Who Got Custody of the Car?
So, I was reading Crazy Aunt Purl's blog today and between guffaws at her mad encounter with AAA couldn't help bristling at how women often get the short end of the stick when a marriage comes to an end. The short version: After 10 years as joint members of AAA, after her divorce Aunt Purl got herself a brand-new "solo" AAA membership...and was promptly denied the upgraded coverage (which she would have paid extra for) because she hadn't been a member for a year. Did her ex suffer the same fate at the hands of the evil car people? You betcha not, chica.
Whoever says it isn't a man's world any longer just isn't paying attention.
I remember about a decade or so ago when I took out a loan to buy my first car, the teller at my local bank who helped me with the loan -- and who was about my mom's age -- told me about how she was denied a loan at her very own bank...never mind that she friggin' worked there, they knew she had the capacity to repay the loan, etc etc etc. She said, "It's a good thing to establish your own credit history now, before you're married, or else everything gets tied up in your husband's name and you'll never establish your own independent record." Eeesh.
The scariest story by far, though, came from a book about hunger in America (the title of which completely escapes me now). The book was a collection of true stories of Americans who can't afford to feed themselves, and let me tell you, some of them were the people you'd least likely suspect of going to bed hungry. The first story is the one that made the biggest impression on me by far. It was about a middle-aged woman who did the classic put-the-husband-through-med-school-then-stay-home-and-raise-the-kids thing. One day, her big-shot husband came home and, as they were getting dressed to go out to a family party, told her that he was leaving her for his secretary. She was floored, and also aghast that there were family members waiting right downstairs for them. The husband said not to worry -- she should go to the party without him and they would talk about it all when she came home. When she came home -- did you guess? -- the house was empty. He had taken all his stuff and nearly everything of value and gone. He'd also taken the trouble to empty all their bank accounts. This woman who had literally given her husband the best years of her life was reduced to stealing food coupons from her synogogue's food bank to put food on the table for herself and her teenage sons.
When I got married, I decided there was no way in holy hell that I would ever be put in that position. No. Way. I kept a bank account in my name, in trust for DH, who knows all about the account. That way, if anything ever happens to me, the money will go to him, but till then, I'm the only one who can make withdrawls. Weird, huh, that I trust him enough not to smother me in my sleep for that money but I still need the security of having the account in my name only. I'm sure a shrink would have fun with that one.
Still, I'm not giving up that account. And I put money in it every month, too. Because you simply Do. Not. Know. You think you do...you hope you do...but you don't.
So, ladies, be smart -- and for you men out there, you be smart, too. Put whatever you want in joint with your SO, but leave something that's just yours. You never know when it may be the only thing you've got left.
Oh, and remember to put the AAA membership in your name.