This week’s episode is all about getting control of your finances during a state of transition such as divorce. We hear from so many of our readers and writers about how they knew nothing about their finances during their marriages, giving full control to their husbands. But when things begin to go downhill in your marriage, do you know enough to take control of your own money?
Stacy Francis saw what her grandmother’s difficult marriage did to her and when speaking to Stacey, her grandmother confessed that she couldn’t leave her abusive husband because of money. This became a turning point for Stacy, who wanted to make sure she never ended up in a similar situation. She put all her effort into becoming a financial expert and has not only built a successful career for herself as an investment banker in New York City but devoted significant time and energy into getting other women educated about their finances.
Stacy Francis is a CFP, CDFA, CES and the founder and CEO of Francis Financial. She is a nationally recognized financial expert and is one of twenty of the nation’s leading wealth managers on CNBC’s Digital Financial Advisor Council. Stacey frequently appears in media outlets such as CNN, PBS, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. She also started Savvy Ladies, a non-profit organization teaching women to understand and take charge of their finances.
Jennifer Butler: Welcome to Divorce and Other Things You Can Handle, a branded podcast from Worthy. I’m Jennifer Butler, and I’m your host. Our guest today is truly an expert on educating and empowering women who are divorcing to take control of their finances. This is a time in a woman’s life filled with emotion and also a time when important long-term financial decisions need to be made. Many women, when looking back on their divorce, wish they had a better understanding of money so they could have made more informed decisions about their divorce settlements. Today, we are going to be talking to Stacy Francis of Francis Financial and Savvy Ladies to discuss the most common mistakes women tend to make and how those mistakes can be avoided.
Knowledge is power, and it is our goal to provide you with information and education so you can make the best decisions and be your best self during this transitional period of your life. Stacy is a wealth of knowledge, and I’m really glad to be able to talk with her here today. Both Francis Financial and Worthy have conducted financial studies on divorced women, and we will be sharing some of our findings with you today as we discuss this topic. We’re going to take a quick break, and we will be right back with Stacy Francis. When you sell a piece of jewelry, you can’t control how much it’s worth, but you can make sure that you’re selling smart with a team of experts and advocates behind you at Worthy.
Your engagement ring can be a financial asset that allows you to embrace a new and fulfilling life after divorce. Let us help you get the best deal possible for the jewelry you’ve outgrown. Go to Worthy.com/podcast to learn more. Stacy Francis is a nationally recognized financial expert and the President and CEO of Francis Financial, which she founded 16 years ago. She is a certified financial planner and certified divorce financial analyst who provides advice to women going through transitions such as divorce, widowhood, and sudden wealth. She is also the founder of Savvy Ladies, a nonprofit that has provided free personal finance education and resources to over 15,000 women.
When Stacy is not being interviewed on CNBC, the WSJ, and Forbes, she is hosting Financially Ever After, a podcast focusing on women, money, and divorce. Stacy has received numerous industry awards such as one of the top 10 financial advisors in New York by AdvisoryHQ, top wealth advisor moms by Working Mother Magazine, InvestmentNews women to watch, and one of the best financial advisors for women by the Women’s Choice Award. For her dedication to giving back, she has also been rewarded Financial Planning Association’s Heart of Financial Planning Award, Financial Plannings Magazine’s Pro Bono Award, and the NAPFA Consumer Education Foundation’s first Pro Bono Award. Please welcome to the podcast Stacy Francis. It’s truly an honor to have you here.
Stacy Francis: Thank you, Jennifer. I’m really excited to be talking to you today. You guys are doing great work.
Jennifer Butler: So are you. We are so grateful to be aligned with you. You’re such an expert, not only in the area of finance, but you’ve really dedicated yourself to this niche of working specifically with women who are, really, it’s not just divorce, really in a state of transition. Can you tell us a little bit about why you do the work that you do?
