If you feel like you may be experiencing financial abuse in your marriage but are not quite sure, this article is for you.
In this article, I explain what stay-at-home mom financial abuse looks like, what to do about it, and how to protect yourself financially in your relationship.
To ensure I’m giving you the most accurate information, I spoke with some therapists regarding this topic to get their insights.
Keep reading below to hear what they have to say.
What Is Stay-at-Home Mom Financial Abuse?
I spoke with Terri DiMatteo, a licensed professional counselor (LPC) who focuses on couples and relationships.
According to Ms. DiMatteo, LPC “Stay-at-home mom financial abuse is when a spouse or partner uses money as a weapon to entrap, control, dominate, and manipulate a spouse or partner who is a mother without independent means of income”.
Financial abuse can happen in any relationship, but it’s most common in relationships where one person is a stay-at-home mom and the other partner makes all the money.
Dr. Megan Ford, a certified financial therapist (CFP), and marriage and family therapist (LMFT) said that stay-at-home mom financial abuse “may not be the most readily identified form of abuse, but it is one of the most powerful ways to keep someone trapped in an abusive relationship.
This is because it significantly reduces their capacity to leave an abusive partner, as they may have little to no support or financial stability outside of the relationship.
In fact, concerns over whether they can provide financially for themselves and their children is a big reason for staying in or returning to an abusive partner.
Now that we’ve defined what stay-at-home mom financial abuse is, let’s take a deeper look at how it may appear in a marriage.
Below I describe some scenarios that’ll give you a better understanding of how financial abuse might present itself in a stay-at-home mom’s relationship.
What Does Stay-at-Home Mom Financial Abuse Look Like?
According to Terri DiMatteo, you’re in a financially abusive relationship as a stay-at-home mom when:
- Your spouse or partner withdraws money from a joint account and moves it to an individual account without your knowledge or consent.
- Your husband forges your signature without your consent.
- Your spouse spends joint money freely on themselves as your needs and your kid’s needs go unmet.
- The financially abusive spouse takes out a line of credit in the SAHM’s name without her consent.
- Secret checking, investment, or savings accounts in your spouse’s name which is hidden from you.
This is considered financial abuse because your spouse is hiding money from you. It shows their lack of trust and consideration for your financial well-being.
By forging your signature they could take out secret loans in your name and get you into mountains of debt, without your knowledge.
If the loans and other debt in your name are left unpaid, it will eventually ruin your credit. You may even lose your home and other assets.
Subtle Signs of Stay-at-Home Mom Financial abuse
There are subtle signs of financial abuse that stay-at-home moms must pay attention to. According to Dr. Megan Ford, CFT, LMFT “More subtle financial abuse might show up for stay-at-home moms that initially may seem loving or helpful.
As an example, the abusive partner may offer to take over all of the financial responsibilities so they feel less overwhelmed by household tasks and can better prioritize the children.
But eventually, over time a mom might find themselves with less and less decision-making power and access to the family funds”.
If you no longer have access to financial accounts that you used to have access to, then you’re probably being financially abused. This can happen when your spouse changes your account password, making it impossible to access money without his permission.
Obvious Signs of Stay-at-Home Mom Financial abuse
There are other obvious signs of financial abuse that stay-at-home moms should watch out for. Dr. Megan Ford lists some of them below.
You’re being financially abused as a stay-at-home mom if:
- Your spouse is the only one allowed to decide how all of the money is spent in your household.
- You get a strict allowance every month, and that’s the only money you’re allowed to spend. Whereas your spouse can spend however much he likes without your permission.
- Your husband purposefully excluded you from important financial decisions regarding housing, employment, and investing.
- Your spouse racks up large amounts of debt on joint accounts or doesn’t pay the bills in an effort to sabotage your credit.
- If your husband steals your identity and uses it to open up secret accounts.
- Your spouse steals your children’s identity, property, or savings.
- Your husband forces you to commit fraud such as writing bad checks and filing false insurance claims or tax returns.
So far we’ve discussed all the signs to look for to see if you’re in a financially abusive relationship as a stay-at-home mom. Now, let’s take a look at what you can do to protect yourself financially if that is the case.
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What can a stay-at-home mom do to protect herself financially?
