Join me in welcoming Helga Hayse to Highlighted Author
Helga Hayse educates people on the role that money plays in family relationships. She leads workshops on financial intimacy for couples and between parents and children. She writes and speaks from the heart, leading people through her personal experience with transforming pain into regenerative legacy between generations. Helga is a popular guest on radio, television and internet talk shows discussing the role of money in families and marriage.
Her books include “Don’t Worry About a Thing, Dear” – Why Women Need Financial Intimacy which chronicles the author’s experience of suddenly being widowed but being prepared with the financial and emotional tools to rebuild her life, and “Reconstructing Aphrodite”, a compilation of personal narratives of breast cancer survivors published by Syracuse University Press.
Welcome, Helga. Please tell us about yourself and your featured book, “Don’t Worry about a Thing, Dear” – Why Women Need Financial Intimacy.
A year before I was widowed, I created “A Wife’s Guide to Financial Savvy,” a seminar to teach women about the need for their financial participation in their marriage. I was married to a businessman in California, a community property state. My name was on all the company documents, thus making me responsible for all financial obligations the company had, even though I had no decision making power.
Just as I was launching the seminar in the public arena, my husband died suddenly in a traumatic accident. The information I had researched to teach other women helped save my life.
I wrote “Don’t Worry about a Thing, Dear” – Why Women Need Financial Intimacy to help wives in community property states protect their financial interests in case of divorce or widowhood. Too many women are vulnerable to financial hardship because they have not participated in their marriage finances. I show women why they should participate, how they can, what they need to know and plan for and how to encourage their husband to create a financially intimate marriage.
My background is Investigative Journalism. I was a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News and a freelancer for a wide variety of publications. In researching this subject, and interviewing over 100 women, I realized the lack of transparency in marital finances harms women more than men. This book is designed to even out the playing field.
What they’re saying:
“As a clergy person who delights in performing weddings and counseling I was thrilled to read this book. I now give it to all my couples as their first wedding present. I urge them to read the book together, fill in the checklists with the appropriate information to share attitudes about money and to seek answers to those things they do not understand or agree upon…. I urge other clergy to read and recommend Ms Hayse’s book. Her style is direct and understandable. It is immediate and clearly heartfelt. She takes away the mystery surrounding the topic of finances and, through her own compelling story, encourages all to become familiar with the steps to financial intimacy.”— Ellen Schwab, Cantor, Peninsula Temple Beth El
“Every woman should read this book – it is an easy read and extremely informative. I am amazed at how many successful women I know (some with higher-paying jobs than their husbands), trust their husbands to handle all their financial affairs without full knowledge of the situation…. As a former banker, I can tell you Helga’s advice is sound. On a personal note, her way of educating you is encouraging and motivating. You will not be disappointed in this book.”— Cathy Keys, Project Manager, Oracle Corporation
“Helga Hayse weaves together her own personal story with sage advice for women on taking an active role in their own financial future. She has a great writing style that’s easy to read, but doesn’t talk down to the reader. Her recommendations are thoughtful, and include some good general tips on how to have a meaningful and productive conversation with your husband. This is a great book that’s worth getting, and worth holding on to.”— Dr. Scott Haltzman, Author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Men”
Helga interviewed on Better.tv
How well are you prepared?
Take Helga’s 1 minute Financial Intimacy Quiz
“Don’t Worry about a Thing, Dear”
If you’re married or intend to be, this book will act as your guide to achieving financially open marriage. You’ll learn step-by-step how to protect yourself against the financial consequences of divorce or widowhood.
Financial intimacy in marriage is not about trust. It’s about being a well-informed partner who understands the total financial picture between you and your fiancée or husband. The law says you’re entitled to this information. This book will teach you how to get it.
Why I Wrote This Book
“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.”
I loved my husband and suffered agonizing trauma and loss after he died suddenly in an accident. But after the early years of sharp grief subsided and I began to pick up the pieces of my life, I started to think of him as a more idealized version of the man I married than as the man he actually was. After many false starts writing this book with that idealized image in mind, I realized I hadn’t been emotionally honest with others, or myself, about the relief I felt to be free of the financial pressures — and resentments — I often experienced in our marriage.
These years of being on my own have allowed me to live life without the distorting filter of my husband’s preferences and dreams. But without the financial preparation I completed — some on my own, some with my husband — my life would have been dramatically different. I would never have recovered financially from the burden of his death. I would never have forgiven him for risking my future safety to achieve his dreams. And I might have felt guilty forever for all the things I hadn’t shared with him.
Today, I would never allow someone to make financial decisions for me without discussing the consequences of those actions first. I would insist on understanding anything I sign – a contract, an income tax return, a letter of intent — that would obligate me financially. But I wasn’t like that during my two marriages. The first ended in divorce; the second ended in death.
Like so many other women I know, my marriage had a public face and a private face. It endured because of protective fictions on my part that ate away at me slowly, but steadily. I realize now how those fictions enabled the relationship to function.
My personal story is a backdrop against which to frame a larger and more widespread problem that exists for millions of women in the United States: the lack of understanding and participation in marital finances. Our willingness to let our husband handle the finances in the marriage impacts our own financial safety and our ability to cope in the event of widowhood or divorce.
That’s just what I did. I assumed that my husband was smarter about money than I was and that he had my best interests at heart. In retrospect, it’s clear that he was doing what he wanted to do – build his business, hope it would be successful, and, in that way, serve both our interests. What he failed to do, and what I didn’t know I should do until my own realization about financial intimacy, was build in the protections for me if things didn’t go according to plan. As it so happened, nothing went according to plan.
I’m not unique. Like many of you, I confused money with love and didn’t understand that the institution of marriage removes your financial autonomy. Whatever else it may mean emotionally, a marriage license is first and foremost a contract of partnership recognized by the state as a legally binding agreement. Once you say, “I Do”, you are one-half of a legal and financial entity. From that point on, whatever your husband is doing, or intends to do financially, whether you know about it or not, you are, or will be, doing it, too. The same holds true for your husband. But if he is the one who is controlling your marital finances, you are the one at risk. You’re the one for whom I’m writing this book.
Oddly enough, in most states, it’s easier to get married than it is to buy a gun or get a driver’s license. For the gun, you must wait 10 days, or whatever the law is in your state, while the authorities run identity checks on you. A 16-year-old can get a driver’s license after passing a written and driving test. The authorities can revoke either the permit for the gun or the driver’s license if you engage in illegal behavior.
In my county in California, you can get married within 30 minutes of applying for a marriage license. What does it take? Bride and groom have to be there, show an official ID such as a driver’s license or a passport, and pay $78 (cash only) for the license. No blood test is required. No questions asked. No skills evaluated. No competency demonstrated. No background check instigated. In other words, the state makes it appallingly easy to get married – and miserably complicated to work your way through the financial consequences of widowhood or divorce.
That’s why money – understanding it and being able to talk about it in a conscious, responsible and respectful way – is as important to your marriage as sex, romance and love. We lavish our attention on the latter three – and assume that money will just take care of itself. It doesn’t.
The sad truth is that going into marriage, it’s all about love. Coming out of it, either through widowhood or divorce, it’s all about money.
In this book, I’m not going to give you detailed or complicated legal or financial advice. My goal is to alert you to your rights in marriage and how those rights are compromised by romantic fictions about marriage. I hope that after reading through the chapters, you will seek expert legal and financial advice for the actions you need to take to protect you if something happens to end your marriage.
Get your copy of “Don’t Worry about a Thing, Dear” at Amazon.
Connect with Helga Hayse! Here’s where you can find her: