I know this is a finance post, but before I jump into giving you a checklist for financial steps to take before and during divorce, I first want to say: Stay positive and remember you WILL get out of this. Positivity can carry you further than you’d ever imagine when the chips are down. It’s good for your brain, your body and your soul. When those are all aligned, the financial steps become a non-emotional step in the process.
With that said, whether you’re thinking about divorce or breaking-up or you’ve started the process, remember that it’s not too late to start thinking about how to set yourself up for financial security, and the security of your family. Here are the Top 5 Things I recommend anyone in a potential life transition take a look at:
1. Your relationship with your own finances. Are you comfortable talking about your financial situation with a few close people in your life? It’s a super hard step, but finding someone you trust to be able to say “I need help” or “I don’t know where to start with my new budget” will come in so handy down the road. Whether it’s a professional financial planner focused on helping women or just your BFF that can hold your hand as you figure out where all your money is going.
2. Insurance. I get it, insurance is something that none of us like paying for because we’re not really getting anything substantial to show for it. Not a new pedicure, a cute bag or the newest toy for your daughter. You literally are just paying a company for the promise to cover you should something happen to your car, your home, your wrist or, God forbid, your life. Guess what feels worse than not having anything to show for that money you just shelled out? The sense of regret when something finally does happen and you now have sleepless night after sleepless night wishing that you took some time to purchase your coverage. Life, Health and Property insurance. Make sure you have all 3. There are so many varieties of all of them out there so there is no reason to say, ‘It’s not for me’.
3. Your earning potential. We all have the potential to earn money and spend each day adding to what we received the day before. This might be in a corporate job that requires you to complete processes, reports or strategize the company’s next move. It might be you sell items you make on Etsy and your local artisan shop, or might be that you offer your services to others in a specialized way. Whatever it is, these are your earnings; your income and your ways to get the other things you want and need in life. We sometimes might have to adjust the management of these opportunities to make more one month to save for a divorce lawyer, or might need to cut back hours to focus on the health of ourselves. Whatever it is, identify your income sources and even the openings to earn more.
4. The flow of money. All that hard earned money—where did it go? I just had it a minute ago. Oh wait, I just bought new ballet shoes for my daughter. No wait, I had to pay the court fee for my latest filing, my internet bill and pizza for dinner last night because I didn’t have time to run to the grocery store and make dinner. Why would you work so hard to pull all that money in to only just throw it out the window before it had a chance to get cozy in your wallet? Use that adage of ‘it takes a month to make a habit’ to your benefit to really watch where all your earnings are going. I’m not asking you to keep track of every little penny for the rest of your life, but take 30 days and really focus on seeing how quickly we lose sight on what we are spending. Then make adjustments. Cut your cable, downsize your care, get a Tall instead of a Grande (I promise, I won’t tell you to do without it for 30 days).
5. It’s a new normal. For the time being. Don’t worry, things change. Reevaluate, what you need to buy right now. You’d be surprised how much you can really live without when you think about it. Let’s face it, we all say “I really only need my family and friends to make me happy”. Put it to the test. This is the perfect time of your life to do that. Invite people over for dinner at your place instead of going out. Arrange to meet up for a walk at lunchtime instead of at the restaurant. Buy a journal and right down how much you hate your ex instead of spending money on a shopping binge on stuff you’re going to hate it 22 days. These events happen in our lives that force us to rethink who we want to be and how we conduct our lives.
These events are always stressful. I’ve yet to find a way around it. Being vulnerable is not a comforting feelings. Neither is ending a relationship. Give yourself a fighting chance of surviving both by checking off some non-emotional steps to get you closer to the next, even better chapter.