Getting divorced and sharing two households with the same income as one is hard enough.  Add in the stress and uncertainty of Covid-19 and more than ever, money concerns are weighing on most people’s minds.  You may feel like your financial stress after divorce is even worse than it was when you were getting divorced.  You may be wanting to have a peaceful separation but with money concerns it feels impossible.

Whether you’re thinking about divorce, in the midst of a process that is stalled due to Covid-19 or on the other side, there’s no time like the present to take a step back and get organized. You can put your life back together one step at a time.  A time of crisis, when navigated with care, can be the time of great opportunity. This may be a great time for you to take control of your finances,  to find your inner powerful voice and to make your financial life after divorce better than before.

Here are some actionable steps to get you and your family on a powerful path to financial wellness after divorce.

1.  Take a deep breath.  Recognize that you’re not alone.  While you may initially feel paralyzed emotionally, before giving into that inner negative loop remind yourself that you have all the power within yourself to change your narrative and your circumstances. When it comes to dealing with uncomfortable topics such as dealing with money after divorce it may take all you have to slow down and settle into the process. Know you can do this!

2. Figure out your balance sheet.  First things first, you need to figure out what you have (assets), what you owe (debts), what you earn (income) and what you pay each month (expenses.).  There are many simple fantastic balance sheets available online. Financial wellness after divorce begins with knowing what you have, what you owe, what you earn and what you spend. Only when you know where you know where you are struggling can you start fixing your financial situation.  Once you have a lay of the land, you will be in a better position to move forward.

3. Be Brave.  Be bold and ask for help.  Release your fears or shame . Recognize that the times are hard for everyone.  Credit is being extended today beyond what is usual.  For example, some credit card companies are waiving late fees temporarily or extending time to pay. If you own a small business and suddenly find yourself unemployed, don’t be afraid to ask your landlord for an adjustment in rent. Muster the courage to negotiate. Most likely you will be able to negotiate something that is mutually agreeable. Most creditors will prefer to be paid late or partially rather than not to be paid at all.

4. Educate Yourself. Today your financial world may feel like it is collapsing but note that this difficult financial time is temporary.  There are so many incredible online resources that can help you to get organized. Do your best to educate yourself  right now by exploring resources available from some of the top professionals online right now.  During Covid-19 most professionals are working remotely and available to help you get started.  BONUS:  These days, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised to learn that many resources are free.

5. Take Baby Steps.  Building new habits takes time, persistence and grit. Be patient with yourself as you begin to do things differently. When you decide to change the way you interact with yourself, your environment and your money you can make extensive changes in your world.  Select one habit to improve and you have the ability to truly improve your financial wellness after divorce. Maybe begin simply by courageously telling yourself “I can take control of my finances after divorce.”  Say it  to yourself throughout the day.  Then, from the comfort of your own home environment consider exploring the vast array of FREE online resources such as those provided be the non-profit organization Savvy Ladies. You can find webinars, experts and online resources to get you on your path to financial security. Remember in order to create new habits you need to make your new behavior automatic.  That happens over time.  For today, commit to making one small change.

Changing your relationship with money is a marathon, not a sprint.  Commit to engaging with yourself, your spreadsheet, and all the resources that are available literally at your fingertips.  Give yourself permission to be confident and to trust that you have the power within you to survive and thrive financially through and beyond your divorce.  One day at a time, one moment at a time you have the power within to positively change both your narrative and your circumstances.  You will need to practice your patience. Allow the fear and anxiety that may come up to pass through you.  In time, by remaining calm and doing the work in digestible bits, your financial life will settle.

P.S. Want more tools and resources to stay positive during a divorce? Download my Free Divorce Survive & Thrive Kit below!

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DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. 

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