Stacy Francis: You know, you never think about, as a little girl, sitting there dreaming of your future, thinking, “I want to become a certified divorce financial analyst.” I can’t imagine there’s too many little girls out there. To be honest, I never envisioned my life. I never saw myself in the field of finance either. I will be fully honest and admit that I was the girl who didn’t raise her hand in math. Numbers kind of frightened me. I did the exact opposite of that. I decided I’d be a French major and a Spanish minor. I feel like that was my way of getting as far from numbers as I possibly could, but then I had a wake up call. It was actually very shortly into my career in college at Middlebury College. I had a conversation with my grandmother that absolutely changed the direction of my life. I finally had the courage to ask her why she stayed in her marriage.
Jennifer Butler: Oh, wow.
Stacy Francis: That’s something that, at least for me, took a lot of courage because it was not a good marriage. She was married to my grandfather in her late teens. She ended up staying with him until her 80s and lived a life of emotional abuse, financial abuse, and physical abuse. She said the reason she stayed was because of money. That was the turning point for me. All that fear and anxiety that I had about numbers, about finance, I was going to have to get my big girl panties on. I was going to have to learn how to deal with money because I realized right then and there that if I didn’t, my life could be like that of my grandmother, and I too could find myself trapped in a marriage. That was my turning point. That’s when I decided that I would change my major. I would go into finance.
I went into as finance as could possibly be, investment banking here in New York City, and ultimately decided to take that and do good with it. When I say do good with it, it was starting Savvy Ladies in honor of my grandmother to help women with the support they need that, unfortunately, she didn’t get about her finances and also to work with women through Francis Financial who are actually going through divorce that need help with modeling out the settlement, understanding, “What is my life going to look like?” and, just as important, helping them afterwards to make sure that they’re being supported, and that they are making good decisions, and that this lump sum of money that they have is really going to last them for the rest of their life.
Jennifer Butler: First of all, that is so powerful, that moment with your grandmother, and just the way it really changed the course of your life. There’s so much research coming out about how we are living past generational things and when we can change them in the now, how we not only change for ourselves, but we change for the world at large, other women, our own children, our own grandchildren. It’s just amazing that you had the foresight and the courage to do that, to ask and then change.
Stacy Francis: You know, it was definitely courage, but I think about this, and I think so much of it is that when you see someone who you adore more than anything, both my grandmother and my mother, who I’ve now both lost, were the two most important people in my entire life. To see someone who you adore, who you care for, suffer. My grandmother died because of my grandfather. He pushed her down the stairs. She ended up dying in the hospital. That should never happen. I will tell you part of my passion is anger, and you can still hear it in my voice. Part of my passion is that I couldn’t save her and that feeling of being ashamed, of being embarrassed, feeling like you’re not enough. Part of that passion is that my grandmother was such an amazing woman that she would want me to be doing this work to help other women. I do not want her life to be something that’s not remembered and something that didn’t matter. It’s with that that I started this. It’s with that of why I think I had the courage. Sometimes you do things that are really courageous partially you feel like there’s no choice.
Jennifer Butler: Right. They say anger is the agent of change. You’ve taken that in. It’s really you’ve taken your grandmother’s life and created this legacy of change, this legacy of advocacy and change and possibility. You started talking about Savvy Ladies, and I want to kind of just focus there for a minute because there are so many women out there who are going through difficult transitions, divorce, maybe it’s widowhood, maybe they’re just stuck and don’t know how to get themselves out, and they don’t know where to turn. Savvy Ladies provides the wisdom, the education, the resources. I just wanted to kind of have you talk a little bit about Savvy Ladies and what women can find there.
Stacy Francis: I started Savvy Ladies nearly two decades ago. In the 20 years, we’ve created so much rich content for women, for women from all walks of life, all different paths, from women who are getting off welfare to women who have assets but just have a lot of questions understandably too. You can go to our website. There are hundreds of TED Talk-like videos, everything from, “How to invest my 401K,” to, “I’m thinking about a divorce. What should I do?” to, “How do I pay off my debt?” Any topic, even negotiating the corner office, it is there. On top of it, we have live webinars every other week, which is really powerful. You can call in with your questions, log in with your questions too on every topic you can imagine. The piece that I’m most passionate about, Jennifer, is our help line. I don’t know about you, but I am a self-help guru. I love self-help books. Anytime I can, I am either listening to them while I’m driving or while I’m on the subway and listening or reading. Often, I will have that question of, “What does that mean for me?”
