By Jennifer Butler
I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be writing an article offering financial guidance, and as you continue to read, you will understand why. As I am sure many of you can relate to, going through my divorce was an emotional, terrifying, and confusing experience. When I look back now, I can see clearly that I was basically a walking zombie for the first couple of years, even though at the time I thought I was doing just fine. I mean, sure I was angry and sad, and definitely spent a lot of time crying, but I was also stubborn and strong willed and determined to make it on my own. Not just “make it” though, I was going to prove to everyone that I was better without him.
And that is where my story begins…
Throughout my marriage, I took a back seat when it came to finances. I had chosen to enter a career that did not offer a high earning potential and when I became pregnant, I decided I would stay home with my son. My ex was in finance. Well, more than that, he was a financial wizard. So somewhere along the way I made the decision to hand over all financial related issues and decisions to him. I turned a blind eye and just trusted that part of my life to be taken care of for me.
I had always been taught to make sure to have my own money, keeping a separate account for myself in case of an emergency and simply to maintain some of my own independence. This was something I believed in, until I didn’t. As I gave up my own power over my financial well-being, I felt anxious, but it was simply easier to ignore these worries and bury any concerns that I had. When I look back, I can see that I had created this false belief that I was not smart when it came to money and therefore had nothing valuable to contribute in this area. I decided I had no ground to stand on and enjoyed living according to the saying “ignorance is bliss.”
If I am being honest, for a long while it was blissful. I lived a financially blessed life, having everything I could ever want and more. My ex and I had this unspoken understanding where I took care of our home and our son, while he took care of our money. I became used to being provided for and over time, I got to this place of expecting to be financially taken care of forever.
And then came the divorce…
Well, I am sure you can imagine the fear that took hold of me when my marriage ended and I realized I had to financially manage myself. I was terrified, emotional, completely unskilled AND equally had something to prove. Needless to say, this combination was an appetite for disaster. I made a ton of mistakes and learned a lot of tough lessons, but fortunately I survived to share them with you now.
1. Don’t make decisions from an emotional state
If I was anything after my divorce, I was emotional. Every feeling, insecurity, doubt, and fear cycled through me at lightning speeds on a daily basis, which resulted in my distraction and clouded judgement. Proving a point became such a focus point for me that I missed red flags that were waving brightly in my face.
2. Don’t skip out on getting educated
As a result of being fueled by the intensity of my emotion alone, I blindly made choices based on what I wanted. I never took the time to educate myself about best practices, common mistakes, or safe options. As a result, I made extremely risky financial decisions and suffered some really big losses.
3. Don’t trust in someone’s opinion
I learned the hard way that there are people in the world who will gladly take advantage of those who are willing to be taken advantage of. Some red flags I missed, others I chose to ignore, all in the name of proving my own success and ability to do it on my own. I learned the hard way that not everyone has my best interest at heart and trusting blindly is a decision to give away my power.
4. Don’t shut out your loved ones
Going along with my need to prove my abilities, I had also set out to prove I didn’t need anyone to help me either. I kept the financial decisions I was making to myself, not sharing any of the process with my trusted friends and family. The people who actually had my back were never given the opportunity to help protect me when I needed them most.
5. Never make big decisions in the first year
Like I said earlier in this article, looking back I realize I was a walking zombie. I thought I was doing just fine, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t thinking clearly, felt numb, and was not fully connected and grounded in reality. Anyone who has experienced any sort of trauma or tragedy can probably relate to this. The period of grief and mourning is not the time to make any sort of huge life decisions or changes. As I look back I understand that I should have been keeping things simple so that I could focus on healing.
I know this is not your typical article about finances, but I do hope this helps you to avoid making some of the mistakes I made. Give yourself the time and space you need so that you can thrive on your own and create your own success. This is an opportunity for you to grow and empower yourself along the way.
About the Author
Jennifer Butler is a writer and transformation coach, currently working as a community leader for DivorceForce. Beyond an extensive education, Jennifer also went through a life transformation as a result of her own divorce and has dedicated her work to supporting others. You can connect with Jennifer at JennJoyCoaching and on Instagram.