Married Dopers: Do you have a "back up plan?"

On a mothering forum, we’re having a discussion about financial dependency and stay at home moms. There are some mothers in the forum who are shocked and amazed that some don’t have a back up plan or anyway to support themselves outside the marriage.

Is a SAHM putting herself and her kids in danger in the current environment? Is having a back up plan expressing a lack of faith in your marriage, or a smart strategy? I’m also interested in what men have to say. Do you have a back up plan? Money in your name only? Pre-nup, etc? One woman said she thought women put more faith in their marriages than men, and men generally always have plans. Or at least a rough skeleton of an idea of what actions they would take if they wanted to leave, whereas women just don’t think about it. She was of the opinion that women should make plans as well so as not to be at a disadvantage should a divorce occur.

What do you think?

42 year old married father who never considered any “back up plan” here.

Well apart from my immediately exercising the ability to wander around in my underpants and burp without saying, “Excuse me,” no.

Married male. My wife is a soon-to-be SAHM. I certainly have no back up plan, and I am quite confident that she doesn’t, either. We also have no strong prior reason to believe that she would be at a disadvantage in any divorce proceeding, especially not in NY state.

Married SAHM here. No backup plan per se, but I do have a profession I’m confident I can re-enter if I need to (and plan to once the kids are a bit older). I wouldn’t have decided to stay at home if I wasn’t confident that I could look after my kids if something happened to my husband. Divorce isn’t the only contingency you need to plan for - your spouse could become disabled or get hit by a bus.

Precisely. I’ve never been married, but I’ve always been absolutely amazed by the number of women who blithely go through life assuming that they’ll never need to make any money. I find the idea of placing my well-being (and that of my children) so completely in someone else’s hands to be, well… the nicest way I can say it is “wildly optimistic”. Honestly I’m more inclined toward “Foolish, and frankly a little childish.”

In my first marriage, when things started to go awry, I started squirreling away cash. By the end, I had a couple of thousand dollars hidden in the bathroom under the tampons.

In this marriage, I have no backup plan or private money. This makes my mom anxious, not because of anything about my current husband, but she thinks women should have some money put away “just in case”.

Of course I have a plan. My husband and I have a very happy marriage, but he could die, or become unable to work, or suddenly go off the deep end somehow (not that I think that likely, but it’s a non-zero probability). Everyone should have a plan, especially SAHMs who need to be able to get back into the workforce should they find themselves needing to.

Married housewife here (no kids) - I also have a profession I can re-enter at any time (accounting clerk) and probably will pretty soon. We are living comfortably on one salary at the moment, and have for the last year, but I’d still like to work part-time. My husband and I have split the household responsibilities; I do all the household stuff, and he works full-time and provides the money. In some ways, if we split, he’d be in a position where he’d have to get used to doing stuff again, too - he comes home from work to a hot meal every day, I make his lunch for him, I do all the cleaning and shopping and bill paying - we’d both have to pick up duties we’ve let go in that situation. I have to say, though, that I am not completely comfortable being financially dependent, and I don’t think I ever will be. I’ve supported myself for too long for that, I suspect (I got married at 35).

I guess the short answer is no, I don’t have a back-up plan, but I’d go back to doing what I was doing when I was single if something happened.

Married, but I have no kids and do work outside the home, so I don’t need an additional plan necessarily. My paycheck is direct-deposited into my (non-joint) checking account, which I pay household bills barring rent and my husband’s credit card bills out of. I do not have any “private money” stashed, though. No pre-nup.

As others have said, it’s foolish to think that divorce is the only reason you could need this, and thus having some sort of career that one could take on isn’t a demonstration of lack of trust. Your spouse could die tomorrow, or be left profoundly disabled and in need of medical care. You’d need an income and hopefully health insurance.

I will be getting married in August and we’ve lived together for almost a year now and of course I have a back up plan. I don’t think of it as a divorce plan (though we are getting a prenup we don’t plan to ever have to think about it again after it gets shoved in a drawer somewhere) but as a death plan. My SO and I are not immortal and since we plan to be together forever one of us is going to leave the other behind after they die. That could be 6 months from now in a car accident or 60 years from now due to cancer or something but either way that day is coming. I absolutely insist on having a plan for that situation and being able to support myself and any kids we may have in the event that he dies or becomes disabled and isn’t physically able to work anymore. I insist he have a plan as well.

As a young widow (well, I feel old, but that’s neither here nor there) of someone who was disabled, there’s no way I would enter another marriage without having a back up plan. Things fall apart.

My back up plan is to aquire 47 cats, and start hoarding those weird dolls you get from QVC.

I currently make more $$ than my husband (although this will change soon) so there’s no real plan needed. If he left I would continue to make more $$ and have many more cats and crap (both cat and otherwise).

Having a backup plan doesn’t (I believe) mean your faith in your marriage is waivering. The breadwinning spouse could (though we certainly hope won’t) be removed from the scene by accident or illness or aliens.