It is extremely important that a stay-at-home mom remains informed about her finances. Avoid leaving the burden of looking after the finances to just your spouse.
Below are some things you can do as a stay-at-home mom to protect yourself financially.
Periodically check all your accounts
Dr. Megan Ford, LFT suggests making a list of your financial accounts and doing periodic checks of them. These periodic checks will enable you to recognize if money is missing from your account that has no explanation.
Learn how to manage your finances
If you’re the type of stay-at-home mom who lets her husband handles the finances, because you don’t know a lot about managing money, then it’s time to change.
Now is the time to learn all about every aspect of money management. You can do so easily with the online learning tool called FinancialFit.
FinancialFit offers 1-5 minute simplified lessons on complicated topics such as budgeting, borrowing money, managing debt, building credit, etc.
Each lesson is tailored to the individual and taught in a fun, simple way that’s easy to understand by beginners. You can do the lessons with your phone or laptop.
Build your credit
Another thing you can do to protect yourself financially as a stay-at-home mom is to build your credit score.
It is extremely important to build your credit as a stay-at-home mom for many reasons. The first is that you won’t feel trapped in a financially abusive relationship because you don’t have a means of supporting yourself.
With good credit, you’ll be able to get different types of loans and even a credit card. When you have access to these things, you can walk away from abuse and start over easily.
Read this detailed article I wrote to learn how to build your credit score as a stay-at-home mom.
Know your worth as a stay-at-home mom
A stay-at-home mom may accept abuse because she feels insecure about not contributing financially to her household.
Your spouse may throw it in your face often that you have no right to demand full access to your finances because you don’t bring in any money.
If you accept this to be true, then you’re giving your power away. This will eventually lead to control and abuse.
That’s why you must know your worth as a stay-at-home mom.
Just because you don’t earn money doesn’t mean you’re not doing real work. As SAHMs, we’re the chefs, the childcare experts, the cleaners, the laundry person, the chauffeurs, etc.
I can go on about the many hats that we wear, but I wrote an entire article about it here: SAHM duties list
In fact, the juice company Welch did a survey of 2000 moms with kids ages 5-12. They analyzed their weekly schedule and found that being a mom is the equivalent of having 2.5 full-time jobs.
So don’t ever feel like your worth is measured by how much money you earn in your relationship.
Learn about your tax filing options
As a stay-at-home mom, you’re eligible to file taxes separately from your husband even if you have no income.
If your spouse has incurred debts, mismanaged your finances, and is owing the IRS money, then filing separately will help disconnect you from your spouse’s tax liability.
You won’t be responsible for their debt.
Knowing your tax filing options is another way to protect yourself financially as a stay-at-home mom.
If you’re wondering if you’ll be eligible for the child tax credit, or if you can claim your child as a dependent when you file separately as a stay-at-home mom, then read this article: All you need to know about filing taxes as a SAHM according to experts.
Plan for your retirement
Just because you’re not earning money, doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to plan for your own retirement.
Having control of your future retirement options is a great way to protect yourself financially as a stay-at-home mom. No one can take that from you.
Some ways you can plan for retirement include opening a spousal IRA, a solo 401K, stock brokerage accounts, etc.
I wrote a very detailed article that talks about 9 different ways that stay-at-home moms can plan for their retirement. In the article, I spoke with several financial advisors to get their input. So make sure you check it out for more information.
Consider starting a small business
Starting a small business is a great way to protect yourself financially. It’ll help you become financially independent from your spouse. You’ll have enough money to save for retirement as well.
There are two major types of small business that is suitable for a stay-at-home mom to start. They include an online e-commerce business and a work-from-home small business.
With an e-commerce business, you don’t have to worry about having a physical product to ship to customers. No need to build your inventory in a warehouse. Everything you sell will be done completely online.
Some online business ideas include print-on-demand, selling digital products on Etsy, etc. Some work-from-home small business ideas include hairdressing, candle making, party planning, etc.
I wrote a comprehensive article listing 27 small business ideas for stay-at-home moms. This includes both e-commerce and work-from-home businesses. So check it out for some inspiration.
Get a side gig
If starting a small business is too daunting a task for you then find a side gig to make money. Some examples of a side gig you can do are DoorDash, UberEats, Grocery delivery, etc.
