Do you have a Plan B?

I imagine that a few of my regular readers are going to write back after reading and tell me what a Debbie Downer this post is and how they will never ever deal with anything that I am about to describe. To you I say goodie gumdrops and come back another day; as for me I have always been a realist and I firmly believe that shit happens. Shit not only happens it happens when you least expect it, so always have at least a Plan B and possibly a Plan C.

Ladies, we all like to believe that not only will we find Mr. or Mrs. Right; but that once we find our soul mate and partner that we will be happy until one of us checks out of Planet Earth. It’s a lovely thought but in America if you are a heterosexual married couple, the odds are you will probably divorce far sooner than one of you passes on.

I have written before about how in the past several years I have watched several good friends go through divorces and in all but one situation the women were on the losing end of the stick when it came to money. It’s no coincidence that the only one that didn’t get totally fucked was also the only one who had not been a SAHM (stay at home Mom), ladies I have to say it once and for all staying at home with the kids as a full time choice with no plan to ever work for cash is a bad idea.

Look, when you are in love and happy you are playing on the same team yet the moment you decide to end the relationship especially if you decide to end it…guess what? You are not friends, it’s a dog eat dog world. I have seen in most cases (there is a current exception) most of these loving Dad’s get real tight with the money and even those who willingly pay their child support its still a shock for Mom. Why? In many cases child support is not going to cover the entire cost of taking care of the child because the courts figure both parents will be providing and that includes providing money. Sure you can get a job but the reality is for most women, even highly intelligent and amazing women, if you haven’t worked in a number of years the odds that you will step back into the world of paying work and earn enough to support yourself and your share of financial support for the kids is really quite slim. It was already slim before the economic downturn and now it’s virtually impossible.

Many women and I have some in my life currently dealing with this instead end up jumping into new relationships also known as the rebound because well, having a man around can be useful from an economic point of view. I know…in perfect world no woman would ever get together with a new guy and think money train. Ideally not, but it happens. Or else I have seen some amazing women have to resort to public assistance which sadly does not offer enough to actually live off of; it’s a fucked up existence. I have a friend who gets less than $20 a month for food stamps for her and her kid because the powers to be consider her child support adequate. It’s a good thing this Mama lives in subsidized housing or else she and her child would be homeless. I have known her 3 years now and she has been looking for work about that long, its rough out there ladies.

Just today it was announced Al and Tipper Gore are splitting after 40 years of marriage. Think about that, 40 fucking years and they decide to part ways. So if you think it can’t happen to you think again. People change, shit happens and ladies a good Plan B is a great thing. Am I saying have a secret bank account? No, but it is nice to have something in your name and I don’t mean being an authorized user on an account. A dear friend of mine learned that after 14 years of marriage she had no credit, see her hubby had handled the cash and while she had a hand in paying bills it turned out everything was in his name. In the end when the divorce was finalized she actually ended up having to sell the car he bought her, this woman had been a loving and devoted wife and SAHM. Turns out had she had a card or two in her name and maybe a little cash of her own, her post married life would have been a lot easier. Thankfully she is establishing her own credit life but it took having her Mom co-sign at 35 to get her a car. This is a woman who I remember telling me her job was her kids and hubby, those kids are still her job but now she hustles nights working to keep bread on the table since Papa’s child support doesn’t even pay her rent.

Upon divorcing women are often thrust into poverty, this is a proven fact not the ranting of a woman with an axe to grind. I am also not saying you must abandon your kids to daycare 40+ hours a week in order to have a Plan B but the reality is as the kids get older it is possible to do something that allows you to earn cash, create your own business, etc. Just do something! The thing is especially for women of a certain age, it’s not always about your honey and you parting ways. People get sick and savings get depleted and your honey can die. This happened to my Grandmother, she was not a SAHM in fact she and my grandfather were solidly middle class, they did all they were supposed to, to prepare for retirement. Unfortunately my Gramps was diagnosed with brain cancer in his 50’s and despite what the insurance did cover there was a lot they did not cover. In the end he died and my Grandma had her life savings wiped out, all she had after his death was the house, thankfully she was able to hold onto that after losing him and all their savings. Thanks to the fact she had been working she was able to maintain her lifestyle granted it was far more scaled back but unlike some she was able to provide for herself until she retired. Also because she lived longer than my Grandpa and had worked she was able to draw her own Social Security benefits that paid more than my Grandfather’s benefits. (Note: if you don’t work you are not earning Social Security benefits, granted it probably won’t exist when we retire but still, the world of paid work allows you to theoretically earn something towards your retirement)

I have seen one too many older women lose a partner too early and be plunged into complete poverty after his death. I actually met a dear friend this way; she was renting out rooms in her apartment to survive. She had outlived her husband there was not adequate insurance to provide for her needs so she lived a good 20+ years after he passed away but she spent them in poverty.

Ladies, have a Plan B, if nothing else for your own piece of mind. Love is grand but shit also happens and I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be holding that bag.