I needed a new car.

Okay, that’s not exactly true. I wanted a new car.

I live in a town where I rarely use my vehicle. In five minutes, I can walk to my favorite grocery store, restaurants I love, several shops I buy everything I need, a drug store, and even the post office. There’s even a movie theater. And if that isn’t enough, we have a community arts center where they put on fabulous plays.

In other words, I walk everywhere.

But I wanted a new car. And I wanted to buy it all by myself.

So I walked into a local dealer, found what I was looking for, plunked down what I needed to secure the loan … and was denied.

What!?

I’ve been married for over 30 years. We married young, right out of college. And because we were kids, we shared everything. Same checking accounts. Same investments. Our names are together on everything.

And quite honestly, I never thought much about it. We live a good life, and I get pretty much everything I want. (I’m not bragging, just setting the stage.) How we pay for it has never been a big deal.

But that denial was my wakeup call.

I’ve structured my business in such a way that the car dealer didn’t recognize my worth. And without the standard checkmarks that go along with a standard “job,” they considered me a risk.

That scared me to my core.

Older women are twice as likely as older men to live on their own. In 2010, 72 percent of older men lived with a spouse compared with only 42 percent of older women.

What if I’m one of those statistics someday?

I knew I had to do something about it. So I set out to separate myself from my husband, to be able to stand on my own two feet.

I Love My Husband

I do. We’ve been together for 33 years this summer.

But facts are facts. And right now, women live to different standards than men.

It’s reported all the time that women only make 80 cents to the dollar when compared to a man. Yes, women are catching up. But once they get there, how they handle the income they receive is different too.

Women don’t invest at the same rate as men. We park as much as 71 percent of our money in cash. And if it’s not there working for us, it won’t be there when we need it most.

I’m talking to you, married women

When you’re single, you face building up your own financial house by yourself every day. You get paid. You set up bank accounts. You rent or buy a home. You get your own credit cards. You lease or buy your own cars.

But when you’ve been married “forever” the way I have, you tend to forget life without being a party of two. You do everything together because – you’ve always done everything forever.

We’ve always been “married filing jointly.”

We bought houses together. All of our cars have been in both of our names. Credit cards? Yep, we get them together. Same with checking accounts, investments. Everything.

And neither one of us really thought much about it.

I decided to try for my own auto loan just to see if I could. I’d been reading a lot about women and money, and wanted to see where I stood.

My husband did all the research. Honestly, I’m not much of a car person. I can barely distinguish between a sedan and a crossover – I just don’t care that much about them. So I asked his opinion, and with the decision made, I was off to buy my first car as a single – just me.

You know how that went. So I set up a plan to ensure that would never happen to me again.

Start building my own credit

The first thing I did was to start setting up accounts just for me. I now have a personal checking and savings account. I’ve opened up several credit cards in my name only.

And I’m conscious of how I use them. With the credit cards, I charge quite a bit on them. I also pay them off. The purpose isn’t to add more debt to our household. I’m just in this to make the credit agencies see me as a credit-worthy person.

Higher income

Income says it all when you’re trying for big things like houses and cars. As an entrepreneur, I have a two-tiered strategy for moving forward.

The first is to make more money with my business. Income equals more freedom. This is a no brainer.

My second is to build it stronger, bigger, to handle all of my goals for the future. I’ve recently invested in a mastermind program put on by Tony Robbins and Dean Grazioso. I’m in it to win it. And I truly believe that if you want to succeed, you have to invest in yourself through education, and surrounding yourself who are where you choose to be. Tony and Dean are, so I want to be near them. It’s as simple as that.

Wherever you are, you have to make money on your own. If you have to, get a part-time job. Look at finding work from home positions that will give you the freedom you need. And if you’re really ready to play big, I would highly recommend starting your own business. There’s never been a better (or easier) time. Especially for us ladies!

Then invest like a woman

I didn’t stop with the checking account and the credit cards and making more money. I also chose to start investing all for me.

Honestly, there isn’t a good reason not to. I don’t get affiliate money or a kickback or make out in any way by telling you about Ellevest. But I love her mission, so I write about it.

Sallie Krawcheck is the CEO of Ellevest, a female-driven investment firm working to change the investment landscape for women. She’s worked for the big name investment firms Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney, and saw first hand how that level of investing was “for men, by men.” So she set out to change it.

She teaches you through weekly emails on how to understand money and be a better investor. And you don’t have to deposit thousands to get started. With their digital platform, you can invest what’s right for you. Set up a monthly plan based on what you can afford – even $25 starts you out in the right direction.

I hope I’m never one of the statistics. I love my husband very much, and we’re having the time of our lives here in our fifties.

But I’m much more comfortable now knowing I have a solid financial plan in place, and without a doubt I know I can do things on my own, if I ever need to.

It also is a comfort to my husband. He knows how important it is for me to survive and thrive for the “just in case.”