This afternoon I had to bring my brand new 08 Altima to the dealership for them to fix some delivery issues. They are paying for a rental car, and I happened to be waiting at the rental company with another lady who brought her car in to the dealership.  She was very pleasant, perhaps late 20s, early 30s, with a young daughter who couldn’t have been more than 4. We chit-chatted a tad while waiting our turns to sign the paperwork. She was sweeter than sugar, allowing me to go first. I commented how that seems easy now since her daughter is well behaved, and I’m sure she’ll go psycho the second I start, and she’ll regret it.  She insisted, and I went first. My transaction took about 10 minutes.


While waiting for them to get my car, the young lady began her transaction.  Her daughter was very well behaved, and I was quite impressed. The first thing the rental agent asked for was a Drivers License and Credit card.  The mom gave him the drives license, but said she did not have a credit card. He said he could use a debit card as well, to which she replied she didn’t have that either.  She had a bunch of plastic in her wallet, but from my vantage point, it was mostly grocery store cards. Now, perhaps because the dealership was paying for her rental as well, she was being crafty and not getting exposure on her card for the preauthorization. However, it’s what she said that literally boiled my blood.


“I don’t have a credit or debit card.” She began. “We’re a one bank account household, and a one credit card household.  My husband works, and I stay home with her.” She continued, pointing to her daughter. “He has the credit card, we can call him for the number.”  The agent explained they can’t talk cards over the phone due to fraud, adding if the card was in her name or her husbands.  “His of course,” she said, “why?” 


The agent explained that since the credit card was in his name, he would have to sign the agreement as well.  She explained that wasn’t possible, since he was 2+ hours away working near their home. The agent explained there was nothing that he could do, and nicely moved on to help others. The woman began making panicked and angry phone calls to the dealership, as well as her husband.  My car came and I left.


So, I am driving back to my office, and try to dissect this woman’s situation.  She’s in her 20s or 30s. She’s got a human being that’s dependant on her, her daughter. She drove 2 hours to bring her car in to the shop, and then had to drive 2 hours back.  Forgetting the whole car rental situation, how could she put herself in a situation where GOD FORBID there’s an emergency, she had better have enough cash, or find someone who’d take a personal check WITHOUT A CHECK CARD OR CREDIT CARD AS COLLATERAL, to help her out of the emergency.  Is she that strong of faith that God, or whomever her higher power is, will carry her safely through every situation and never need emergency funds? Or is she that naive and trusting that her husband has total control over her finances. Lord, if it’s the later, I hope she reads this. If it’s the former, I hope she reads this.


First things first, bank accounts.  If you are going to be a 1 account household, that’s a personal decision and I recognize that. You may not want a his and hers account, and that’s fine. However, make that account JOINT. It’s actually called “Joint tenants with right of survivorship”, or it was when I worked for Chemical Bank back in the early 90s. That means two important things, one which could have helped this lady.  First, it means that in the event something happens and one of the spouses die, the other automatically gets the money.  Otherwise, there is at least SOME legal formality that needs to go through to pass the money from dead spouse to surviving spouse not on the account.  The other important things is SHE WOULD HAVE HAD A BANK CARD FOR THE ACCOUNT.  And since MOST bank checking accounts come with a “Visa” logo on the cash machine card now-a-day, she’d be covered.


Second, think about your credit history.  If your spouse is in 100% control of all the money and accounts, you don’t exist. That means that while you have simplified your banking life, you’ve also complicated your credit future. With no established credit history, getting a loan in the future becomes problematic. And while I realize that this is your fairytale and you and your spouse will be forever together and you’ll never be divorced and need to get a house, car, or furniture, AT LEAST PLAN!  If not for that “negative” possibility, how about for the positive possibility that you may want to apply for a mortgage WITH your spouse in the future.  Establish and maintain a credit card, even if you never use it, just to have the file open and working.


Finally, even if it’s his credit card, based on his credit score, you can order a card in your name. There’s no additional credit check, at least not with Chase and Discover. Both of those banks have issued cards to a second party without ANY information on them, not even a social security number or a credit check. The primary account holder is 100% responsible, of course, but the second person has a card. There may be rules and acceptions to this that I’m not aware of, but my experience was favorable with both.


Ok, It’s an hour or so after this event, and I’m still furious with this woman. I know her full name because we discussed it, and I’m tempted to call her and force her to read this blog post.  How can a SAHM put herself in that sitatuion? How about you? Who are you going to tell to read this blog post? Let me know, and lord, pass it on!

