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Why married women need to be 'financial grown-ups'

In a new book written by a personal finance columnist for Reuters, people who have achieved considerable success in business and finance discuss when they first became "financial grownups" in their own lives. For one woman, Sallie Krawcheck, a former executive with Citigroup and Bank of America and founder of an investment website, it wasn't until she and her husband divorced when she was 28.

That's not unusual. Many women, even today, don't find themselves taking control of their own finances until they and their husband split up. Ellevest, the website founded by Krawcheck, provides a digital investment platform for low-cost investment in exchange-traded funds (commonly known as ETFs) to help them build wealth.

Krawcheck noted that changes in a person's life can happen without warning. Whether it's the death of a spouse or (as in her case) learning that your spouse is cheating on you, women who haven't been actively involved in the household finances can find themselves having to deal with issues they aren't prepared to handle at one of the most emotionally-devastating periods of their lives. She says it's a "recipe for financial disaster."

Krawcheck admits that even though she was building a successful financial career when she was married, she was "managing my own finances like a 1950s-era, stay-at-home housewife. He paid the bills, he made the financial decisions. I didn't even know what our assets were." She advises all women to take control of their finances and for married women to learn from her mistakes and be engaged in the household finances.

It's never too early or too late to start. However, if you are contemplating divorce or you believe that your spouse is, it's essential to find out precisely what assets and debts you both have. The sooner you seek legal and financial advice, whether you end up divorcing or not, the more prepared you'll be for a break-up and the more knowledgeable you'll be about your financial situation -- which is always beneficial.

Source: Business Insider, "One of the most powerful women in banking says she didn't take control of her own finances until her late 20s," Tanza Loudenback, Oct. 18, 2016

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