What are some of the most common emotions surrounding money? Most of us equate an abundance of money with financial stability, peace of mind and freedom. It is no wonder that a threat or possibility of financial loss can push us into depression and panic. Fear, shame and anger also make the short list.
The emotional nature of our relationship with money is particularly obvious at the divorce negotiation table. The normal vortex of divorce emotions (loss, grief, a sense of betrayal) is amplified by the fear of not having enough money to make ends meet. Unfortunately, that fear often stands in the way of spouses making good decisions.
How can you be sure you don’t fall into the same trap? Here is your blueprint.
Start with the big picture.
Let’s be honest: divorce isn’t anyone’s dream. However, each side typically has a “wish list” of things, concessions and funds they want to walk away with. No matter how long your list is, be sure that you also have a pared-down “absolute must have” version. What is most important to you in this divorce? If you are honest with yourself, the answer is probably 2-4 points that really matter. Focus on those and be mentally prepared to ease up on the rest.
Know what you need.
How do you know what really matters? Begin with what you need. Any financial planner who works with collaborative divorce cases will tell you to begin by compiling a detailed list of your expenses. A guesstimate won’t do. Go through 3-4 months’ worth of bank statements and credit card bills to be sure you have captured every expense category.
Next, look into the future to see how those expenses will change. The reality is that dividing the household does not mean that Husband and Wife will each walk away with 50% of historical expenses. From rent to health insurance, grocery bills to gasoline, you will need to work with your professional team to be certain that you have a complete picture of your post-divorce needs. This clarity will cut down on the fear of not having enough.
Face your feelings.
Still feeling scared, frustrated and uncertain about your financial future? Face those feelings and process them as best you can: with family, friends or your therapist. Understanding what goes on inside will go a long way towards managing your emotions during divorce negotiations. If you are able to be constructive at the table, you have a chance of shaping your outcomes. If you are carried away with emotions, you risk sabotaging your situation.
Take care of yourself.
Self-case, as difficult as it sounds in a stressful situation, is a good way to make room for flexible thinking. This might mean making room for naps, walks, showers, exercise and good nutrition. If a spiritual practice is part of your life, find a way to fit it in. When you are exhausted and stretched thin, you will find it very difficult to come up with creative solutions.
Use your professional team.
Divorce is hard. You don’t have to do it alone. Remember that your professional team is there to support you, inform your decisions and guide you using all their expertise, professionalism and creativity. Ask us questions, reach out when you are uncertain, work with us. Your neutral financial planner has supported hundreds of couples in creating the best possible starting point for both spouses after the divorce. Money questions are complex, but we can solve them together.