Why you should stay in control of your finances and future

Some time ago, I wrote about the potential pitfalls of investing a lot of time and resources into unpaid, unacknowledged work, even and especially if you’re working in a family business and/or for your spouse.

Honestly, I didn’t expect the post to get any traction. I mostly treated it as a mini-rant on my private web corner. But surprisingly (or perhaps not), I keep getting feedback on what I wrote back then.

Here are a couple of the public comments:

“My husband left me for a younger girl and abandoned me. For 25 years, I worked with him in his company and never had a role, never been put on the books at all. I have no social security at all. What do I do?”

“We bought a business 7 years into a common law marriage. It was in my wife’s name only. I have worked there for free for 19 years. Never thought much about it until now. We have been together 25 years now and she just left me and moved out for a guy she just met. I’m left running her business that was ours by myself now. I’m 66, disabled because of the hard work at the business. I can’t get medicare or SS because she never paid for me… now I’m told that it’s her business and I benefited from it by having a place to live and food for 19 years! I’m tired, disabled and left without anything.”

You guys, these people did what appears the most natural thing in the world. They trusted their partners and put in the work for a family business without keeping score. Because that’s what you do when you’re married, right? But it can lead to some absolutely heartbreaking, glaringly unfair situations. I believe the commenters may have some legal recourse, but it would probably take a skilled lawyer who’d agree to work on a contingency basis.

When I was younger, I didn’t believe in planning for financial crises. I saw it as pessimism, or lack of faith, or whatever. I was all about looking at the future with a bright and trusting outlook, and I got my comeuppance. You guys know the story: I moved into the middle of nowhere, cut myself from all transportation and resources, and was left with no means to provide for myself and the kids when we hit a long stretch of unemployment, underemployment, and disastrous financial decisions. I remember there was one job opportunity that was SUCH a great fit for me and so close to home… only 10 minutes’ ride – but as I had no car, it might as well have been on the moon! I remember thinking, “I did this to myself. My own lack of forethought put me in this position.”

I’m in a different and better place now. And I know I talk a lot about finances and financial security. I do this because I feel a duty to warn people: don’t entrust your whole future (and your children’s future) to one person, even if this person is the love of your life. People can fail you. I bet the people who commented on my original post never thought their partners would abandon them. But even if everyone is 100% faithful and well-intentioned, people still fall sick, lose jobs, and run into unexpected financial pitfalls.

Protect yourselves, folks. If you stay home with your kids, have something to fall back on. If you pour your soul into working in a family business, make sure you get official recognition for your role, if not a salary. If you’re married to someone who isn’t very good with money, consider setting up a separate bank account for your own and your children’s sake.

That’s all for now. Here’s to a joyous month of Nissan and a happy, non-stressful Passover.


Author: Anna

An Orthodox Jewish wife and mother enjoying a simple life with her family and chickens, somewhere in the hills, in Israel.

6 thoughts on “Why you should stay in control of your finances and future”

  1. I really love that you are explaining how your thoughts on this have changed given time and experience. I’ve been a stay at home mom for the past 11 years. I’m now studying to recertify so I can return to work in some capacity. It is very difficult! It’s also quite challenging to find work after such a long gap. I really should have worked in some capacity from the beginning. For one thing, it would have made paying for health care much easier (we are in the US, so this is a HUGE expense.) For another, I could have been earning social security quarters of coverage. At this point, what I had had expired. This means that if I am disabled, I can’t get disability payments. If I die, my kids can’t get benefits. I am positive that many people told me all of this, but I honestly paid no attention. Like you, I did this to myself.

    Of note- I have a wonderful, supportive, hardworking husband of over 20 years. He makes plenty of money, we have never struggled. So I haven’t dealt with some heartbreaking situation. It’s more like I just woke up from the baby haze and realized how reckless I’ve been.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One thing I feel lucky about living in Israel is the affordable government funded healthcare and a social security system that is fraught with bureaucracy but will, in a real emergency, support everyone, not just people who work/had worked.
      Otherwise, completely agree with you. I remember the time when I was grasping at straws looking for ANY work, on ANY terms. There was no money to pay for anything. My husband would spend his days in bed sleeping until noon and watching YouTube. I was completely at sea and would never have survived without family who stepped in to help when I was struggling. It feels extremely humbling to realize that.


      1. Yes, the US system of healthcare and disability is a real mess!

        I’m so sorry that you had to go through that with your husband. It’s wonderful that you have supportive family who could help. I hope that things are better for you now.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you; ultimately, I believe it was for the best. I needed that cold slap of reality in the face to start taking control of my life.


  2. For those of you in the accounting profession who took a career break to care for family (or health-related, or any other reason), many firms are now offering avenues to get back into the workforce as part of “Pathway back to work” programs. I have several colleagues in the company I work for and friends in other companies who have benefited from those programs and re-entered the workforce thanks to those programs. While some did not let their credentials lapse, I know of at least one person who had let her credentials lapse, but was able, while already back to work full time, to get employer assistance to get current again.

    Liked by 1 person

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