2012 Meets the 1950’s

Today’s stage is set for the I Love Lucy show. A devoted wife and mother Lucy didn’t work but depended on Ricky, her star performer husband to bring home the bacon. Lucy longed for the chance to be a star and if she were here today maybe even a credit card.

The sad truth is that she wouldn’t be able to get one. Why? Well because of the Credit CARD Act of 2009. The act which was meant to protect people has put stay at home mom’s at arm’s length from applying for credit.

In an effort to help students applying for credit from getting in to deep, the law requires those under 21 to either list their own income, or get a co-signer. Now without an actual income source stay at home moms are unable to obtain credit either, even though they purchase the majority of the household’s items.

Women Speak Out

The act has many stay at home mom’s in uproar, so much so that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is reviewing a clause in the CARD Act that all but eliminates any chance for stay-at-home spouses to apply for credit,

Holly McCall, a 34 year-old stay-at-home mom of two, denied credit, started a petition on change.org that has more than 30,000 signatures, many from women just like her. They want the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to change the Credit CARD Act.

The Work Around

Since obtaining credit on your own as a stay at home mom proves difficult if not impossible it is important to sure up your credit in other ways in the event of “what if’s.”

  • Start your own savings account. Having an emergency fund is important for everyone, especially someone that isn’t working outside of the home. Be honest with your partner about your feelings towards each of you have your own savings accounts.
  • Take out a joint loan. Oftentimes mortgages and car loans can include both partners. As long as payments are made on time the credit history will bode in your favor.
  • A joint credit card. Just make sure the minimums are paid on time and pay the balances off when you can.
  • A secured credit card. These cards are a way to build credit. Downfalls include you a $200 deposit on the card and annual fees.
  • Check your credit score. Once you reach a certain point you may be able to obtain an unsecured card with a low credit limit. Use it to buy gas and groceries then pay the balance in full each month. You will be establishing a history of responsible credit use.
  • Laws in your favor. If you live in a community property state, (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin), the stay-at-home spouse may legally claim her spouse’s income as her own.

It is a shame that in 2012 we are dealing with a law that sounds like it came from a 1950’s rule book. With careful planning and some ingenuity you can still establish credit—just remember to be responsible with it and avoid getting into debt.

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