Financial safety is an important part of personal safety for women. Follow this two-step plan to keep yourself safe.
Hello, My DIVAs! Today I want to talk about money. Specifically, I want to talk about the ways you can help make yourself safer by being smart about your money. Whether you are single, married, or in a committed relationship; whether you work in the home or are employed elsewhere; whether you have children or not, your personal financial plan is one of the most important elements of keeping yourself safe because it gives you a fallback when the unexpected happens and takes care of you when you can no longer work.
First, I am a relationship adviser, not a financial adviser, so this is a general outline, and you should find a financial planner you trust, and work with them to make and meet your own goals. There are also some links to articles with more specifics at the bottom of the page.
Now listen, this advice is for everyone. I don’t care if you are the CEO of a hi-tech company or a convenience store clerk/waitress living paycheck to paycheck on two jobs, you need to make these financial safety measures part of your plan. This is all about being able to live comfortably by your own means at least some day, if not yet today, and then for keeping yourself safe from predators who want your money.
First, you need a good, workable plan for your money. Again, it doesn’t matter how much you earn, you must remember that in addition to your immediate needs, you are always working for your future self.
Financial Goals for Smart Women
- Stay Out of Debt
Whenever possible, don’t buy it if you don’t have the cash. That credit card debt can become a burden very quickly, and you may get an awesome new-to-you car for a great deal on the pre-owned side of the lot, saving a lot on that car loan. When you do have to go into debt, focus on paying it down as quickly as possible. The real key to getting ahead is not getting behind.
- Keep Your Credit Score High
A low credit score just drags you down and makes your life much more difficult than it needs to be. Many employers check your score because bad credit is seen as a sign of irresponsibility. Landlords check too, as do utility and telecommunications companies, and if your credit looks risky, they may decline you or ask for a bigger deposit. Of course, anyone you want to borrow money from, including mortgage and business loan companies are going to either decline to loan you money when you need it or they will charge you a higher interest rate. Keep the credit clean.
- Save Money
This sounds like the most simple thing, but trust me, I know it’s not. For most people, finding that extra room in the budget to stash money away is really hard and takes serious discipline. But you’ve got this, my DIVAs. No matter what your income is, make saving a priority. There are lots of great ideas for ways to make saving easy, with a little research you can find one that works for you. Just remember, you are investing in your future self and building security for that time of crisis when you need it most.
- Contribute to a Retirement Account
Take advantage of whatever retirement benefits your employer may offer, and if you don’t get that benefit, work with a financial adviser to get your own retirement account started. Start early with your first job and never stop. Every. Little. Bit. Counts. You don’t want to have to work until you’re 80, do you?
- Carry Life Insurance
If you have a spouse and/or children, this is a must. Your financial adviser can help you choose the best policy for your situation. Even if you are a single woman, carry enough insurance to pay off any debt you have and pay for a funeral so that your family doesn’t have to. Maybe you have a dear friend who could benefit from an unexpected windfall should the unthinkable happen.
- Stay Out of Debt
Financial Safety for Women
The second part of this plan relates to a different kind of safety – safety from financial predators.
Financial predators come in many guises and include these basic types:
- Gold-diggers who figure they can love a rich woman as well as a poor one. They won’t be contributing to your bottom line, and they probably won’t stick around when the going gets tough.
- Leeches who never pay for anything themselves and have a million excuses for why they can’t work from needing time to finish their masterpiece to waiting for someone to recognize their brilliance. Ain’t gonna happen. He will just stick around until he’s bled you dry.
- Con-Men who aren’t quite who they say they are and will convince you to deposit money in some hinkey way or some other similar shenanigans. Don’t do anything with money because the guy you like asked you to. Talk to your financial adviser instead.
- Insurance Murderers. Yes, I’m serious. These are the people who sweep you off your feet, convince you to take out a big insurance policy on you or to sign over your pension to them, and then murder you. Variations on this theme have been going on forever – it happened to one of my great grandmothers, with ground glass as the murder weapon. Recent insurance murderers use more modern techniques, but they are still hard at work, and occasionally, they even get caught.