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 21st, 2008 at 2:23 pm and is filed under Life Lesson. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

32 Comments so far

  1. sean808080 on October 21, 2008 2:37 pm

    Being a Suze Orman fan, I think she’d approve of this post. Sometimes people, in their zeal to be extra good, go too far. Not having 20 credit cards that are maxed out is good but not having any credit cards at all is not so much.

    food for though…


  2. Mariana on October 21, 2008 2:46 pm

    I’m a SAHM, as I’m sure you already know, and can completely understand your reaction to that woman’s situation! I can’t even imagine having absolutely no control over my finances. In fact, I oversee everything.

    We have joint checking and savings accounts, and every credit card we have, we get one in the other’s name. Except for my Apple Mastercard… that one’s all mine ;) I hardly ever have cash on me, preferring to use my visa checkcard for rewards points.

    My husband brings in the dinero and I decide where it goes. It works for us.

  3. Veronica on October 21, 2008 2:49 pm

    This isn’t about credit…it’s about control, IMHO. They both enjoy the control and I can relate in a way…My hubby pays the bills. He took over when I was pregnant (had a lot of drama happening & not just in the belly!) and I never took it back.

    That said, we have our own credit cards and our own checking accounts. We have a joint checking to pay joint bills with.

    Hopefully this woman & her husband realize how dangerous this situation is for the reasons you point out. Hell, get her a card in her name for emergencies, cause baby, that’s what she was in.

  4. Jenny, bloggess on October 21, 2008 2:56 pm

    Sad story but it’s hard to know the truth. Personally I kept losing my credit card so ended up cancelling it and now we just have one…the one my husband carries. I do have a debit card for emergencies though and would feel panicked not having that as a back-up.

  5. Shannon Renee on October 21, 2008 3:06 pm

    About 15 years ago, I had gotten into serious credit card debt. When I went for assistance, the credit counselor cut each & every one of my cards, thus forcing me to live only on my cash. He explained that my creditors would not accept any repayment plans if I was still using any of my cards. It was very difficult and I learned to do it. I lived within my means, paid off my debts and began saving. I now have two American Express cards, one for business and one for personal, which I pay off each month.

    My father doesn’t have a credit card or an ATM card. He has had some difficulties or been forced to get the cash, but his mind is made up.

    All I can say is that everyone’s situation is different and I’m hopeful she is making these decisions for herself. If her husband is making these financial decisions for her, then that’s another story and one which I won’t tolerate.

  6. Audrey on October 21, 2008 3:09 pm

    OH… I totally get your frustration with this lady. I hate using credit cards, so I always use my debit, but in this day in age – you need a credit card in your OWN name! Come on… there are times for emergencies you should just have one. And I have been to rental agencies, they make it VERY clear the card must be a credit card. BRAVO!! And tell me her name I will find her! :)

  7. Jessica (femaleprodigy) on October 21, 2008 3:12 pm

    when first reading this I really got upset but not for the same reasons as you did. I was actually upset with you for assuming that she was just depeding on her husband w/ a one account household. There are always 2 sides to a story and sometimes when you talk to a person in public the story is sometimes shaded and manipulated out of embarasment! I’n sure if she had some really tragic story and didn’t want it to be known to others she is going to play it up to a different aspect. perfect example is myself.. (why do i always go about telling all my stories to everyone. hell maybe it will help someone)! I’m not able to get a checking account! No matter how hard I try I will not be able to due to bounced checks. My name is permanently on Chexsystems and they will not do anything to take it off. Unfortunately the reason for the bounced checks was brought on by someone else. A junkie friend of my now ex boyfriends stole checks from me. They used them to buy over $300 of stuff and return them the next day to get cash. They also went and bought tons of cartons of cigarettes and gas all at my expense. They stole an old license of mine and the one girl looked pretty close to me! They did eventually catch up to them and they went to jail. GREAT!!! but it didn’t help me out at all. Chexsystems still to this day will NOT help me. So without a bank account (oh and I tried to get onto my boyfriends acct but they check you then also and they check you even when you get a savings acct now too!) I can’t get a debit card. so i have NO direct deposit, no acct, no card, no nothing.. My only savior was the prepaid visa/mastercards. I was able to get one of those just recently.

    So just remember that its now always what you see and the problems are much deeper… OR she could have a very demanding husband that is violent towards her and she is in denial! (i’ve been there too).

