How Women can Control Their Family's Finances
My husband does not know how much money we have. Can you believe that he hasn't paid one household bill in the past 19 years? When we met, he was very savvy with his money, which attracted me to him. We both were excellent money managers, and at the time, we were both in the U.S. Army. One year later, we were married, and two months later, he went to Iraq while I stayed home with my son and soon-to-be-born daughter. Needless to say, I was glad I didn't have to go back to Iraq.
He Left Me With The Money
With him going on his second deployment to Iraq, I managed the household and the bills. We combined our financial resources but also maintained separate accounts. I had to set some boundaries, right? At 22 years old, this was my first time managing a household and paying bills, but I knew I could do it. I set up automatic bill pay, budgeted our funds using an Excel spreadsheet, and set up a joint savings account.
I Made One Mistake
Okay, so no one's perfect. We searched for a desk online, and I was trying to find the best deal. Picture this, a solid mahogany wood desk with drawers for only $500. We were on a budget as newlyweds, and we thought it was a great deal until it wasn't. I purchased the desk and mistakenly used a debit card instead of a credit card to make the purchase. When the desk didn't show up, we were out $500 because it was a scam website. He questioned why I didn't use the credit card instead. If I had, we would have recouped the majority of our funds. Beware!
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He Returned Home
When he returned from Iraq, he asked me if I wanted him to take over the bills. I said no, I got it, and the rest is history. While he was away, we relocated to a new duty station, and I purchased our new home, managed the closing process, and bought much-needed furniture. I continued to pay the bills and save money. I left the military in 2008. When he retired from the military, we had enough money to purchase land and build our final family home.
What Happened To The Money
We've always had conversations about money and continue to have them semi-annually to reassess our finances. After our move, we had a 30-year mortgage, two vehicles, and his retirement boat that he had to have. I managed the repayment process for all of these and the furniture for the new house. We paid off all of these items in 8 1/2 years by doubling down on our payments. After one thing was paid off, I would add that payment to another debt and continue until all of the money was going towards an additional principal-only payment for the mortgage.
See my feature in Veterans Build Debt-Free Life After the Military.
We have achieved financial independence! But, he still doesn't know how much money we have. I have money in different investment accounts, savings accounts, and even my separate savings account. Ladies, keep a separate savings account at all times. Also, every time we get a pay increase, we save a portion of the money in our retirement and savings accounts. Now, we're able to plan for and pay cash for our vacations, invest in our future, and not have to worry about the threat of a job loss.
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Will He Ever Know Where The Money Is?
I doubt it, and he doesn't really mind, either. He has confidence that I managed our money well, filed our taxes annually, and no one has come knocking at the door to repossess anything. As long as we can go on our vacations, I think he's happily semi-retired.
Originally published at https://www.harriscashcoach.com on May 22, 2022.