Ahhhh, money and emotions…
They are complicated topics, and divorce can make them more complicated (and vice versa). Luckily, I have some healthy divorce tips for you to help ensure that you and your family are safeguarded financially and emotionally during and after your divorce.
1. Take Care of Yourself
Every day is busy, but the most important thing to take care of first is always yourself. You are your best asset! Eat right, get plenty of sleep, and take steps to reduce stress through exercise, meditation, and/or yoga. It’s also important to reach out to others for support. Spend time with friends doing activities you enjoy. Reach out to a therapist who specializes in divorce and/or join a divorce recovery group, if necessary.
2. Create a Budget that Matches Your and Your Children’s New Life
Divorce affects everyone, including your children. It’s important to adjust to these changes. Take the time to figure out your new budget, and don’t forget to factor in alimony, child support, and any debt.
3. Create and Live a Life You Love
This is the stepping stone to the next chapter of your life! You have an opportunity to reinvent yourself. Your inner peace, self-image, and confidence determine your success. Remember that this is a chance to empower yourself and that you deserve to let go of the past and accomplish your dreams. Practice positive thinking and educate yourself by reading motivational quotes and books.
4. Create a Savings Plan that Matches Your and Your Children’s New Life
There may be challenges along the way, and while that’s perfectly normal, it’s important to plan with those challenges in mind. There are a few key questions you should ask yourself. If you receive alimony, does it end in a certain number of years? How much does it cost to maintain a household as a solo entity? Have you moved to a new tax rate bracket?
Keep retirement in mind. Evaluate your employment and savings options and invest, even if it’s a small amount each month; you can increase your savings gradually over time. Contribute at least up to any employer’s 401(k) match. If that’s not available, set up an IRA. You also may be able to set up a ROTH IRA, depending on your income, or a SEP IRA if you are self-employed or working at an S-Corp or LLC.
5. Build a New Social Life
Old friends are supportive and know you well, but you may want to meet new people who understand exactly what you’re going through. Connect and build friendships with other divorcees. If you have children, connect with other single parents so that your kids learn there are others in the same situation. Engage in activities that you enjoy, such as dining out, dancing, cooking, wine tasting, sports and volunteer work. Become a member of different groups through Meetup, and check out activities on Eventbrite or the Boston Event Guide – you may connect with someone through a shared interest, or discover a new hobby and talent. Vesta has several Meetup groups: 1) HOPE for Single Parents; 2) Divorce Support; and 3) Boston Wing Women.
6. Feel Confident About Your Future with Estate Planning and Beneficiary Designations
Update your will and financial account beneficiaries so it spells out who receives your assets, an executor to manage your last wishes, and guardians for your children. Make sure you have a healthcare proxy and durable power of attorney. Designate someone in advance that you trust to carry out your medical wishes. These changes should be notarized and prepared by an estate planning attorney.
7. Stay Organized
This is usually something more easily said than done, isn’t it? With finances, staying organized should always be a top priority. Make copies of important documents: tax returns, banking and investment statements, insurance policies, loan and lease documents, and marriage and birth certificates. Make sure that your name is on all marital assets prior to filing for divorce. There are a lot of steps to divorce, but it is essential you learn how to prioritize. Taking the most important tasks and breaking them up into small chunks can make goals seem more manageable and will give you a sense of purpose and a continuous feeling of success.
8. Remember – You Love Your Children More than You Dislike (or Even Hate) Your Ex!
You may not like your ex-spouse, but at least one great thing came out of your marriage: your children. To you, your ex may seem like an enemy right now, but to your children, they are their parent. Consider individual and/or couple’s therapy. It is important to remain amicable by setting aside hurt and anger. Never put kids in the middle or use them as messengers, and always stress to your kids that you love them and that the divorce is not their fault. Be flexible with each other regarding parenting schedules and styles, and if possible, live near your ex.
This can be a strange and difficult time for your children. Try to maintain some consistency with their current life through school, friends, and sports. Talk to teachers and pediatricians about the change in your children’s lives. It may be helpful to consult with a child therapist.
9. Seek Professional Guidance of a Financial Professional
This is essential in all stages of divorce, both prior to arriving at a divorce settlement and also post-divorce. Finances include a lot of details and processes that most of us are not familiar with or even aware of! A financial advisor can help assess a financially equitable settlement, show the financial impact of different settlement options, help ensure that you are protected (i.e. life insurance, as well as disability income and long-term care insurance to cover support payments), and discover any potential hidden assets. A financial consultant will be an important resource as your guide and trusted educator for planning for the future as well. They can help to determine and achieve financial goals and objectives, navigate through changing markets, taxes and life stages, and provide a lesson in budgeting/help to prepare a budget.
10. Remember – Things WILL get Better
Expect that divorce to be a roller coaster ride. Feelings towards your ex and the divorce can shift from anger, hurt, and disbelief, all the way to feelings of relief and a sense of liberation and adventure..sometimes all in the same day! And it is not a linear process. Never be afraid to ask for help and always be assertive and clear about what you want. And ease up on yourself. Let go of the past. To move on, forgiveness is important: towards your ex, your parents, your children, and yourself. Fill your new life with positive thoughts and activities.
Your future is bright – apply these healthy divorce tips and you will do well!
Deanna Coyle is the Founder of Vesta: Redefinng Divorce, a speaker, Huffington Post Contributor, former financial professional, and divorced mother of two wonderful teenage sons. After going through a long financially and emotionally draining divorce, Deanna founded Vesta, which provides educational and social events and retreats, trusted resources and a supportive community that help people navigate life before, during and after divorce with confidence. Deanna welcomes people to reach out to her directly for information or support at (508) 744-6014 or Team@VestaDivorce.com. To find out more about informative and social events hosted by Vesta, like us at Facebook.com/VestaDivorce or go to VestaDivorce.com/Events.