  8. Alexis Martin Neely on October 21, 2008 3:18 pm

    Right on!

    Sounds like this mom needs to listen in on one of my Mom’s Freedom calls. (

    Short of it: Mom, if you are not the breadwinner, you can/should be the Family CFO and take charge of your family’s finances.

    Let’s hope the lesson she learned today will get back in the driver’s seat. Pun intended. :)


  9. jennydecki on October 21, 2008 3:19 pm

    Wow. First off, I have real issues with people judging the lives of others. Because you don’t know everything about her life or why it’s set up that way. She may have rich parents that would take care of her if something happened. Who knows.

    What if she has friends or family in the area? Then she is one phone call away from someone coming to her rescue or aid. No credit or debit card required. If she is the member of a church she probably has even more local contacts if she gets in a scrape.

    Unless you ask her about contingency plans, financial history, and how that crazy marriage of hers works (I can’t imagine she’d be willing to share that much with you, but who knows.) Only then would you know enough to make an only somewhat inaccurate judgement regarding someone else’s relationship and life choices.

    Unless there is abuse or other illegal activity. (Just so you don’t think I’m THAT weird zealot. LOL)

  10. Pamela Reinsel Cotter on October 21, 2008 3:20 pm

    Hmm … maybe the SAHM should be the one taking care of all the family banking, and therefore, should be the one with the credit-card control.
    My husband likes to tell people that I’m the family CFO (and I work.) But, we do both have our own cards and credit history.

  11. Elaine Hanson on October 21, 2008 3:21 pm

    You nailed this one. One more thing about the fairy tale. So you stay married forever and ever, wonderful. What if, heaven forbid, hubby dies. Again, she does not exist. Grief is hard enough without red tape complications. I can admire keeping it simple, but not being unprepared for every possibility. At the very least, your child deserves it.

  12. Stacey on October 21, 2008 3:23 pm

    If nothing else, perhaps the vast inconvenience of this day’s happenings (4 hours worth of driving by at least one person and 4 hours of what should be unnecessary driving by another, or the same person depending on how they handled it) will give this family the idea that perhaps a second card, in her name, on the account, might be a good idea.

    Forget divorce, think about death. He dies unexpectedly. His name is the only one on the mortgage, on the utilities, on the credit cards and the bank accounts. Maybe she inherits the house, maybe not. Is there a will, do state laws give 2/3 of the money to the children if he is intestate? The cards close, the utilities are turned off. Maybe eventually she gets access to the accounts, in the meantime she has no credit to reestablish those accounts & no money to pay the security deposits for having no credit. The account is frozen awaiting judgment so the mortgage isn’t being paid. It’s a bad place to be in.

  13. Jonna on October 21, 2008 3:32 pm

    I can totally understand your frustration, just reading about it made me cringe at the thought.

    After reading some of the comments I can see some scenarios that I normally wouldn’t have thought of and for this poor woman’s sake, I hope that it is due to either past problems or her own choice and not her husband being a controlling jerk. Although, in some cases, I know people who need to have their credit cards forcibly taken from them!

    Regardless, I think it’s sweet that you care. Not too many people actually would allow something like this to bother them because they are too busy with their own life to give another person’s a second thought.

  14. Whitney on October 21, 2008 3:37 pm

    You said it perfectly- she is leaving herself in a very vulnerable position, both in case of an emergency, in case of divorce, and for future things like credit. This amount of dependence and ignorance is unhealthy at bst, controlling at worst, and dangerous.

  15. Queen of the Click on October 21, 2008 3:47 pm

    Ya know Matt, the situation is strange to me in several ways. It is very strange BUT maybe the Mom you met today was bad with credit cards and her husband doesn’t trust her with the card.

    I mean the woman herself should know that she needs a card in case of an emergency. And the Dad should have provided her with a card. Very strange.

    What’s also weird is that a person can rent a car online with a credit card and they don’t have to be present with the card to pick it up. Well, that’s true in NY anyway (no also Florida too).

    I have seen so many friends go through divorce where their husbands have cleared them out of money. The SAHM should have her own emergency stash and a spare card.

    Call her Matt! What’s the worst that can happen? She’ll hang up on you? Maybe she will take your advice since you are a Dad!

  16. Judy on October 21, 2008 3:56 pm

    Actually, I’m more perturbed at the lack of customer service at the dealership. If the woman was a long time customer who had purchased a car (or more than one car) there, they should have waived their credit card rules for her.