Things that don’t require a set commitment are great side gigs for stay-at-home moms. You can choose when to work and for how long. Check out this article to learn about other side gigs you can do to make extra cash today.
Some Other Ways To Protect Yourself Financially As A Stay-at-Home Mom
Learn how to set healthy boundaries and say no
In any relationship, it’s important that we set boundaries regarding what we will tolerate and what we won’t.
If you feel like your spouse’s behavior borders on financial abuse, then you need to let them know that you won’t tolerate it.
It’s important for us to voice our feelings and say no when we’re uncomfortable with something. If you don’t, then your partner may think it’s okay to continue behaving that way.
Decide as a couple how to allocate money into your accounts
Deciding what account to put your money in is both of your responsibilities. As a couple, you should both agree on how your money is spent each month and what to save for.
Have open access to all your financial accounts
Make sure you both keep track of the login information for each of your accounts. If the information does change, then both parties should be informed. This way, you won’t have to worry about losing access to your accounts.
Don’t shy away from talking about money
They say that money is one of the reasons marriages break up. If that’s the case then we need to get more comfortable talking about money.
If you don’t like how the money in your account is being spent, then say something to your partner. If you want to invest in a particular fund, feel free to bring it up with your partner as well.
Whatever you have questions about regarding money should always be brought up. When things are transparent, both people feel more secure in the relationship.
Now that we know how to protect ourselves financially as stay-at-home moms, let’s take a look at what you can do if you’re being financially abused.
How To Deal With Financial Abuse In A Marriage As A Stay-at-Home Mom
Here’s what Terri DiMatteo, LPC suggests that a stay-at-home mom do to deal with financial abuse.
Finds a trusted confidant to whom you can talk honestly
Abusers thrive on isolating their victims. Having someone to confide in about your situation will help you see things from a different perspective. Your friend can provide you with the support and encouragement you need to escape your abusive situation.
Hide some money in unsuspecting places
They can be ordinary locations, so long as they don’t appear to be where one would expect to find money or gift cards. For example, if your laundry basket has a cloth lining, it can conceal money in the lining. Money can hide in plain sight so long as it’s carefully hidden.
Dr. Meghan Ford, LFT, MFT, Suggests dealing with financial abuse in this way
Seek out help for you and your partner
If you feel that your partner may be willing to change their abusive behavior when confronted with it, then going to therapy together is a good first step.
A trained professional therapist has the tools to help individuals/couples deal with abusive behavior and change. But they must be willing to change.
If your husband is not willing, then you need to find a way out of the relationship. You must consider the safety of yourself and your children first when making this decision.
Seek support from family
When you’re ready to leave your abusive situation, seek support from your family. Don’t be afraid to tell them what’s been going on.
You may be surprised by the amount of support you’ll get. No one wants their loved ones to be financially abused.
Don’t be afraid to ask for the specific help you need. They may be able to provide you with a place to stay, help with employment, some clothes, etc.
Contact a local domestic violence shelter
Financial abuse occurs in 99% of domestic violence cases (source). So don’t think that just because your spouse isn’t physically violent, you can’t seek help in a domestic violence shelter.
If you have no place else to go, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
They will help you and your children with resources to get back on your feet again, away from your abuser.
If you have left an abusive situation, making sure you’ve secured your accounts and personal information is important.
Change passwords for any and all of your email accounts. Also change any ATM and debit card PIN codes on accessible accounts, as well as online credit card, banking, and investment passwords.
Final Thoughts On Overcoming Stay-at-Home Mom Financial Abuse
If you feel like you may be experiencing financial abuse as a stay-at-home mom, know that you’re not alone.
You’ve taken the first step to educating yourself on what to look for in your relationship. I hope that this article has given you a clear explanation of what SAHM financial abuse looks like on a daily basis.
If you’re not sure if your situation is financial abuse, then know that you can protect yourself financially in your marriage as a stay-at-home mom.
I’ve listed some of them above. I hope you’ll use some of the strategies on the list starting today.
You don’t have to stay in a financially abusive relationship. You’re worth more than that. Gather all your resources and find a way to get out of your abusive relationship.
If you found this article helpful, please comment below and let me know.