By Jennifer Giamo
Let me start by saying, I have always worked. I have always had my “own” money and my own bank accounts. However, throughout my marriage, my husband earned the majority of our income. Yes, we shared some expenses but we definitely didn’t rely on my salary.
Unfortunately, neither of us were very good at managing our money so when my husband suggested hiring a Business Manager, I was all in. From that moment forward, I never saw a bill; not an electric bill, a phone bill, a cable bill, a mortgage bill – nothing. It was all being “taken care of”. Everything and anything related to finances was being handled by our Business Manager. I realize that this situation is probably uncommon and one that, in retrospect, I do not advise.
Being in the dark about my finances during my marriage was not smart. Staying in the dark after the divorce was not an option. From the very first day I took back control, I uncovered some outrageous things. One of the goals in hiring a Business Manager was so that he could make the best decisions for our money, ensure that we were maximizing it and maybe even profit from some investments. This could not have been further from what I discovered.
The first discovery came when re-financing my mortgage. The interest rate we had been paying (on 3 properties) was 6.75% on an interest-only mortgage! We weren’t even paying down the principle. Even with knowing nothing about the market, I knew this was way too high. We had been at this rate through the market crash when people were getting rates as low as 3%! The amount of money we had been wasting was unfathomable. I refinanced the mortgage and reduced it by fifty percent. Now I am living in the same apartment, paying half of what we were spending for 10 years.
Being in the dark about my finances during my marriage was not smart. Staying in the dark after the divorce was not an option.
The second discovery was in our investment portfolio (or lack thereof). The investments remained unchanged from the day we handed over control of the portfolio to the day we got divorced. None of the funds were moved and no contributions were made to the existing ones.
In order to pick up the pieces and become financially fit, I had to get organized. I made a list of all of my expenses and set up online banking for all of my bills so that they would get paid automatically. I downloaded an app called Mint that allows me to link my bank accounts, set up a budget, track my spending and see where I can make changes to maximize my money.
I was able to identify where I was overspending, make adjustments and cut back on the unnecessary expenses. This allowed me to have more money in my pocket or to increase the amount I contributed towards investments each month.
I hired a trustworthy accountant to help with my taxes and provide financial advice for my business. This has given me a sense of comfort in knowing that my income is being properly reported and the appropriate deductions are being calculated for my business expenses.
Aside from managing money more effectively, I also looked at ways I could earn more. As a health and fitness professional there are opportunities to expand my business, take on more clients and develop new programs. I knew that in order to do this, I needed to also look at marketing strategies. I employed a part-time, Social Media Manager to assist on this end and I could not be happier with the results. It’s a slow process but so worth it.
I started to teach more group fitness classes, I began to write articles for online publications and got involved with a start-up company a few hours per week. I was finding ways to supplement my income any way I knew how. I learned a lot along the way and continue to grow and develop in ways I never thought I could. If I hadn’t gotten divorced, I never would have explored any of these ideas. I didn’t have to. I was complacent. I lacked motivation because there was nothing driving me to do anything more. Now I realize, I was missing out on so many great opportunities. I am fortunate to love what I do and I am grateful for every chance I have been given.
When you are put in a position of sink or swim, grab that life jacket and keep going!
P.S. Success is the best revenge!
About the Author
Jennifer Giamo is an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Education, and the founder of Trainers in Transit LLC.