    I had a similar thing happen to me when I took my car in for service a few weeks back (just had my license with me as I was only going to pick up my loaner car and return home). When I told my service advisor I didn’t have a credit card or debit card with me he said “don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it. We know who you are.” Which is exactly what that service person should have done for that woman instead of telling her she was SOL and moving on to the next customer. Customer service sucks these days! And businesses wonder why they can’t build consumer loyalty?!

    As for finances, every single person has their own way of dealing with money based on their own personal beliefs. I couldn’t even begin to comment on the lady in the dealership. One thing I can say is that I’d be offended and annoyed if you called me to discuss what you overheard. No matter how much you said you were calling out of kindness and how pleasant a conversation we had earlier.

    The best thing you can do for her is to contact the service manager at the dealership and encourage them to implement a program where they keep a credit card on file for loaners – this way, next time she (and others like her) won’t have a problem!

  17. JeanAnnVK on October 21, 2008 4:43 pm

    Well, this bothers me, seriously. But first, let me say, I don’t know what this lady’s deal is…so I don’t want to pass blanket judgment. But let’s assume she just let’s her husband carry the cards. As a long time supporter of women’s rights, I am stressed to think that she has handed control of all of her financial doings to her husband. I am also upset that the husband let that happen. I am mad that the dude at the dealership didn’t act in a more compassionate manner.

    I am the breadwinner in my house, my partner is in school…so a lot of things are in my name…but we have divided it so one of us makes the money and the other manages it. Having a say in the finances is a HUGE deal in a relationship. It is very disempowering to not be treated like an equal…

    But I wouldn’t call her. She has her own row to hoe, and you yours…she has to live the consequences of her and her husband’s decision. And while it was an inconvenience, neither her or her daughter were in physical danger. And that is the great land that we live in…pursuit of happiness is defined very broadly.

  18. Sharon on October 21, 2008 4:59 pm

    Coming from the land of independence and parents demanding of us to be self-reliant as women…Its precarious not to have something on which to land. I’ve always had my own finances, married or not. I see both sides of the coin and have lived both sides.

  19. Amy @ Taste Like Crazy on October 21, 2008 5:09 pm

    First off, don’t contact her.

    You don’t know her and that would come across as creepy and though well intentioned, it’s not your place.

    You’re 100% correct though about her credit peril and that she should have a card in her own name for emergencies and unforeseen situations.

    I’m a WAHM and am self-employed so I don’t have to worry about falling off of the grid. But, I have several friends who stay at home, earn no income in their names and have no property in their names. They do not see their credit situation as an issue and that worries me.

    You’re right to be upset if for no other reason than it inspired you to write this and alert other people to an issue that they may never have thought of.

  20. Jill on October 21, 2008 5:12 pm


    I always had shitty credit and we always had a joint account. HIS credit cards that he had before we got married, I never had copies of, but had I asked, he would have gotten me one. I always had a debit card linked to OUR joint account, even when I was a SAHM. Now that I am on my own, when I am broke, my sister or my mother gives me a card FOR EMERGENCIES since I always have my daughter with me.

    She needs to wake up and grow some balls. Her husband needs to stop being such a controlling ass and realize the situation he leaves her in daily.

  21. Heidi @ Carolina Dreamz on October 21, 2008 5:14 pm

    You are so right.

    IF she was able to get all puffy with whomever, on her phone, she’s assertive, too.

    I had no assets and no income when I applied for my credit cards. I realized that I had no credit history and I did something about it. There is something, BIG, to be said about a credit score, today.

    Every one of my creditors would grant a card in another name, with limited information.. most just a name. I have one for my college-aged daughter.

    At the same time, that I was establishing this credit, however, I had a husband pissed off that I wasn’t asking permission to get a credit card.. so I know control, too.

    Everyone has to make their own way.. and be prepared for anything.. because you can wake up and find your fairy tale is just a big bunch of lies. (and I did.)

  22. Tara @ Feels like home on October 21, 2008 5:19 pm

    Let me first say that I try really hard not to judge others’ situations. I’m sure others look at me sometimes and think “why is she…” and disapprove.

    Now, having said that, I cannot imagine being without a means to support myself or get what I need. Whether I’m working or not, I want to be prepared for any emergency. I’m independent and I value independence. I think the lack of such means makes women overly dependent on the men in their lives, and it sets them up to be victims should those men take advantage of the situation. I think it’s unwise to say the least.

  23. Mrs. Tantrum on October 21, 2008 7:32 pm

    Okay, first off if the dealership is paying for the car the rental company DOES NOT NEED ANY FORM OF CREDIT ANYTHING from the lady, the agreement is between them and the dealership.

    Secondly she is INSANE for not having at least a Visa or Master Check card with her name on it.

    I am always amazed that there are still situations like this out there…where one of the partners has no clue about finances. (I have friends where the man is the one like that…so this isn’t limited to dumb women.) But then again I seem to be amazed by more and more lately, either I have been living in a very dark corner or the freaks are now coming out during the day and night.

  24. Linda on October 21, 2008 7:37 pm

    Well none of us know the true situation…but that being said, I would never, ever let anyone ‘control’ my situation. I know that in the event of any unthinkable situation I can take care of myself and my kids. In this day and age you HAVE to be able to do that–SAHM or not. If you are a SAHM, you better have a backup plan..because you just never know what life is going to throw at you. Every one of needs to be able to step up to the plate tomorrow and take over every aspect of our lives if need be. Just my two cents, but in my life those are the only ones that truly count.

  25. Anna B. on October 21, 2008 8:44 pm

    I totally agree with you – no one should rely 100% on someone for funds. This is why I will never be a SAHM without a credit or debit card to my name.

  26. Astacia on October 21, 2008 9:45 pm

    It is hard not to have strong feelings in this post-modern, post-feminist society. It makes me sad to see women who allow themselves to be in that situation. Then I have to remember a few thing:

    1) It’s easy to blame things on your spouse when he or she is not there.

    2) She may be bad with money and have a lack of self-control when it comes to credit cards. This is why I don’t carry one.

    3) There are millions of women who let themselves be ruled by men because of religious reasons or just plain laziness.


  27. Singlegal on October 22, 2008 8:09 am

    there’s absolutely no reason why a second credit card couldn’t be issued in her name. I sense a control issue there …

  28. What’s this Twitter Taste Live stuff? - A Good Time With Wine on October 22, 2008 11:59 am

    [...] sensitive to that, which is why my other blog, Babbling About Nothing, has a great post about Stay At Home Moms, or finances in a relationship in general. I try to offer something for everyone. I’m the Baskin-Robbins of blogging, 31 flavors to [...]

  29. Gregg on October 22, 2008 6:16 pm

    I’m on the side that you may be reading too much into this one. Many people have problems with credit cards and over-spending. While someone in the family at least needs to have credit for emergencies, if they are doing credit counseling, many will not let them have credit cards!

    Also, perhaps the woman understands a spending weakness and therefore doesn’t carry a card on purpose. I’m surprised the car rental place doesn’t take cards over the phone, but I haven’t used one in a while and can’t remember if they needed to see my credit card again to pick up an online reservation, or not. I didn’t think they did. Drivers license, yes.

    Also, she shouldn’t have needed a credit card at all if the dealer was paying! That’s crazy. When our new car developed a problem, the dealer drove us to the rental place and the car was on their account. We didn’t use a card, either.

  30. Shannon Davis - Beyondmotherhood on October 24, 2008 7:12 am

    I agree with your frustrations, and would be curious to hear her side of the story. The true reason why they are a “one credit card” family. Does she have bad credit? Is her husband controlling? Is she living with her head in the sand…not wanting to educate herself or her child about money?

    It’s situations like this that confirm the need to add basic personal economics to the required course list in high schools. So many students (men and women) head to college with little or no knowledge of how to manage their personal finances…and end up getting deep into credit card debt. Then they carry that debt into marriage and parenthood.

  31. jcruz on Twitter on October 24, 2008 2:46 pm

    Who am I to judge or say what is right and wrong for this lady? If this is what makes their relationship a loving and lasting one so be it. All because it doesn’t work for you, doesn’t make it wrong. Different strokes for different folks.

  32. Amber (jerseymomma) on October 28, 2008 12:56 am

    I’m not sure what her situation is, so it’s hard to make a call on this one.

    I do understand the need for rental car companies, hotels, etc. to want collateral or to be guaranteed payment- but I think its wrong to punish someone that wants to pay in cash.

    And although she should have a debit card in her own name, I tried to rent a car in Ohio last month and was told debit cards are not accepted- credit only.

    I wouldn’t contact her though. If she hadn’t gotten the wake-up call before now that she needed to take control of her finances, im sure the inconvenience of being denied a car and having to drive back home did the trick!

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