Why Every Stay-At-Home Mom Should Own A Business, Any Business

If all of this year’s financial news from the Fed, congress and White House
seems too big and uncontrollable for a lot of us, here’s something that hits a
little closer to home.  New financial regulations
of the CARD Act of 2009, Regulation Z, will go into place in October 2011, and
one of them prohibits financial institutions from giving credit cards to people
who do not have documented individual sources of income.  Although it
was originally proposed to ensure students weren’t saddled with consumer debt
through aggressive marketing, the wording was expanded to include any individual without documented
income.  Sounds like a good idea,
right?  Not so fast.  The fallout is that non-employed spouses will
no longer be able to use their household income to qualify for

Who cares?  Stay-at-home moms and mister-moms
should.  The National
Retail Federation
said the rule “undermines more than a generation of
progress” since passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Because of
this rule alone, a woman should consider starting up her own business,
whether it is a primary or side pursuit.


There are many reasons to own a business in this country,
including tax advantages, continued professional development, schedule flexibility,
and income potential.  This new rule is one more reason for a mom to
have a business, even a teeny-tiny one, that documents profitable income. The
rule does not specify a minimum required income, but not having any documented
income is a show stopper when it comes to securing credit.  For all types of small businesses, including
home-party consultants, part-time blogger moms, retail store owners,
professional consultants, and more, a Schedule C or corporate tax return is the
documentation the credit issuers require.


“We’re not sure at all how this is going to work in
practice,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory
said. “Since most stay-at-home spouses are women, this could put
women back more than 20 years in terms of their access to credit.” 


I was married and divorced nearly twenty years ago, I went
through a rocky time personally that nearly ruined my credit. I believe
that this provision takes us back even further than twenty years.  We
forget that stay-at-home spouses have economic value in our society, even
though they don’t receive a paycheck.  A non-employed spouse should have
access to credit throughout their marriage so they don’t incur financial
hardship should death, illness, abuse or divorce markedly change their
status after years, sometimes decades, of partnership.  Family tragedies
are difficult enough without removing access to credit, an undeniable necessity
of modern life in America. 
Even those who live debt-free have a credit score.  Having a favorable credit history is as
important as having a job.  Credit doesn’t just mean credit cards, but is
required for basic social functions such as the ability to rent property, buy a
car, or establish phone service.  


Many women make major changes to their employment status
when they are pregnant or shortly after having a baby.  Many educated and
talented women step off a professional cliff when they start a family,
potentially creating unintended financial consequences for themselves and their
families.  But starting a family can also be a great time to start
something new professionally.  A business
that a mom runs during naptime or school hours can be rewarding and more economically
beneficial than just a positive profit and loss statement. A business also can
be a woman’s ticket to financial independence. 
With her own income, she no longer depends on her spouse to include her
on a credit account. 


Moms put others first in so many ways, but when staying
at home to raise children means you give up your own financial identity,
that’s just wrong.  


Since last March when this rule was finalized, there appears
to have been little progress on correcting this language to mitigate the impact
on families and women.  The best thing we
can do is be aware of our options, and owning a business is certainly one of
them. Add this new law to the list of reasons for a woman to have and maintain
a business before, during, and after baby. 




More sources:





Originally published in Kalamazoo Parent magazine, October 2011

Stay At Home Parents Can Kiss Their Credit Goodbye with No Paycheck

After an article I wrote appeared in Kalamazoo Parents magazine, a stay-at-home dad contacted me because he was mad mad mad about the recent changes curtailing financial rights of non-employed parents.  Did the fed regulations on the CARD ACT of 2009 really update in October 2011 to say that stay-at-home parents without income really have no access to credit?  Here’s what I found.

The information is buried pretty well, but the original reference is here: http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/bcreg/20101019a.htm . One of the major provisions of the CARD Act of 2009 was to limit the marketing and credit that could be targeted to college students, who are largely without income.  However, the clarified language expanded the
provision to be of concern to anyone without their own independent income or assets.  See the third bullet in the Fed’s press release:

When evaluating a consumer’s ability to make the required payments
before opening a new credit card account or increasing the credit limit on an
existing account, card issuers must consider information regarding the
consumer’s independent income, rather than his or her household income.

