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Women have come a long way when it comes to finances. It wasn’t really that long ago that everything a woman “owned” was in her husband’s name. Even single women had a difficult time establishing credit without the presence of a man just a few decades ago.

Banks could refuse women a credit card until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 was signed into law. Prior to that, a bank could refuse to issue a credit card to an unmarried woman, and if a woman was married, her husband was required to cosign.

Many banks required single, divorced or widowed women to bring a man with them to cosign for a credit card, according to CNN, and some discounted the wages of women by as much as 50% when calculating their credit card limits, according to an article from Smithsonian Magazine. (Source)

But while we’ve made strides when it comes to money, it’s important that we don’t become complacent – especially when it comes to blending relationships and finances.

Should You Mix Your Money?

Of course, no one wants to think about the end of the relationship at the beginning – and maybe it won’t happen! But I’ve never had a client who has regretted being prepared.

Establish Your Own Credit

You need credit to do just about anything financial and a credit card is the easiest way to establish it. Even if you don’t really use the credit card, it’s important to have it in your own name. Some wives think they have credit because they share a card with their husband. That’s not the case. They’re likely listed as an “authorized user” which is not the same thing.

Be Prepared for the Unthinkable.

Unfortunately, situations can change dramatically and quickly. An unexpected divorce or death could put you in a position of needing your own accounts and not a lot of time to build a credit history.

It Just Might Make You Feel Better

One of the biggest fights couples have is over money. I have found that some of this can be eliminated by each person having some of their own money to spend each month, no questions asked. An amount needs to be agreed upon ahead of time, but each spouse has their own account with spending money in it. It can be very disempowering to have to run every single financial decision by your husband.

How Can You Establish Credit with No Income?

It might surprise you to know that there are very intelligent women out there who are money savvy…and have no credit established in their name. That’s because it’s not as easy as it used to be to get started.

If you’ve been the caretake of your family for years, you might fall into that category. Here’s what I suggest:

Final Thoughts on This

Whether or not to have joint accounts is really up to the individual couple, but either way it’s important to communicate and come to a mutual agreement at the very beginning about how to combine assets and how finances will be handled.

However, as a professional in the financial industry, I’ve never met a woman who has said, “Gee, I wish I hadn’t kept some of my own accounts.” But many women wish they hadn’t combined everything.

No matter what, it’s important that you establish some financial control in your own name, even if you’re happily together for 70 years. Doing this will not only make you feel more prepared, it might also strengthen your relationship.

Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Whether you like it or not, your credit score can determine how easy or how difficult it is to buy a car, buy a house, get cell phone service, or even get a job.  A bad credit score can negatively impact just about every area of your life. Sometimes, a bad credit score can result from events entirely out of your control such as illness, disability, or from the loss of a job. Other times a poor credit score results from poor decisions, such as late or missed payments or overuse of credit cards.  But there are ways to help you get back on track and raise your credit score.  Here are a few:

  1. Pay your bills on time.  Sounds simple but there are a lot of people who simply forget to pay their bills before they’re due. Unfortunately, there are repercussions for those that consistently forget. Consistency matters.
  2. If you can’t pay your bills on time, contact the creditor. Forgetfulness aside, there may be times when you can’t pay your bills on time. If that does happen, contact your creditors immediately and let them know. It may not always prevent them from reporting the late payment, but many creditors would rather work with you than report you.
  3. Try to pay down any outstanding debt. Even if you have been making payments on time, credit bureaus don’t look kindly on a large amount of debt. That means paying down balances and keeping them low.
  4. Only use your credit card if you can pay off the balance at month end. While credit bureaus want you to have credit, they also want you to keep your balances low.
  5. Try not to apply for multiple credit cards or other lines of credit in a short period of time. Each time you apply for credit, a hard inquiry is placed on your credit report. If that is done multiple times over a short period of time, your score will drop.
  6. Don’t close your credit card accounts. Even if you don’t use them, keep them open. The available balance will help your debt to ratio percentage, keeping your score higher. Conversely, if you close an account, your credit score is likely to drop.
  7. Review your credit report periodically. This is probably one of the most important things you can do. Like any of us, credit bureaus can make errors, but you won’t know about them unless you review your report regularly. If you do find an error, all three credit bureaus give you the opportunity to dispute the amount. Don’t wait until you’re turned down for credit to look at your report. Do it now.
  8. Try to avoid filing for bankruptcy if at all possible. A bankruptcy filing will stay on your credit report for up to ten years. Keep in mind that chronically late payments on your report aren’t any better than a bankruptcy filing, so if you have to file, just be aware of the impact it will have.

Remember, your credit score will follow you throughout life. Do your best to maintain it properly.

*This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. Individuals involved in the estate planning process should work with an estate planning team, including their own personal legal or tax counsel. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a representation by us of a specific investment or the purchase or sale of any securities. Asset allocation and diversification do not ensure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets. This material was developed and produced by Advisor Websites to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. Copyright 2014-2019 Advisor Websites.

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