It’s the same for your listeners. You can read great books. There’s lots of great books out there. You can watch a seminar, but what does that mean really for me financially? Because everybody is different, and that’s what the help line does. We match women up with certified financial planners, certified divorce financial analysts, or certified public accountants, CPAs, to be there as needed or we actually just piloted a program where we already have 30 women signed up. This is for a six-month program to be able to work that professional one-on-one to make sure that you have the information you need to be able to move forward. What’s most powerful is that it’s free of charge. It means that wherever you are in your life financially, you can use this resource. It’s the only resource in the country that’s available like this, let alone without any charge.
Jennifer Butler: That’s amazing, what you’re saying. It doesn’t matter where you are in your life financially. I know today’s topic is really talking about the mistakes we make and how to avoid them. I wrote an article for Worthy a few months back about the mistakes I made. I think top on my list was I failed to get educated. You know, it really stems from not even when I was going through the divorce but while I was married, just kind of turning everything over. I know you have done a study. Worthy’s done a study. Worthy found that one in five women abdicate control of their money to their husbands. I was one of them.
Stacy Francis: Yeah, you’re definitely not alone. We saw that as well. Essentially not even a third of the women were really involved with the investment piece. They found themselves really behind the eight-ball. I have to say we’re doing better with the day to day bill paying and more of us are involved with that. That’s really positive, particularly for after a divorce when that becomes even more and more important, but the piece we definitely are failing on is that abdicating the money, particularly the investment management, the long-term savings, to our husbands and not playing an active role in it. I understand. I was one of you as well, where that was the last thing I wanted to do. I would rather go get a root canal than talk about 401ks and IRAs and 457 plans and all of that. What I have found is that the more you slowly peel back the onion and learn a little bit more, this stuff is actually, number one, not rocket science. Number two, it’s actually pretty interesting stuff too. You just have to frame it in the right way to make it interesting for you to want to stay involved and knowledgeable.
Jennifer Butler: Yeah, no. That makes a lot of sense. I mean, I remember just kind of feeling so uneducated and afraid of it that I didn’t even take that time. I’d just say, “Oh, yeah. You handle that.” It’s this sort of peaceful denial, this false sense of safety that we create, but it’s really not safety.
Stacy Francis: It’s not. We see that leading into some mistakes that women make during the divorce process. These are mistakes that we didn’t talk about, although we know them, but that the women told us. I think that’s really important to know the source. The women pointed out four specific areas where they felt that they had made a mistake. The number one was not really understanding their spending, failing to consider the long-term, and how their divorce settlement will affect them, not just in two or three years, but in five, 10, 20, taking the house when they didn’t understand the whole financial ramifications and whether or not they could afford it, and then, finally, not knowing all the assets. Those were four pieces that women said over and over and over again really hurt them through the divorce process. They look back and wished that they had known essentially what they know now.
Jennifer Butler: What I really want to do is kind of talk individually about each one. I’m going to take a really quick break here. Then, when we come back, let’s kind of dive in.
Stacy Francis: Sounds great.
Jennifer Butler: Great. We’ll be right back with more from Stacy Francis. When I decided to sell my jewelry after my divorce, the most important thing to me was finding a company that I could trust and one that would also advocate for me. I found this and so much more at Worthy. Their expert staff immediately put me at ease and helped me to get the best price possible for my jewelry. Your engagement ring can be a symbol of your freedom, your journey, and the choices you have made to live your life on your terms and create the future you desire. Let us help you get the best deal possible for the jewelry you’ve outgrown. Go to Worthy.com/podcast to learn more. We’re back talking to Stacy Francis, and we are talking about the top financial mistakes women make. Stacy’s just outlined the top four mistakes that women have pointed out that they’ve made which, I think, like you said, is a very important thing to note, that these are people who have gone through this and are noticing the mistakes that are being made as opposed to just sort of shooting in the dark and seeing from our end which mistakes we think people are making. Let’s go through each one. The first one you mentioned was not understanding spending.
