finance

Why every woman needs a secret bank account.

It’s time we started looking at secret bank accounts differently. It’s not about being able to hide from your partner how much you really spend on clothes or hair, it’s about having money set aside as a security blanket. Just in case. Maybe you lose your job or get sick. Maybe you need to leave and start over. Maybe you just want the knowledge that you can tide yourself over, without your partner.

It’s been called a “F**k Off Fund” but it doesn’t need to be as dramatic as that.

Let’s call it a “Just In Case Fund”.

New research, by ING Direct, has found 18% of Australian women keep a secret bank account just in case they need to leave their relationship or so they can purchase items their partner may not approve of.

It’s about taking back the power and giving yourself options.

'If you broke up with your partner could you afford to leave?' Image: The Breakup, Universal Pictures

The term "F**k Off Fund" was first used by Billfold columnist Paulette Perhach earlier this year. She described it as an account that protects women against sudden unemployment, a bad break up or an abusive relationship. But if you talk to any woman who has suffered from a sudden, dramatic life change (or whatever nature) you'll quickly realise that if you want to be able to make real choices, you need some money to back you up.

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Most women begin relationships with their own money but then comes marriage and children and perhaps a break from working and before you know it, all the money is pooled together and you don't have any of your own. Then what happens if the marriage doesn't work out? Does you stay simply because you can't afford to leave?

"Couples need to discuss money at the beginning of their relationship, not just when they're about to get married," says certified financial planner and creator of Affinity Private Catherine Robson. She suggests couples build relationships of trust and respect around what their financial values are. This will set the tone for their entire relationship.

"The biggest problem on a societal level is that we assign more value to male purchases such as motorbikes than we do to female purchases like clothing and makeup," says Robson. "Society says women's purchases are frivolous. That's something we need to address."

She says it's less about what you spend your money on and more about you being able to decide how you spend your money, without having to answer for it.

When it comes to money Robson says to "expect the best and plan for the worst."

"A third of people couldn't go a month if they didn't get paid and so it's not just about being able to break up with your partner and more about coming up with a contingency plan for both of you whether you get sick, lose your job or break up."

Robson also says it doesn't have to be the same for all couples. It depends on how you feel comfortable managing things.

It's a really good idea to set this up at the beginning of a relationship because then the account doesn't have to be a secret, sinister thing. It's just "always been that way".

Most importantly, you need to keep it that way so you can make major life decisions based on what you want, not on what you are financially tied to. So you can "f**k off" from any situation, no matter what it involves.

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