If I have one goal in this lifetime, it is to help women see the connection between their financial security, and their personal power.
When you have a strong income and earning potential, you make better decisions about your romantic relationships — dating men not who will pay your rent, but men who rock your world.
You can leave abusive or even unsatisfying relationships because you worry you can’t make it without his paycheck. If you have money in the bank, and confidence in paying your bills now, and your future later, you are more likely to make sound career risks, and less likely to stay in a crappy, miserable job.
When you have your financial act together, you are more confident, less stressed mom — because you know that what life throws at you, you are more likely to handle with ease.
I LOVE checking my savings accounts daily. Just looking at that cash sitting there, with nowhere to go but to my own sense of security, makes me feel very confident in pretty much every aspect of life.
I swear, to you this: between that money and daily use of coconut oil, my skin stays zit-free and glowing. FACT.
Unfortunately, most people — moms in particular — don’t have cash savings. In fact, a Bankrate survey found that just 39% of Americans have at least $1,000 in savings. Ideally, you have 3 to 6 months savings in cash, separate from your bank account, that you can turn to in the event of an emergency (37 reasons to consider, below!).
Why you need $1,000 minimum in a savings account
Reasons from members of Millionaire Single Moms, our closed Facebook group.
- Dental bills. I got hit with a $182 bill unexpectedly and had to pay before I left the office — Lakeshia
- Broken air conditioner in the middle of a scorching summer. — Maria
- Furnace goes out in the middle of the coldest week of January. — Sabrina
- Deductible if you make a auto or homeowner’s claim. — Michelle
- Kids can’t fly despite what they may believe. — Vanessa
- Fat fingers in HR messes up your direct deposit so you don’t get paid on time. — April
- Car repairs. — A lot of moms
- Including new tires. — Shana
- Summer camp/daycare expenses you weren’t expecting. — Amy
- Unexpected sports/club related expenses for the kiddos. — Candace
- Your checking account is hacked and frozen, and you still need to eat. — Tiffany
- Unexpected legal expenses! We were surprised when we were taken to court for grandparent rights and visitation. Completely blindsided and never expected. — Mariah
- You need to flee an abusive situation and have zero family to help you. Laura
- Mice in the crawl space. — Dara
- Sick days when you don't have paid ones or you're out of them. —Cassie
- Jury duty making you unable to work/earn money. — Monique
- Appliance purchase or repair (dishwasher, water heater, washer/dryer, fridge, stove, oven, microwave. —Aimee
- Death or illness of a loved one who lives in another state requires airplane tickets. — Theresa
- You have a family emergency and need child care. — Ivy
- Storm takes out the neighbors tree that lands on your roof, and though insurance will cover it eventually you need someone to come at least do something to keep the water from pouring in. — Sabrina
- Natural disaster, hurricane, tornado, earthquake. — Olga
- If renting and you have to suddenly move you probably need a chunk of change before you get back the security deposit on the old place. — Monica.
- Deposit if you want to switch daycares. — Sarah
- Because it’s hers. I know that sounds facetious; however, the concept of “my” money got lost somewhere in my marriage and losing that ownership meant I lost some of my power and control over things that mattered to me but not him. Having your own savings account means you have some money to take care of things by yourself. — Lakeesha
- Unexpected professional opportunities that pop up and have costs associated with them. — Loren
- [Adds Karen:] Agree. Many companies will foot the plane fare if they have a travel office, but you will have to pay upfront for hotel and incidentals and get reimbursed upon completion of trip.
- Shit. Just shit that happens. Inevitably. — Kenyette
- I call it my Holy Shit Fund. — Beth
- Unplanned medical issue for a pet. — Ivy
- When the reliable child support check doesn’t come in like it usually does. — Sherry
- If you lose your job. — Ivy
- When you run into your ex-husband's garage door because you forgot to put the car in park! Wow… — Amy
- Spike in electric or gas bill. — Ivy
- My dog ate a tampon last week and needed exploratory surgery. $3k later, I was glad to have the ability to pay without having to make some sad choices. (I also had to invest in trash cans with lids after that little incident…) — Elizabeth
- Your purse gets stolen. — Ivy
- You need to be able to depend on YOU! — Neka
- Because you're a grown-ass woman and deserve to have and feel the power of financial security! —Me
How about you? Are you ready to build your $1,000 emergency fund? Check out the best, highest-paying online savings accounts now.