 If you really want to read into it, check out the HRML or PDF link at the bottom of this press release, right about in the middle, where it states:

“The Board generally intended Sec.  226.51 to establish consistent standards for evaluating a consumer’s ability to pay. Specifically, Sec.  226.51 requires that card issuers establish and maintain reasonable written policies and procedures to consider the income or assets and the current obligations of all consumers, regardless of age.

See Sec.  226.51(a)(1)(ii), (b)(1)(i), and (b)(2)(ii)(B). For all consumers, a card issuer must consider either the ratio of debt obligations to income, the ratio of debt obligations to assets, or the income the consumer will have after paying debt obligations. See id. Furthermore, regardless of a consumer’s age, (emphasis added) it would be unreasonable for
a card issuer not to review any information about a consumer’s income, assets, or current obligations, or to issue a credit card to a consumer who does not have any income or assets. See id. Some card issuers request on application forms that applicants simply provide their “income,” while other issuers request that applicants provide their “household income.” The Board understands that there has been some confusion as to whether information provided by a consumer in response to a request for household income can be used by a card issuer to satisfy the requirements of Sec.  226.51. In particular, the Board understands that there has been some uncertainty as to whether Sec.  226.51 established different standards for underage consumers and other consumers with respect to the consideration of household income or assets. There appear to be three sources of this confusion.

First, the Board understands that some of the uncertainty regarding household income results from the fact that, in the February 2010 Final Rule, the Board expressly concluded that the income of an underage consumer’s spouse could not be used to satisfy the requirements of Sec.  226.51(b) but did not state a similar conclusion with respect to the general rule in Sec.  226.51(a). See 75 FR 7723. However, the issue of spousal or other household income was not addressed in the context of Sec.  226.51(a) because it was not raised during the comment period.  Accordingly, the Board is addressing the issue in this rulemaking.” 

This rule was tacked onto the previously passed CARD Act after a comment period that expired January 3, 2011, and then the rule passed.  So this was a done deal.  You can
read for yourself the current language in the CARD Act.  You can clearly see that the language was expanded to say any consumer, not just those under 21.

By the way, there are a ton of books on the market, and mine is just one of them, encouraging moms to start and run a professional business from wherever they live.  Although it might feel a bit odd for dads to read these books, they’ve got many of the same issues.  If you are very fired up about this issue (and I hope you are!), let me encourage you to protect your turf with a business if you choose.  If not, that’s cool, too.  We have so many option these days to protect our families and our professional selves, that we really are blessed. 

Resources for New Moms

Kelly McBride of Belly Pilates in Philadelphia has hit on a great idea…a series of free workshops covering a huge range of topics important to pregnant women, new moms, and their families.  Check it out here.  Even if you miss the series, looking at the list of topics covered might give you ideas on how to find resources for the issues you are noodling through.

Click here to see the video of Resources for New Moms , highlighting www.bellypilates.com.

Stay Healthy During Pregnancy

When you are a pregnant entrepreneur, you don’t have time to be sick.  You’re on a schedule, and if youskip a beat, how will you ever be ready for your baby?  That’s one deadline that you can’t possbily miss, and you might even need to put the breaks on ahead of schedule!

Before kids, I never thought about things like getting a flu shot.  But during pregnancy, my docs highly recommended I get the flu shot, especially since we were dealing with the dreaded Swine Flu (or H1N1) the year I was pregnant with my firstborn.  

“Flu is a terribly uncomfortable illness at best, and for many it can be life-threatening,” says Andrea Hanaway, M.D., board-certified Emergency Medicine physician and PriorityCare’s medical director. “Getting a flu shot truly is one of the easiest things people can do to stay healthy this winter.”