Stacy Francis: We talked a little bit about how about 38% of the women that we interviewed were solely responsible for tracking and paying expenses in the household, but what we found is that sometimes that didn’t translate to them understanding the total picture of the spending, the kind of adding it all together. Sometimes you’ll someone giving you their expenses, and everything ends in a zero or a five. What that tells us is that you’ve ballparked. If you’ve ballparked, guess what. You’re basing decisions right now that are going to impact the rest of your life and your children’s, so it’s really important to understand down to the penny where your money goes. Jennifer, if you and I were just to kind of sit across each other and write down those expenses we know, which is most likely the mortgage, real estate taxes, maybe even what we pay on our auto insurance and homeowners insurance, there’s going to be a huge amount that we forget. For example, I got a ticket last fall. I was in a parking space, and it was illegal.
I deserved the ticket, but there were a bunch of other cars parked right along there. Well, it turned out they were undercover police people, and they can park anywhere they want. I got my ticket. That would be an example, Jennifer, of something that I would not have remembered. Yet, hopefully it’s not an ongoing expense, but there are things that come up. Maybe it’s and additional mammogram that you have to have that you didn’t plan for. We need to make sure that we get down to a penny those things we can plan for. Look at those one time expenses that come up and see, “Well, might this happen again? Let’s make sure that I have a little cushioning here,” because you can’t say yes to a settlement agreement and know with 100% certainty that you’re going to be okay financially unless what you’re basing it upon, your expenses, are really right. Far too many women I see really skip over this step and do it too quickly. If we’re going to just ballpark things, human nature shows us that nine out of 10 times we’re going to underestimate those expenses.
Jennifer Butler: That’s so interesting. How can women go about this? Because I remember going through this process.
Stacy Francis: It’s painful.
Jennifer Butler: And just being overwhelmed with the how. How do I even do this? I don’t remember. I remember thinking, “I don’t remember any of this. I don’t know.”
Stacy Francis: There’s a couple different ways you can do it. If you really don’t want to deal with it, you can give it to a divorce financial analyst. We just finished a spending analysis and categorized 4,329 transactions for this client, but the positive is is that in the 10, 12 hours that we did this for her, she knows all of her spending, which is great. Not everybody wants to work with a certified divorce financial analyst. The next step is doing it yourself, but doing it in a way that is not as painful as a root canal. What you can do is you can upload your credit cards into QuickBooks or Quicken is another one. Those are two great resources where it can track all of those spending pieces, and then you can run reports. If you’re not as comfortable with QuickBooks or Quicken, then I’ve got another solution for you.
This one actually is free. It’s Mint.com. There’s a couple other competitors. Personal Capital is another. You can link your credit cards and your checking account. Typically, it goes back three months and grabs all those old expenses. It allows you then to categorize and run reports. There are a lot of ways, again, a lot of ways that you can do this by being able to use some of these tools to make it a little less painful. I have to say, Jennifer, it’s easier today than it was let’s say 10 years ago because every single credit card that you’re getting and that you’re using, typically, they’re sending you an annual report already broken up by category. That actually wasn’t the case 10 years ago. There’s a lot more flexibility in how you do this to get to those actual spending numbers.
Jennifer Butler: Yeah. That’s great. I was thinking that as well. With all these apps and things, it is much easier. Okay. That’s great. The next one you mentioned was failing to consider the long-term.
Stacy Francis: Yes. I think about this. Yesterday I took a SoulCycle class, and I did Soul Survivor. I don’t know any of your listeners have taken SoulCycle, but it is so intense. Soul Survivor means that instead of a 45-minute class, it’s an hour. I will tell you every moment felt like eternity, and I just wanted the class to be over. When it was, I was so happy, and I was so relieved. Going through the divorce process I feel like is, not to make light of it, but similar to that Soul Survivor SoulCycle class. You’re waiting for the moment that it’s over because it’s so unbelievably painful. Unfortunately, sometimes we will make decisions to just get us done, out of the process. I’ve actually heard it said, “I bought my way out of my divorce.” What women will say when they’re talking about that, what they mean is that they gave up assets that maybe they truly were entitled to.
