, sometimes banks will close accounts (credit and liquid savings/checking) first and ask questions later. This gives safety and security to BOTH partners. Separate credit is so both have good credit scores and won’t take as big a hit if there were a death or divorce.

    • Couple of Sense says:

      Agree. As I mentioned this was the first reason we separated the money. In case they froze our joint account.
      Sarah

  3. Financial abuse is a serious facet of domestic abuse, but it’s not as well documented or understood as emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and the like. Domesticshelters.org has a great list of questions to help individuals determine if they are experiencing financial abuse:
    https://www.domesticshelters.org/domestic-violence-articles-information/are-you-the-victim-of-financial-abuse

    I am pretty fierce about this issue, since money confers both power and choices, and we tend to ignore how that can be abused in personal relationships. Every individual, no matter their gender, should have money in their own name.

    • Couple of Sense says:

      Thank you for sharing the link Emily. I agree that is it not widely documented and people do not know they are experiencing it until often it is too late. Money and available credit in your own name regardless of gender is important.
      Sarah

  4. Whymances says:

    Managing finances as a couple is a very personal choice, but I’m with you on each having at least some money in a separate account. Chances are if your relationship goes south, partners usually don’t dip so low as to screw you financially. Of course, sometimes it does happen. And the person isn’t expecting it. Emotional situations bring out unexpected ugly sides.

    So that’s why it’s important. Just in case.

    • Couple of Sense says:

      Unfortunately it is common to have partners hide assets or withdrawn money. As you said emotional situations do bring out ugly sides. I have seen it several times where even couples who have been married long term have done not so fair things with the money.
      Sarah

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