Already have your cash fund? CIT Bank is amongst the highest rate I've found. Open a savings account with CIT bank, with rates at 2.4% APY>>
But if you're ready to take it to the next level and start investing, Ellevest is an excellent robo advisor designed specifically for women, where you can get started for $0. Read my Ellevest review or check out Ellevest now >>
How moms can quickly build a $1,000 savings account
Cash savings in the bank is a huge step in this direction, especially with a solid interest rate. I’ve parked cash in CIT Bank , an online, FDIC insured bank that was founded in 1908, because it offers the highest rate I’ve found.
**CIT Savings Builder is one of the high-interest online savings rate accounts I could find at 2.4% APY with $100 monthly deposits.**
CIT savings accounts benefits include:
- Access to 55,000 ATMs nationwide
- High rate of 2.4% APY with $100 monthly deposits (or a $25,000 balance)
- Just $100 to get started
- Takes less than 5 minutes to apply and fund your account
- Did I mention the high APY!?
Bonus: Betterment's Savings Account
Betterment is a long-time leading roboadvisor, which is a type of investment platform like Ellevest, which automatically invests and allocates your investments to best help you meet your goals. Roboadvisors are gaining a lot of popularity, as studies find that by taking humans out of the investing equation, money actually grows faster. Plus, Roboadvisor fees tend to be much lower, again, thanks to technology replacing humans.
Betterment offers a checking and savings accounts, the latter of which offers a very hot 2.69 APR, plus reimbursed ATM fees. Check out Betterment's Everyday Savings now >>
Bonus 2: Invest in Worthy Bonds
For the past 20 years, traditional savings accounts have offered very low interest rates — often below 1%. While low interest rates overall mean good things if you are buying a home, car or starting a business, they stink when it comes to savings.
Worthy Bonds are an excellent alternative to savings accounts because all deposits earn a fixed 5% interest!
- Get started with just $10
- Withdraw your money any time
- $0 fees
- Automatic payments
- Round-up savings feature. If you're familiar with Acorns or Digit, you know the power of a savings tool that tracks your daily spending and rounds up to the nearest dollar on every purchase — saving the difference.
- Super-easy to set up in 3 minutes. Just go to WorthyBonds.com, hit ‘Get started,' fill out your personal info, bank account and you're ready to start earning 5%!
- Feel good that Worthy earns that interest through secured loans to U.S. businesses
Worthy Bonds are a great place to park your emergency fund, or any other savings as part of your investment strategy. Gets started with Worthy Bonds now >>
Don't have an investment strategy yet? Check out: How to start investing for women
How to quickly find $1,000
Sell stuff you already have
Sell your jewelry
Jewelry is likely one of the most valuable things that you don't use — engagement ring from a relationship that ended? Gold necklace from a relative that you kinda dislike (and never wear)? Get rid of all that stuff!
For larger items worth about $2,500 or more, Worthy is my go-to recommendation. This online jewelry auction site has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, has thousands of happy customers (including members of our online community, as well as me!), and has a 100% secure, transparent process to help you get the highest price for your ring, necklace, earrings, watch, bracelet, and estate jewelry.
Read more about how I sold my engagement ring.
If your jewelry is more modest, or is mostly gold, with small stones, check out CashforGoldUSA. I have also personally used this service, which was found by a Fox News investigation to pay out 3X its competitors. Read more about how you can find out how much your gold is worth, and where sell your gold for the highest price.
Sell your old stuff
Garage sales, consignment, CraigsList or pawn shops, getting rid of stuff you don't want, use or like is not only cathartic, it can be profitable! ThredUp is a great site to sell name-brand clothes, shoes and accessories, while Decluttr is where to unload iPhones, computers, books, video games and electronics.
Cut expenses to save money
Money-saving apps like Trim and Billshark are magical in that they will negotiate savings on your phone, cable, TV and other bills on your behalf. They also comb your accounts for recurring or duplicate subscription bills that you may be paying for — but not using (I once paid double accidentally for Netflix for 6 months! Ouch!).