Can you see the red flags waving? If you are paying attention, you will spot them – just make sure you act on those warnings. If you find yourself entangled with one of these types, disconnect, break up, kick him out.
Sometimes, you don’t realize you are the victim of fraud until it is too late, so here are some ways to safeguard yourself until you get the alert that a financial predator is targeting you:
For Single Women
- Mum is the word! Stay quiet about your financial situation when you are talking to casual friends or someone you are dating. Your money is nobody else’s business.
- Don’t bring strangers or near-strangers into your home. Your home will tell them a lot about your financial situation, and if they are predators, they can find information to use against you.
- Keep your data safe. Use good passwords and change them often, buy online wisely, and purchase that anti-spy/mal/virus ware. Pay attention to all the transactions in all accounts and report any fraud immediately.
- Don’t keep all your accounts in one place under one account password. In case someone hacks your account, you don’t want to make taking all your money too easy. As you build your financial portfolio slowly, spread it out.
- Don’t agree to do any kind of money maneuvering for a guy you’re dating. No deposits in your account so he can hide something from the ex-wife, no wiring money here with a pledge to pay you back asap. None of that. Don’t do it for any Nigerian princes either, OK?
For Married Women
- Keep a separate, private bank account that you add to regularly. Remember the list of Financial Goals for Smart Women? Do those things, but keep some of it to yourself and separate from the accounts that your spouse has access to. Do it however you want – by skipping the Wednesday morning latte and stashing the cash or via a direct deposit out of your paycheck. I’m not saying that you should be deceitful, just that you need to have a separate, private stash of cash that only you can access.
- Don’t give your spouse control over any of your personal financial assets such as an annuity, or a pension. These things are YOUR nest egg in a world that is difficult for women on their own, and you never know what could happen. You may choose to give your spouse access in case of an emergency or make him the beneficiary in case of your death, but keep an eye on the accounts and place limits on withdrawals, etc. I have heard so many stories from ladies who married this great guy, gave them access to all their money so he could “take good care of” them, only to have him take off with all the money. I know a woman whose new husband conned her into signing over all her retirement accounts to him and then later cleaned out the bank account, maxed out the credit cards, and left her. Soon after, he died, and my client found that her pension had been willed to the now-deceased ex-husband’s daughter, that all the other money was spent, and that she was still liable for the credit card balances. She did eventually retrieve her pension after several years of legal action, but she never got any of the other problems fixed, and is still working long past retirement age.
- Do keep joint household accounts and do keep an eye on all investments, insurance, etc. that impact your life. You need to know exactly what your financial status is, as a couple, and you need to have access to these assets in case of an emergency or the death of your spouse. Too many women leave the finances completely up to their man and then don’t know how to take care of themselves when they need to.
- Do not become entirely financially dependent on anyone. This is one way of giving away your personal power. Even if your man is a wonderful, wealthy, generous soul, be sure that you have some means of taking care of yourself and your children, should the need arise. If you are in a rocky relationship or especially an abusive one or are married to a substance abuser, personal financial independence is critical to your survival. He cannot control you completely if you have the means to walk away when you’ve had enough.
As a relationship counselor, I see what happens to women who have either abdicated their financial responsibilities, at their peril, or didn’t believe they would ever have to take care of themselves after their husband left them for another woman.
Money makes the world go round, whether we like it or not, and smart women understand that careful money management is a key part of personal safety. We need to tend our financial gardens as carefully as we keep house and care for our children. It takes years of hard work to achieve a state of financial stability, so guard your money carefully, and be sure your love-colored glasses don’t fool you into giving it all away.
Feel like you need help with keeping yourself safe and smart in the dating and relationship world? Let me help you! I am a certified Relationship Counselor and I can help you navigate the process of finding love. Click here to learn more.
A Single Woman’s Guide to Managing Money at Every Age
Savvy Ladies, a non-profit dedicated to improving the financial well-being of all women. https://www.savvyladies.org/