If you are a woman and have gone through a divorce, believe me, I know what you’re going through. I’m not divorced myself, but I’m the child of divorced parents, and that experience taught me a lot.
In fact, I’d venture to say this crucial event in my life motivated me to become a Certified Financial Planner and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, as well as getting my postgraduate in family therapy.
There are many reasons you could have gone through a divorce. We are not here to look at the past but to focus on your bright future, in which you’ll conquer your finances.
Here is what every divorced woman should know about money.
Create a budget
With divorce comes the enormous challenge of reconfiguring your life. Now, what you and your partner used to do together you must do on your own, from big things like contributing financially to the household income to small things, like filling up your car with gas at night. In addition, you’re living in a world where women make, on average, 79 cents to every dollar a man earns for the same work.
After a divorce, women need to be lean and mean, mustering up extra power to make their finances fit their new life. How do you do this, you ask? With a lot of discipline and an intimate relationship with your new spending plan (aka your budget) — this is your new best friend.
Start by detoxing every expense that does not make you 100% happy and that is not necessary. In addition, link your finances to an app, such as Mint or You Need a Budget, that can keep track of your spending vs. your budget. Keep the difference between your spending and income in a high-yield savings account.
A word of caution: Be careful not to overcompensate with shopping or trying to buy your way into happiness; it is common to spend more or eat more when you’re feeling emotional. Instead, fill your day with financial affirmations, meditation, social impact, and exercise that will clear your mind and lead you to a positive life of prosperity.
Know the value of your time and delegate tasks that aren’t worth it
Every divorced woman should fully understand the value of her time. For example, if you work 60 hours a week in a full-time job with a salary (or you run a business) and you make X amount of dollars, divide the dollars by the hours to calculate what you are making per hour.
This amount will help you decide if the one-hour phone call to the cable company or the two-hour supermarket shopping trip is aligned with achieving your financial goals — consider delegating or consolidating tasks or ordering online when you can.
Build an emergency fund and protect yourself
Before, you may have been able to rely on your spouse in the event of a financial emergency. Now, you should have three to six months of fixed expenses saved to weather any storm that may come your way.
Also, make sure to protect all your assets with insurance — you’ll need to cover your car, house, and health, and you may want to get life insurance (if you don’t already have it) as well as disability insurance in the event of a medical issue that prevents you from working. You cannot afford to lose your hard-earned money, and insurance is a good strategy to lower your out-of-pocket expenses in case of an accident.
You should update your estate planning documents, too. This includes your health care directive, durable power of attorney, guardianships, and insurance beneficiaries.
Finally, it’s a good idea to focus on your long-term finances by investing your money so that it grows. After all, women live 10 years longer than men on average, so make sure your money will last by investing.
Recognized as 2017 People Magazine’s 25 Most Powerful Women, Elaine King is a Family Business Advisor and a Certified Financial Planner professional who is considered an expert in international family financial planning and an ambassador for the CFP Board of Standards. She is also the founder of the Family and Money Matters Institute, whose mission is to empower the family’s human & financial capital making money a positive force.