Both spouses/partners should make plans so that should the unthinkable happen the awfulness of that situation won’t be compounded by financial surprises or pitfalls.

I have life insurance so that should something happen to me my son will be taken care of. Ours is a 2 earner household so my backup plan is to cut down expenses and consider a second job.

My husband and I have each been married to other people previously, and were both really financially undone in our first marriages. For that reason our finances are a lot more separate than I beleive is true of most married couples. Last fall the downside of this became apparent when Mr. Dee landed quite unexpectedly in the hospital. It was just for a day and he’s fine now, but it happened ot be the day that he was scheduled to use online banking to transfer money into the account we use for the rent, utilities, etc. I don’t know his passwords or logins so there was a small mess of late payments to sort out but if he’d had an extended stay it could have been much worse. I took that as a wakeup call.

I don’t typically bother about sequential threads but I did notice that when I clicked on this one: *Married Dopers: Do you have a “back up plan?” *it was followed by: *increasingly sophisticated sex dolls for men *

We’ve got life insurance in case one of us dies or is incapacitated, but it feels like it would be morally wrong for me to have a backup plan for divorce.

My friends have been married 7 years, and just had a kid 6 months ago. They bought a house 2 months ago, with plenty of money down. But they also have a mortgage on the condo they just moved out of.

They do well financially, and both of them work, but she makes a good deal less than him (and she’s the one with the degree!).

This week, he was laid off from his job. His job that no one ever thought would go away. He works for a mega mega US company that will never go out of business - but, I guess, will restructure itself on a whim.

That’s not death or disability or divorce. But it’s still a huge blow that no one could have predicted. Now, the details of his layoff are quite favorable to them not losing their shirts, but if they had to switch gears right now in the middle of them already switching gears…wow, that’d be a clusterfuck.

Smart strategy.

Strictly speaking, it doesn’t apply to me as I am currently the breadwinner, but who was the dominant wage earner has shifted back and forth in my marriage and at one time I was largely the stay-at-home even if now he is.

Both of us have accounts that are single-name only, but the main account where 90% of collective funds reside is in our both our names. Even where an account is in his name or my name, we have the proper account numbers/passwords, etc written down in case one of us gets ill. The other is listed as a beneficiary on the single-name items, in case of death. I handle the health insurance, but he knows where all the info is and how much and when the payments are each month. He handle utility bills, but again, I know where the information on those is kept. We reguarly meet and review/discuss financial matters and where everything is, like once a month. So part of the back-up plan is either one being able to take over the household duties of the other, and knowing where all the money goes.

No pre-nup - neither of us brought much to the marriage so it was irrelevant. If I wind up with money, or marry into money (if, Og forbid, something happens to the current husband) I’d want a pre-nup AND a will drawn up so in the event of Something Bad there is less chance of relatives going into a feeding-frenzy.

My husband is surprisingly tolerant of my inclination to do this - it’s a good marriage.

All of the above.

My paternal grandfather died suddenly, leaving his wife with 10 kids to take care of back during the depression. In response, grandma insisted that BOTH the boys and the girls learn how to cook, clean, sew, and work at a paying job (and she took a LOT of crap for it back then, as that was Not Done). As a result, I have uncles who didn’t feel compelled to marry to be taken care of (and oddly enough, all wound up with very good mates and marriages, possibly because they didn’t feel compelled to marry) and aunts who, even as stay at home mothers, were self-confident and also in happy marriages (again, possibly because they didn’t need a man to take care of them so they could be choosy instead of marrying the first creep who asked them). On my father’s side, his father disappeared early, and his mom was also a single mom who worked as an account outside the home for decades to support her two boys, again, during the depression.

With that in my background… of course I have a backup plan. I’m third generation “have a back-up plan”, and a darn good thing because my husband is disabled and now I am taking care of him - not just working for the money but also doing the lion’s share of the house keeping because, you know, he’s not able to do a lot of stuff.

In my family it’s been more death and disability rather than divorce (though I have some relatives who’ve been through that, too). Girls as well as boys get it drummed into their heads that even if they wind up as house-spouses and don’t need to work outside the home or handle finances or whatever they need to know how to do this just in case.

I’m a very firm believer in contingency planning at all levels.

I’ve arranged for a considerable amount of life insurance for myself, with my wife as beneficiary. Does that count? I suppose it is more her back up plan than mine.

Married, and my spouse and I both work so I may not entirely be the target audience, however:
I firmly believe that even in the most trusted marriage, a stay-at-home spouse should have her (or his!) own credit etc. - simply to make things easier if something should happen to the spouse. Not just divorce, but death / disability.

If your wife is like a couple of women I know who have informed their husbands that “divorce is not an option (and no amount of infidelity will make it one) but murder always is” . . . it’s a back-up plan.

But it’s a fairly limited back-up plan.