They gave up the amount of alimony or maintenance that they truly should have been entitled to. I’ve even seen it of taking a lower child support number. Divorce is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Make sure that you have the support you need. You have to have a therapist. 60% of the women we interviewed wished that they had had a therapist. How is it that 60% of the women that we interviewed potentially even didn’t have a therapist? You’ve got to get your team in place because this is not going to finish up overnight. The decisions you make truly are going to impact the rest of your life. Make sure you consider the long-term and know that your decisions now are going to have a long-term impact. Keep yourself healthy so that you can withstand the distress of being in the process so that you have the emotional and the mental capability to stick with it and also make good decisions.
Jennifer Butler: The settling down, basically, I hear a lot as an interest of sanity. Is this really important? Breaking free and moving on is more important to me. That’s kind of the feedback I hear from a lot of people who do make that decision to settle for less or take a lower payment. What do you say to that?
Stacy Francis: What I say to that is that if you truly believe that’s the right thing to do, then you should do it. Make sure you do talk to your attorney. Your attorney has a fiduciary duty to tell you, “You’re really being taken advantage of here, and I want you to understand what you’re giving up.” The most important thing throughout all of this, because I do understand, particularly I’ve seen in cases where there’s emotional abuse, financial abuse, and physical abuse, where they just want to move on. Who wouldn’t? Right?
Jennifer Butler: Right.
Stacy Francis: Who wouldn’t want to? But make sure that you understand what you are giving up and have conversation with other types of professionals, your attorney, maybe a financial planner, and maybe a therapist. From the legal, the financial, and then the emotional end, you can discuss this so that whatever your decision is, you make that confidently and that knowing that going forward in five, 10, 20 years, you will look back on your decision and, again, feel very comfortable that you had made that right decision, and you’d make it over again that day.
Jennifer Butler: Right. Yes. Really educate yourself and be really thoughtful and conscious about whatever decision you’re going to make.
Stacy Francis: Exactly.
Jennifer Butler: The next, taking the house.
Stacy Francis: Taking the house, many times, we want to take the house. I am this person too. If, god forbid something happen between my husband and I, I would want to stay in our apartment. That’s where my kids have grown up. That’s where they have their bedrooms, their stuffed animals. Financially, I know that it would not be a good decision, and it wouldn’t be a good decision because, long-term, I couldn’t afford the monthly maintenance on our house. There’s no way. Even with child support and alimony that might be paid to me, I know I couldn’t afford it. Make sure that when you are choosing to stay in the house that you truly can afford it and that you’re willing to burden any capital gains that you might realize when you need to sell it down the line and the transaction costs of selling as well.
These are all things that need to go in. I will share a caveat too. In my podcast, Financially Ever After, we interviewed a few children now that they’re adults, so essentially adult children of divorce, and asked that question of, “How important was it for you to stay in the house?” I won’t say that this is true for everyone, but of the people we interviewed, they said, “You know what? Staying in the house wasn’t so important to me, but what was important is I wanted to make sure I was still going to the same school, that I could still go to boy scouts, that I could still manage to do the travel soccer team on the weekend, that I had my friends, that I had my school. That’s what was important. It was not so much my house.”
Not to say that that’s everyone, but I thought that was a really nice perspective because we, as moms, at least I know me, I am a mama bear. I will defend and do everything I possibly can for my children, even putting myself financially or physically in the way of harm. It’s important for us to hear another point of view because you might not have to do that. What I have learned from my own father is that having financial stability is also a gift for your children. My father is not financially stable. I know in the back of my mind that my financial security that I think I have could go up in smoke if, god forbid, something happen to my father and he needed medical care. He has saved and has $15,000 to his name. Know that your financial stability and future is actually also a gift to be able to give to your children so they don’t have to worry about you. Sometimes taking the home is just not in the cards.
Jennifer Butler: Right. Yeah. Really shifting your perspective into there’s other ways to provide consistency and there’s other ways to provide that sense of security to your kids if the house, at the end of the day, isn’t a wise financial step to take.
Stacy Francis: Exactly.
Jennifer Butler: Not knowing all of the assets.
Stacy Francis: Not knowing all the accounts. It’s okay if you don’t, particularly if you haven’t been really the one dealing with and handling the investments and your retirement. Please do open the account statements while you’re married, while you’re happily married. Please do participate as much as you possibly can to know what is where because it will save you thousands and thousands of dollars in your divorce process because you will know where everything is. You can give that to your mediator, give that to your attorney. Then, the other piece of knowing the assets is knowing the tax impact. A dollar in your checking account is not worth the same that might be a dollar in a 401k.
