My husband is 16 years older than me and, two years after our marriage, I discovered that he was five years older than his official age. At the same time, we found out I was pregnant with our first child.
He explained that there was some controversy about his date of birth as he was born at home in the Philippines. There was a fire and he lost his parents at a very young age. I found it hard to believe at that time, but we have a good relationship and — other than that — things were okay.
Moreover, we were expecting our first child, so I let it go. I have very little financial education and have always trusted him to handle our finances while I worked hard. We have three kids together, ages 5 to 10 and my husband had a daughter from a previous marriage who is now 20 years old. His daughter lives with her mother, but visits.
I now have trust issues. I requested a separate bank account for myself as I continue to contribute to our present joint account. I would like to have savings and make investments for myself and my children. I love my family, but I want to look out for my children.
I come from a very poor background and have no education in finances. I am a very hard worker and will like to start saving and working smart since I am not getting any younger. I will be 40 years old in two weeks.
‘I always had my husband handle our finances’
We have lived happily for the past 12 years and I always had my husband handle our finances. I work very hard and have rapidly made a lot of money. I earn three times what my husband makes, but have had no issues until recently.
My sister-in law suddenly lost her husband who was the bread winner of their family a few years ago and my husband invited her from the Philippines to live with us until she can get financial stability. She came with two of her younger kids ages 18 and 22 and had plans to relocate her other four children too. I refused. She was not happy.
My husband and I arranged an apartment for her and her kids. She was not happy about that as she would rather live in our house. She no longer talks with me. From time to time talk, she does talk to her brother (my husband), who is her only sibling. He continues to help support her financially. He also supports our 20-year-old daughter.
In the midst of all these recent developments, a 22-year-old single mother claimed my husband is her father. He denied this, but has refused to take a paternity test. He did admit that he had an affair with a fellow student.
I have doubts about what else I will have to deal with in our marriage. He remains a good father to our children and a good husband except for his past mistakes. Moving forward, I have asked for some changes with our financial situation which my husband did not like at all.
Rattled wife and mother
I don’t want to tell you what you should do with your money. There are, however, many things you could do.
You could invest in an S&P 500 index fund, seek the help of a financial adviser who will tailor a plan specific to your age and needs and/or set up a 529 tax-advantaged plan for your children’s college funds. Max out your 401(k) or (403(b) employer-sponsored retirement accounts. Financial advisers recommend putting aside between 8% and 15% of your salary in your 40s.
You have 20 years of earning potential left. Make it work for you. Continue to focus on your job and seek out new opportunities. Many people reach a plateau earnings-wise after the age of 45, according to an analysis of 200 million Social Security records over nearly four decades by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. You want to make sure you’re happy with yours.
Big lies rarely exist in isolation. If there’s one, there’s often another, and another. As I read your letter, I grew increasingly concerned that we were moving from the age-related lie to the paternity test that he refuses to take to a larger financial scandal. And we never got there. Why? Because you are taking preventative action. You have enough information. Now you are ready to act upon it.
You have been patient with your husband. He doesn’t like your plans because he knows you have trust issues. Tell him that you want to invest your money for your children’s future and give yourself financial peace of mind. You’ve earned that right with your first paycheck 20 years ago. It may take some time for him to get used to this new arrangement. That’s not your problem. It’s his.
You don’t need to ask his permission. After, call a lawyer and tell him or her exactly what you told me. Today, you want separate bank accounts. Tomorrow, you may want separate lives.
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