What springs to mind when you think about your health? Your physical health, most likely. Hopefully your mental and emotional health too. But what about your financial health?
Your attitude to money is crucial because it can have a domino effect on the rest of your health. If you are constantly in battle with your finances, or avoiding them, it will bring stress. And, most likely, it will mean you make poorer choices.
I’m not going to pretend you can simply ‘think yourself richer’. It doesn’t work like that. But, whatever the state of your finances, the mindset you bring will make a difference. Whether you’re at your wits’ end because there’s not enough money, or whether you’re overwhelmed because your financial situation is plentiful but incredibly complicated, a healthy mindset will help. So here’s how to have a healthy financial mindset for divorce.
What’s your money story?
First of all, it’s important to get honest about your attitude to money. We are humans, and we make sense of the world through stories. We develop attitudes about right and wrong, what’s possible, what’s important, and then much of how we see the world is filtered through these attitude lenses. And often, they are formed in childhood, without us even realising.
Being aware of your money story is critical. Because when you are aware you are empowered to act. It might be that your money story is helping you – which is great. But for many women the opposite is true. And if that’s the case for you too, you need to unpick those stories so you can have a healthy foundation to your relationship with money. You can read all about money stories and how to understand yours here.
Money is not your enemy
There are so many reasons we have to fear money. Take a look and see if any of these have happened to you:
- In the past, you’ve been ripped off
- You’ve spent money on something that wasn’t worth it
- Now or in the past you’ve been short of money
- You’ve been given bad advice about what to do with your money
- Someone has treated you badly because of money
Chances are, whatever your bank balance, you’ll say yes to at least one of these – probably more. Having bad financial experiences understandably can make us wary of money. It can make us want to avoid financial discussions, or letters with the bank’s logo on the envelope.
But I want to remind you of something you already know deep down. Money isn’t the enemy here. If you were given bad advice, or made a bad choice, that’s not money’s fault. It might be that you put your trust in the wrong person. Or needed more information. Or that you simply didn’t have enough money. But money itself isn’t out to get you. It’s simply there as a resource.
And you can choose to work hand in hand with money to get the best possible outcome for you.
Focussing on money does not mean you’re a bad person
Here’s another thing I often hear from clients. They feel ‘dirty’ talking about money, as though it makes them shallow.
Or they say ‘I just want my children to be happy, I don’t care about the money’, or ‘I just want out, I can walk away without a penny’.
And I understand these thoughts. Money isn’t the be-all and end-all. Research shows that once our needs are met, extra money doesn’t necessarily bring happiness. But the research also shows that not enough money can bring stress and other illnesses, as well as all sorts of practical problems.
So don’t dismiss money from your future planning. You deserve enough to live on. And, if it comes to court intervention, they will seek to ensure your needs are met. And, by the way, your needs being met doesn’t necessarily mean having just enough to get by. It means, as far as possible, your standard of living post-divorce being consistent with your standard of living during marriage.
You deserve to be comfortable and happy. And, unfortunately, your ex-spouse won’t necessarily have your best interests at heart. So you need to be your own best ally and advocate. And that involves working with your financial situation.
Be you with your money
My clients, especially high net worth clients, and those with more than enough money to meet basic needs, are often told to stop spending during their divorce. This is not sound advice. And here’s why.
When the courts consider your financial situation they will take into account a number of factors, often known as the ‘Section 25 factors’. These include consideration of the standard of living you had during your marriage, and your future needs. So if you were used to several overseas holidays a year, and there are enough assets in the marriage for that to continue, it is reasonable to get a financial settlement that allows for such travel.
So my advice would not be to stop spending. Rather, be consistent with your spending. Suddenly blowing all your money on fancy cars and holidays when that wasn’t in your previous spending history won’t be looked upon kindly. Certainly don’t hide or dispose of assets – that’s fraud. But there’s no reason why you need to suddenly start living on beans on toast either.
Make choices that serve you
If money’s a limited resource, it’s something you need to use wisely. And so we need to address the number one myth about divorce: that you need to get a solicitor straight away. You absolutely don’t. Why not? In short, because you need to spend some time understanding what you want and need first. Yes, your solicitor can help you with that – but they are not trained coaches or therapists. And they charge a lot more! So it’s an expensive way to work through your emotions.
Solicitors are legal professionals and can give you advice on navigating the legal process. But before you embark on that process you need to get clarity. Clarity on what’s important to you. Then you can instruct a solicitor accordingly.
We often hope that by engaging a professional, we can make our problems go away. And that is absolutely the case in some areas. If you can afford to hire a cleaner, they can make your house sparkle – job done. But it’s not the same with your divorce. You can’t delegate it fully. Because it’s about your life and your choices. So you might want to pay a solicitor from the very start in the hope it will make life easier. And, yes, a solicitor can advise you on what’s possible within the scope of the law. But, actually, you will save yourself a lot of time and money if you get your head in the game first.
Get clarity, direction and confidence
That’s where I come in. A day with me with enable you to cover so much ground:
- It’s a safe, confidential place to let it all out
- I’ll help you make sense of where things are now
- We can look at where you want to be after divorce
- I can help you make sense of the possibilities within the legal system
- We can make a plan together
- We can ensure a healthy financial mindset
And, armed with that plan, you’ll be able to spend your money wisely – whether that’s on financial advice, a legal team, or simply making the right choices for your life going forward.
Let me help you develop a healthy money mindset for your divorce and beyond. Book a call with me today.
Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is the author of the Amazon best-selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. Emma is also the host of The Six-Minute Divorce Podcast. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com