A dollar in the checking account, you can take it out, spend it, and a full dollar can buy a dollar’s worth of goods, whereas a dollar out of that 401k, you’re going to owe 40, maybe even 50 cents to Uncle Sam in taxes, and then you walk away with 50 cents yourself. Understanding a dollar in the checking account is not the same necessarily as a dollar in retirement. The other piece I see is even in retirement, there’s some mixed understanding. A 401k versus let’s say a Roth 401k, a regular IRA versus let’s say a Roth IRA, two completely types of assets even though they share a little bit of the same name. The Roth, and the way I remember this, Roth starts with an R, which is really, really, really good.
What’s also called a Roth IRA is whatever it grows to, you get to take it out tax-free. A dollar in that Roth IRA, you take it out, you still have a dollar, whereas a dollar in that IRA or that 401k, like that example I just talked about, you’d pay taxes. You may walk away with, if you’re lucky, 50 cents. Understanding Roth versus regular, understanding if you have a taxable brokerage account. If it’s worth $1 million, what was it bought for? If it was bought for $300,000, less. You’re going to have $700,000 in gains you’re going to have to pay taxes on. These are all kind of more detailed, nitty-gritty questions but that will have an unbelievably large impact on your financial future.
Jennifer Butler: Yeah, absolutely. When you’re talking about assets too, tangible assets as well. Correct?
Stacy Francis: Exactly.
Jennifer Butler: We forget about some of those tangible assets.
Stacy Francis: We forget about the house. We forget about the collection of guitars or baseball cards. Maybe he collected baseball cards, so they’re his. No, no, no. If he collected them during the marriage with marital money, then they’re yours as well. I had this explained a wonderful matrimonial attorney. When you buy something, think about it that you just put a yellow sticky with the value of whatever you bought it for. Let’s say it’s that house. You bought it for 500,000. You’ve got a yellow sticky on it for 500,000. You did $200,000 in renovations. You put another yellow sticky on that house for $200,000. Then, whatever the value you’re going to sell it for, let’s say we’re going to sell it for $1 million. You have a blue sticky for $1 million. We’ve got our 500,000 that we bought it for, the $200,000 on the sticky of renovations. We’ve got $700,000 that we essentially paid for this house versus what we’ve sold it for, $1 million on that blue sticky. What’s the difference? 300,000.
That’s what you potentially might have to pay gains on. Again, one of the easiest things to put those little stickies in your mind on them and say, “Okay. Did I make money on this? That means that I’m going to have to pay gains on it if I get that asset and need to sell,” or, in some cases, “Did I lose money on this?” If you lost money in an account, maybe you bought the account with stocks for $1 million, and now it might only be worth 600,000. Wow. Number one, that was a really bad investment manager, probably should fire them. Number two, you have a loss of $400,000. That actually might be an asset you want to take because you have all these losses that you could use in the future to offset gains. Again, these are things you’re going to want to talk to your attorney about or a financial advisor about because a dollar in one account is not necessarily equal to a dollar in another account.
Jennifer Butler: Yeah. As you’re speaking, I mean, it does sound like a lot, but, honestly, as you’re speaking, it’s really once you get the information, it does start to make sense.
Stacy Francis: Jennifer, it’s not rocket science. I know that when you watch CNBC, when you’re reading The Wall Street Journal, it can be very overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Know that these are skills that you’re going to use for the rest of your life because once your divorce is final, I hope to god you’re not going back to your ex-husband and asking for advice, even if it’s an amicable relationship. You want to make sure that you put your team together, people that you trust, but that you’re participating, that you’re empowering yourself. It’s just like driving. I think back to the first time I jumped in a car. My hands were actually shaking because I was so nervous about learning how to drive, but now, I mean, I drove all over this weekend. My daughter had a laser tag birthday party out in Long Island City, and we drove there together. Of course, I didn’t think about the mechanics of driving. You just do it. It’s the same thing with money. The more we do it, the more comfortable, the more automatic it’s going to get for us.
