As you probably already know, I focus my professional organizing business on residential organizing and helping busy moms and women with home-based businesses.
I not only physically declutter their homes but, often times, work with them to organize their paperwork. As a rule, I always ask them questions about various aspects of paper management, including financials. Usually we are creating a new filing system that reflects their specific needs, which requires me to ask about various aspects of their financial picture.
Quite often I meet with women who are unable to answer some of my questions when it comes to the household finances. Some do not know what bank accounts exist, if they have a life insurance policy, if they have an investment portfolio or what company holds their mortgage. I met with someone recently who could not even tell me if their house had been paid off.
Often I meet women who never get involved with their own marital financial assets. They don't pay the bills, ask about retirement, look at credit card statements, inquire about investments or bank accounts, and they let their spouses handle all financial matters.
It is hard for me to imagine that women are so trusting of their spouses that they simply let them handle everything without knowing what is going on. I find it frightening.
When I was 36 years old, my husband passed away, leaving me to raise my 6-1/2 year old son. I was immediately able to jump in and handle all of the finances and was able to quickly transfer utilities, investments, bank accounts, the deed to our home and other financial aspects to myself. Why? Because I knew where everything was located and what we had.
Ladies, as someone who has had personal, first hand experience with the sudden loss of a spouse, I ask you to please be informed. Whether because of death or divorce or even incapacity of your spouse, you need to always know what is going on. There is no problem with your spouse handling it all, but there is a problem with you not being informed!
Take time to look at bank statements, credit card bills, mortgage statements, meet with your financial advisor, ask questions and sit down with your spouse so that you can talk about all aspects of your financial picture. Be sure you know what your credit score is. Establish your own credit by opening a major credit card in your name only, if you have not done so already.
Continue the conversation from time to time with your spouse so you are always aware of your particular situation.
I cannot stress enough how passionate I am about making sure that we, as women, are knowledgeable about these matters. We cannot solely depend upon our spouses to handle it all and keep ourselves in the dark. Don't let another day go by without having the conversation. You have a right to know, so take the steps necessary. Knowledge is so empowering!