Everyone Needs A Fuck Off Fund: The Relationship Edition
YES, E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E! Even if you’re in a relationship and you have joint savings, you each still need your own Fuck Off Fund.
If you haven’t read A Story of a Fuck Off Fund by Paulette Perhach, it’s a must! Perhach refers to the Fuck Off Fund as ‘financial self defense.’ For me, it’s always been about insurance. None of us wants to imagine the life we’ve built with the person that we love falling apart, but it happens every day. Saving for that possible eventuality isn’t a sign of uncertainty about your relationship – it’s just prudent financial planning.
In a recent money survey, Glamour magazine found that 31 percent of readers said they’ve been trapped in a relationship because of financial reasons. That’s 31 percent too many!
What’s Mine Is Yours, Except For My Fuck Off Fund
I get that for many couples, it’s not ‘his money’ or ‘her money’ – it’s ‘our money.’ I get that you’re a team. I get that having joint accounts helps you work together on your goals and dreams. That’s awesome!
You still need your own money.
What if the person you’re with decides that they’d rather not be with you anymore? What if you decide you don’t want to be with them? What if they cheat? What if they become abusive?
Don’t Trust The Lock To Which Everyone Has A Key
If you’re in a couple, you each need your own fund in a separate account to which only you have access. Not a joint savings account that either person could drain, not a joint credit card that either person could cancel. A readily-accessible-in-your-name-only-just-in-case account. You need to be able to get a place to stay, keep or find a job, and feed yourself while you figure things out.
This is particularly important for someone in a couple who is not working outside the home and doesn’t have access to an income.
What’s the harm in one extra account each that you don’t even need to touch except in case of an emergency? If you prefer joint accounts, you can still manage most of your money and spending together. Sure it’s one more account to think about, but is a slight inconvenience worth jeopardizing yourself?
If You Love Someone, Set Them Free
When did we decide that commitment and trust required completely joint bank accounts? There are many other ways to show someone your love that don’t risk your safety or independence.
Saving an individual fund is not an indication that you’re uncommitted to your relationship.
Are you uncommitted to driving safely when you buy car insurance? No. You’re preparing for the future, and anything that might happen in it. It means you know that something could come up at any time that isn’t within your control. If anything, reducing your financial dependence on each other can show a greater commitment – it means that you’re staying together because you choose to be with each other, not because your money is inextricably linked. That sounds pretty romantic to me!
Saving an individual fund is not an indication that you don’t trust each other.
A separate account doesn’t have to be secretive or shady. If you have open lines of communication and have established mutual trust, the location where someone stores money shouldn’t be a concern. If you need to monitor every transaction to make sure that they’re not cheating or overspending, you already have a trust issue! In cases of addiction you might need to monitor someone’s spending to ensure they haven’t relapsed, but for most of us there’s no reason to be wary of separate funds.
Saving an individual fund is not an indication that your relationship is unstable.
I’m sure you’ve heard the stories of people who have been together for 10, 15, or 103 years with one joint account from the beginning and they’re happy to rant to you about how it’s the only way. That’s fantastic for them, truly, but there are so many other people with completely combined finances who found themselves in a financially disastrous or physically dangerous situation.
Let’s talk about that.
Recognizing and Protecting Yourself From Financial Abuse
Financial abuse is often used as a form of control in relationships, and can be present throughout the relationship or begin and escalate when a victim attempts to leave or has left. Cases of financial abuse can include:
- Forbidding the victim to work.
- Sabotaging work or employment opportunities by stalking or harassing the victim at the workplace or causing the victim to lose her/his job by physically battering prior to important meetings or interviews.
- Forbidding the victim from attending job training or advancement opportunities.
- Controlling how all of the money is spent.
- Not including the victim in investment or banking decisions.
- Not allowing the victim access to bank accounts.
- Withholding money or giving “an allowance.”
- Forcing the victim to write bad checks or file fraudulent tax returns.
- Running up large amounts of debt on joint accounts.
- Refusing to work or contribute to the family income.
- Withholding funds for the victim or children to obtain basic needs such as food and medicine.
- Hiding assets.
- Stealing the victim’s identity, property, or inheritance.
- Forcing the victim to work in a family business without pay.
- Refusing to pay bills and ruining the victims’ credit score.
- Forcing the victim to turn over public benefits or threatening to turn the victim in for “cheating or misusing benefits.”
- Filing false insurance claims.
- Refusing to pay or evading child support or manipulating the divorce process by drawing it out by hiding or not disclosing assets.
Researchers found that 99% of domestic violence survivors had experienced financial abuse. Financial abuse can happen gradually, with the victim becoming increasingly trapped in the relationship. Without access to money, survivors are often forced to choose between homelessness or returning to their abusers. Financial abuse is not a victim’s fault, and is not a result of their choices.
For more information or to get help, visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (US) or the Ending Violence Association of Canada. If you are in immediate danger or fear for your safety, call 9-1-1.
Fuck You Fund Magic
I hope by now I’ve convinced at least some of you out there to start saving your own money – just in case. If not, maybe these stories will inspire you.
Money can give you new opportunities.
“Having my own income helped me to leave a bad marriage. On top of many personal issues, the financial aspect of our breakup was critical: he was a compulsive spender (don’t ask me what he was buying, as I still don’t know) and put us in major debt. When I decided to leave, I realized that I could save 30% of my salary each month – despite losing his income! When we had two salaries we were struggling, while alone I rocked it. Now I’m married again (with a prenup!) and we’re on our way to early retirement within 7 years.” – Agata
“I broke up with my boyfriend unexpectedly and I called professional movers to move my shit IMMEDIATELY and I threw money at it like it was nothing. I felt like a badass and I was gone with the wind in a day!” – @jmm_2104
Money can give you peace of mind.
“It is comforting to have that cash in my name only in case I need to run. I’m not worried about the division of assets for this. I’m protecting myself in case my husband turns out to be abusive (which I hope is never the case). But I don’t care and I need to feel safe.” – @CoupleOfSense
Money can give you an escape hatch.
“I’m so glad that I didn’t combine finances with my former spouse. When I left my toxic marriage, I had $1,000 in a savings account in my name. I wish I had $3,000, because I still had to borrow money from my family to leave. I think that saving money is extremely important, especially for couples that have a disparity in incomes. If the marriage is sound, having a buffer that each person is aware of shouldn’t be a big deal – as long as you agree on it. Personal finance is personal and you need to make it work for you and your life – however that manifests for you. That being said, everyone should save money!” – @veefrugalfox
The Part Where I Beg You To Save Money
If you’re in a relationship and you have completely combined finances, please consider opening separate accounts for each of you. If you earn the only income in the household, please consider setting aside a portion of that income for the other person to save. There are too many cases where a person (read: usually a woman) provides child care and household upkeep (read: beneficial, unpaid labour for the family) for years and ends up at a severe disadvantage because of it. If you feel like you don’t have any money to save, try to find even $5 somewhere and go from there.
Ideally you’ll never need to use these accounts, but it doesn’t hurt to take the precaution. The alternative, almost one third of us staying in an unfulfilling or abusive relationship simply because of money, is too heartbreaking to think about.