Jennifer Butler: Yeah. Absolutely. One other tangible asset I just want to bring up because we’re here at Worthy, the ring. I think sometimes we forget those little things like our jewelry, engagement ring, things like that. If we find ourselves in a place of either working out the finances or even in a place where we need access to finances, how we can see that as an asset.
Stacy Francis: It is, and your engagement ring is your separate property. That is your separate property that was a gift before the marriage. That is yours, so if you don’t have funds to engage a lawyer or certified divorce financial analyst, that is an asset that is truly yours. Now, the wedding band is different. The wedding band typically is considered marital. Also, if you took that engagement ring and, let’s say, 10 years into the marriage sold it and then upgraded to a larger stone, which I’ve heard some people do as well, unfortunately, you’ve just transmuted. You’ve just changed that into marital assets, so that engagement ring is no longer typically considered a separate property.
Your jewelry is something to think about. I do have some women that come to us that have beautiful jewelry collections, just stunning, and great taste too, but if it was bought during the marriage, again, it’s typically going to be considered marital. However, if you use separate funds, let’s say money that you brought to the marriage, it could be an inheritance, a personal injury property settlement typically goes under that category, that umbrella too, if the funds originated from something of that sort, then it still may be separate property for jewelry. What do you do? Best thing you do is just run it by your lawyer to make sure that you’re not making any faux pas or creating any issues.
Jennifer Butler: Really important information because I know that a lot of times women who don’t have access to the finances at all really find themselves in a place of powerlessness where they don’t know how to get the money, like you said, to even hire an attorney or hire a financial planner. Yeah, right there is just something of theirs that they can use to begin advocating for themselves.
Stacy Francis: I agree. I have to say thank you for tackling these issues. No one talks about money, and I’m so pleased that Worthy is taking this on because we, as woman, we need to start talking about money. We have these beautiful money circles that we host each month where we do just that. It’s very small, typically 10, 15 women. We’ll journal. We’ll talk. We’ll share. I’ll be honest, I’ve cried. Don’t judge me, but I’ve cried just about how were we raised with money. What are our beliefs about money? What are our beliefs about our abilities with money? How have things changed now that we’re looking at dealing with and being responsible for money on our own? The power of us women talking together and supporting each other is something that there needs to be more of. I just wanted to give a huge, huge kudos to you, Jennifer, and Worthy to start to tackle some of these issues. Unless we start to talk about this, women being behind the eight-ball financially going through a divorce and the statistics that divorced women are three times more likely to live in poverty above 65 versus men, those statistics are only going to get worse.
Jennifer Butler: Yeah, no. Absolutely. I mean, you’re speaking to my heart right there because I know, for me, I was embarrassed to speak about money. I was raised, “We just don’t talk about that.” You don’t talk about that. Savvy Ladies, I mean, it’s just all such powerful work and just getting the conversation going, shifting the conversation, and giving ourselves the freedom to talk and learn and be powerful here is just so important. Our time is up. We went a little bit over because I’m so grateful. You’re so clear in not only the mistakes we’re making but the ways we can begin to shift out of that and really prepare for the future or just self-correct right now. I thank you so much for that.
Stacy Francis: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Jennifer Butler: How can our listeners get in touch with you?
Stacy Francis: Well, let me give you information on Savvy Ladies first. If you are in a situation where you desperately need help but just don’t necessarily have the financial wherewithal to be able to hire all these different professionals that we just talked about, go to www.SavvyLadies.org. Savvy is spelled S-A-V-V-Y-L-A-D-I-E-S.org. Go right on there, and there’s great information. You can click to be connected with our amazing executive director, to be matched up with a CFP for our help line. If you do need a certified divorce financial analyst to help you through your divorce, you can reach out to me. It’s Stacy, S-T-A-C-Y, at Francis Financial. You can also go on our website, FrancisFinancial.com. There’s a lot of great content on there as far as things you need to start thinking about, how you can protect yourself, how you can avoid these mistakes that these women shared that they made to make sure that you are in a good, solid, secure position, not only through your divorce but, even more importantly, after.
Jennifer Butler: Amazing. Thank you. Thank you so much your time, for your work, I mean, for having the courage to just shift into something that, really, I think is changing the world. I appreciate you.
Stacy Francis: Thank you.
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