Related: How to save money on a low income
Shop around for life and car insurances. Bestow is a unique life insurance company that provides plans for as low as $5/month for $250,000 of coverage — which can be perfect if you need short-term coverage between jobs, or after a divorce. Get a quick free life insurance quote now >>
Earn more money!
The best way to save more money, is to earn more money. Ask for a raise (here is how), start a side gig (13 high-paying work-from-home jobs for mom), or find a flexible career from home.
FlexJobs is a paid job board that provides postings ONLY for jobs and contracts that are from vetted companies (i.e. no scams) that are work-at-home, telecommute, or otherwise flexible. Read my FlexJobs review.
Advice from a divorce lawyer why married moms must have their own cash savings account:
The following is a guest post by New York City divorce lawyer Morghan Richardson
Every married woman needs at least $5,000 in a bank account in her own name – no matter what her husband thinks.
Far too many women are going to reject this mandate as an act of marital treason. Let's be clear: I didn’t say the account had to be a secret. I leave that up to the individual woman. Nor did I suggest that you shouldn’t care what your partner thinks. In a healthy relationship you should absolutely care about his opinion. But you should have an account, regardless.
Having your own money is part of being an adult
You’re an adult. You should have some access to cash in your own name, not because it is a “divorce slush fund,” but for scads of other reasons. Having your own money to budget and spend is part of being a grown up. It should be there for emergencies — what if he dies and the joint account is frozen (it happens all the time)? It should also be a place from which you can spend on the occasional luxury or other expense without having to explain every nickel to your husband. What if those fabulous patent leather Jimmy Choo platforms that happened to be on sale? Or your brother is in (another) jam and asks for help? Money affords you options — even if you don't believe you need some of those options right now. That feeling is empowering.
Should married women have a ‘divorce fund'?
But should your account indeed be a “divorce slush fund”? Maybe. I don’t need to throw a bunch of grim divorce rate statistics at you. If you live in this world, you already know. So let’s get real:
An account held jointly in both spouses’ names can be accessed by either person. If your husband drains the account, a judge may require he pay you back some of it. But that can take months or even years. What will you do until then? How do you hire a lawyer to make him pay it back? How do you pay your bills and feed your kids? He may not pay child support or alimony unless that same judge requires him to do so – again, this takes time. How will you make it?
The vast majority of people who come into my office (all of whom are there to get divorced) have an arrangement in which one partner handles the all bills and budget, and the other is oblivious to the family’s income, investments, debt and spending habits. This arrangement didn’t make for a happy union – these couples are divorcing, after all. You don't have to guess which spouse gets burned in the divorce.
No one sets out to get a divorce. No one sets out to have a car accident, either. But sometimes the minivan gets wrecked, and thank God you have insurance, right? So insure yourself. Get an account for all of the harmless reasons, but also know deep down that you have insurance if your marriage fails.
Having your own money is healthy for your marriage
Another thing: opening an account may serve as a pulse-check for your marriage. If your marriage is open and strong, then why would your husband have a problem with you having your own money? If you feel it is out of the question to even mention such an account to your husband, then you probably need your own funds more than you realize. Does the topic make you nervous? Because turn-about is fair play: I suggest he have an account in his name, too. And maybe he already does.
True story of a mom who secretly saved and get out of an abusive marriage:
I know an amazing mother of four children. She is on her second marriage and this time, the marriage is extremely successful. She and her caring, supportive husband are both school teachers. They have two-year-old twins and a house with – literally – a white-picket fence around it. It wasn’t always this way.
I’ll call this woman “Anne.”
Anne’s ex-husband was an obsessive, controlling and verbally abusive police officer. He drank. He cheated. And when Anne protested, he threatened to use his job to take custody of their preschool-aged kids and make her life a living hell. He also threatened to use his position as the sole bread-winner to hire the best lawyer and steam-roll over her in court. Yet, rather than feeling trapped and overwhelmed, Anne seized control of the situation – by taking control of her finances.
But not in the way you might think.
Morghan Richardson is a family and divorce attorney and mediator in New York City. She juggles her Queens-based law practice with her other job as the single mom of two preschool-aged boys, Hayden and Ozzie. Her firm is Richardson Legal, PLLC.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.