Major life transitions almost always create stress – even the good transitions. Whether it’s leaving a career and transitioning to retirement, seeing children off to college after 18 years of nurturing and parenting them, or starting your own business after working for someone else, the stress can be great. Even events that are planned and positive can be filled with emotional and financial challenges. As a result, many people seek the guidance of a financial advisor during those times.
A divorce is a huge transition too, and it’s further complicated by the fact that it’s rarely positive and often unplanned. When going through a divorce, people are faced with many challenges, but finances prove to be a consistent source of conflict and stress. Everyone’s situation is different, but there are some pieces of advice that may help during this time.
Decide to make as few major changes as possible in the first year.
Following a divorce, change is inevitable. Of course you want to hurry and move on, take charge, and demonstrate your rugged independence. That’s completely natural after a break-up, and we all understand that impulse. But at a time when life is in a huge upheaval, it can be beneficial to take charge and refuse to change too much. A good rule of thumb is, “Give it a year.”
One example may be choosing to rent instead of buying a new home right away. Finalizing a divorce takes time, and following that, it will be a while before you can get a sense of your “new normal.” Buying a home is a powerful act of independence, but also stressful on its own.
So many things beyond your control will change as a result of the divorce. Think of postponing major changes as a way to give yourself time to regain control.
Invest time in examining your own fears and assumptions about money.
It’s been said that money is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master. Letting your money work for you can be empowering! However, when you feel uncomfortable with money, sometimes you can react a bit too quickly.
Sure, this advice isn’t exactly the type that you can put on a list and cross off when it’s done – it requires a lot of reflection. Think about how money was regarded in your family as you were growing up. Was it a sore subject around the dinner table, or were you the type who has been comfortable with a budget since you were earning chore money? For many of us, our fears and assumptions about money started at a very early age and were shaped by the relationships we had as we grew up.
If you aren’t sure where to start, you may find it helpful to take the time to discuss your fears and assumptions with someone else – a financial advisor or even a money-savvy friend you trust. Just having a third party to discuss your financial plan with can be valuable.
Regain your financial independence.
We see again and again that the biggest conflicts in relationships are money-related. The silver lining is that following a divorce, you can live by your financial values. Enjoy! You have the opportunity to shape and regain your own financial independence, and that is empowering. Identify what is important to you, and make it happen.
As you can see, the consistent advice about this transition involves stepping back and re-evaluating your situation. At a time when it may be hard to see one year down the road, let alone 5-10 years, remember that your financial plan is long-term, and the turmoil of this transition will pass.
Megan Poore, is a financial advisor at Lucien, Stirling and Gray Advisory Group, Inc., in Austin, Texas. Megan helps women and men take control and navigate changes in income, retirement assets, business ownership and other matters related to major transitions and their effects on a client’s lifestyle and family responsibilities.
*All content provided in this blog is supplied by Megan Poore and is for informational purposes only. Barclaycard makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.
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