The flu is caused by various influenza viruses. Symptoms include fever, coughing, sore throat, aches, chills and fatigue. Most healthy people recover without problems, but people 65 and over, pregnant women, young children and people with chronic health conditions are at higher risk for serious complications and even death.

If you are already a mom, you probably know that your kids are the shortest distance between you and an illness.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone at least 6 months old be vaccinated against seasonal flu. The CDC also says that children ages 6 months to 8 years who did not get at least one dose of the 2010-2011 flu vaccine should get two doses of the vaccine this season. According to the CDC, October is the best month to receive a flu vaccination.  

Healthy Pregnancy with a Flu Shot

For those who don’t have timely access to a physician’s office, PriorityCare is the perfect location for high-quality, expedient and cost-effective flu vaccination. Flu vaccinations
are available daily, without an appointment at PriorityCare locations at Wind Gap and Bethlehem from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Both offices are staffed by a physician, nurses and an X-ray technician.



PriorityCare is a network of urgent care
centers providing quality, convenient, cost-effective medical care for
non-emergency illnesses and injuries, as well as occupational health,
preventive and wellness services including physicals, drug testing, and
vaccinations. For more information about PriorityCare, please visit www.prioritycare.net


Copyright (c) <a href=’http://www.123rf.com’>123RF Stock Photos</a>

First Trimester Entrepreneur

I got a call recently from a colleague with great news…she’s pregnant! But she’s also exhausted and worried about the business. She wanted to know how she’ll make it through without tanking the business she spent the last five years building. The good news is that the first trimester is often the hardest for many women. Oddly, the second trimester actually brings a surplus of energy for many. So taking care of yourself, napping when possible, and doing what you can to keep the business rolling, you’ll soldier on until you hit the second trimester, and then you can put some extra energy into planning the rest of your pregnancy and your first few months with your newborn. When I shared all of this with my friend, she was very relieved. She called me just a few weeks later letting me know that she was tackling new projects. You go, girl!

The Submission- Book Review

If you are over the age of 30 and if you were awake on 9.11.01, you can probably pinpoint where you were on that awful day.  You might also be able to point to certain actions in your life that are a direct result of what happened to you and how you felt in the wake of 9-11.  A lot of us shifted or changed course entirely on that day.  I can honestly say that my journey to becoming an entrepreneur, and subsequently a pregnant entrepreneur, started that day. 

That day I decided that my north Jersey work location was too close to New York, that I really was doing a thankless job that would not leave the world better, and that maybe it was time to possibly think about perhaps considering to start a family that had more two-footed people in it, and not just four-footed children.  I started prioritizing differently.

The Submission image from Amazon

I hadn’t really thought about reading a fictional account of the events until I heard about The Submission by Amy Waldman.  The book is superb and worth a read.  For a first novel, she really tackles a big topic.  The book starts two years after the attacks and follows a handful of families on all sides of the issues surrounding a monument being chosen to stand at Ground Zero.  When the architect of the monument surfaces as a muslim, albeit a non-practicing one, the firestorm starts. The characters are very believable, mirroring actual politcal figures.  Event the event could have been inspired by the real life group who wanted to build a mosque close to the site.

What kept me reading was the desire to see America turn out OK.  I wanted to know that people could work through their fear, distrust and ignorance to arrive at the America that we imagine we are.  The America who accepts the poor and tired teaming on her shores.  The America who prizes religious freedom for all, not just those who sit beside us in church.  Ms. Waldman does a wonderful job of developing the situation into the complex, messy situation that it is.  The champions change course.  The downtrodden really does have an agenda, even if he doesn’t know it.  The spokesperson for the issue, who has influence she never intended, is someone that no one at all elected.  In the end, success comes despite the turmoil, but not in a satisfactory way. 

I wanted to see America turn out OK.  I’m still not sure if it did.  But I’m sure that those who are earnest enough to read this book are the same people who will be thoughtful about how they spend their time, what they do to shape their family, and how they think about the dark-skinned person standing next to them at the airport next time. 

If you still have time for a fictional read, The Submission is a good pick.