Most single income families will typically merge their finances together in order to make things easier to manage. After all, when you live on one pay-cheque it doesn’t make much sense to have multiple accounts open under both parents’ names.
But you might want to think twice before closing all of your stay at home parents’ accounts. It’s a good idea to continue building credit history for a stay at home parent, even if you decide early on that your spouse will likely never return to the work force. Here are three tips to maintain credit history for stay at home parents.
Keep One Credit Card In Your Name
Before you got married and had kids, you probably had at least one or more credit cards in your own name. Keep one. Even if you prefer to use a different credit card for the majority of your household spending, keeping one credit card in your name will help continue to build your credit history.
My wife still has a credit card in her name from before we got married and we have set it up to pay for a small monthly subscription in order to keep the account active. Just remember to pay off the balance each month.
It’s a lot easier to keep one existing credit card account active under your name than to cancel all of your cards and then try to re-apply for one down the road when you have no income.
Consider a Separate Bank Account
Single income families are more likely to combine finances and move to a joint bank account. When my wife stopped working we closed her chequing account and opened a joint account to make things easier to manage with one income. We were also paying bank fees at the time, so it made sense to merge our accounts into one.
Even though we’ve been using a joint account for a few years I can definitely see the merits of having separate bank accounts. Just because your spouse isn’t working, doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t deserve to have some money of their own. Open up a no fee bank account in your name so that you can have your own spending money without feeling like you have to ask for a cash allowance every month.
Besides, sometimes life throws a curve-ball our way and in the event of a divorce, illness or death you need to be prepared to deal with your finances even if you’re not accustomed to it. Having your own bank account will at least give you some financial independence and allow you to pay your bills and access cash if you need it.
Continue Building Your Credit Rating
In addition to keeping one credit card in your name, stay at home parents should look at other ways to build their credit rating. In my wife’s case, she also has a cell phone account under her name.
In order to raise your credit score, you need to make sure that you pay your bills on time. The longer your history of on time payments, the better your credit rating will be. One missed payment can hurt your score if you aren’t careful. So if your working spouse pays all of the bills, make sure they don’t forget about the accounts under your name.
For a stay at home parent, maintaining your credit history may seem like an afterthought, but it is important. Consider this the next time you apply jointly for a mortgage or a car loan. And should your spouse pass away, their credit history will go with them and you’ll no longer be able to get by on their good credit alone.
Keep these tips in mind when deciding if you’ll have one parent stay at home with your kids.