I write about money fairly regularly on the blog. Why? Because it’s a massive issue in divorce. It’s not just one of the biggest negotiations you’ll have to contend with, it’s a flashpoint for all sorts of emotions, and conflict with your ex-spouse. It’s a huge thing to navigate, and it’s one of the most important I can help you with.
But one of the issues I haven’t addressed here in much detail, is why it’s so important to make friends with money. You might read that and cringe. But it’s true. Unless you make friends with money, you are not going to get the best out of it. Just like you mostly don’t see the best, most interesting aspects of people until you’re friends with them. So, settle in, pour a coffee: this asks you to go for a ride and get creative. Stick with it! It’s a critical, foundational piece of coaching work you’re about to begin.
If you were to imagine money as a person, who do you conjure up?
Before we get into why and how to make friends with money, let’s get into what your current relationship with money is like. If you were to imagine money as a person, who comes to mind? Is it someone you’d like to be friends with?
When I did this exercise, I pictured one of those old fashioned bankers – you know, the kind like in Mary Poppins, with the black suits and the bowler hats. Is that someone I’d choose to spend time with? No!
When I’ve asked others about this, a whole array of different characters have shown up:
- Dickens-style moneylenders or pickpockets, definitely untrustworthy
- A floaty hippie, not someone to rely on
- A strict headteacher, telling you what you’re allowed to do, or not.
It’s time to try it for yourself. Who do you picture when you picture money? Go with your gut instinct, don’t overthink it.
Let’s talk about friendship
What are the important elements of friendship for you? For me, they include these things:
- Trust: I need to know my friends have my back
- Belonging: I want to be able to show up as I am, not have to pretend to be someone I’m not, or to like things I don’t like
- Fun: what are friends for if not to enjoy life with?
All of these things are true for money as well. It’s important to develop a mindset where money has your back, where you can be yourself, and you can enjoy life. This is helpful at any stage in life, but it’s especially important to make friends with money during divorce.
Can you befriend this person?
We’re getting deeper into this now. Keep your money person in mind. Now think about whether this is someone you can be friends with. A word of warning: don’t automatically assume it isn’t! Just because your money person is a different age, personality type, gender, whatever to you, perhaps there’s scope to befriend them right now. Only Murders In The Building, the Steve Martin murder mystery comedy series on Disney features an unlikely sleuthing trio of a 29 year old woman and two men in their seventies. It works (and it’s lots of fun!).
Perhaps, if you saw a banker bowler hat person, like I did, once you started chatting with them they’d tell you they felt stifled by their job and their appearance. Maybe under that bowler hat they have bright blue hair, or wish they did! Let yourself get creative with this. Have a mental conversation with your money person. Or, even better, write it out. See what they are actually like once you try to get to know them.
My money person just isn’t my type!
Don’t worry if you can’t make friends with your money person as you originally pictured them. There’s another way into this. Go back to thinking about all the things you want out of friendship. Now, picture a person (real or imagined) who offers those things.
In my case, I couldn’t see myself getting comfortable spending time with my bowler-hatted banker. I wanted someone I could have a cocktail with, go to the cinema with, sit down for a coffee with. So I reimagined money as this sort of friend. And I really got to know them.
OK, I have a more friendly relationship with this money person, what now?
Now is when it gets real. Now is when you start to act as though money is your friend. What do I mean by this?
First of all, I DON’T mean, just start spending money you don’t have. Maxing out credit cards and expecting money or the universe to come to your rescue is not very friendly behaviour! A good friendship is based on give and take, and mutual understanding. You need to play your part, to expect money to play theirs.
Start with values. Friends will often share values, or at least have compatible ones. What are your values, when it comes to life? Money is your friend to help you put those values into practice. Start seeing money as an ally. And start noticing whether you are living your values.
Respect is also a key foundation to your newly strengthened friendship with money. Respect your money by giving it some attention. Notice where your money goes. Think about how you can look after it. Notice where it shows up in your life. As with so many things, the more we pay attention, the more we realise what’s around us: whether it’s the tenner slipped into your birthday card from Auntie Gladys, the discount on your home insurance from shopping around, or the opportunity to go for a promotion at work.
Finally, and I realise this will sound ‘woo’, get into the habit of asking money for help. Be clear on what you want to use the money for. And put it out there that you’d like money to make it happen. It’s not magic, it won’t work on its own – but it will have you being a lot more conscious about what’s important. And that is a very powerful force in itself.
What’s your money archetype?
I’m a huge believer in giving credit where it’s due, and lots of my mindset shifts around money come from the teaching of Denise Duffield Thomas. Denise helps people (mostly female entrepreneurs) release their fear of money.
She has a really fun tool to help with this: Sacred Money Archetypes. It’s a quick quiz to help you understand your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to money. I found it’s a really helpful way of understanding more about yourself too! Take a moment to do the quiz, and, if you’d like to, message me and tell me who you are! I’m a Nurturer, in case you were interested…
Want help making friends with money during your divorce?
Empowering women to be confident with money is one of my passions. Because divorce is about freedom and independence: and so is financial empowerment! As a divorce coach I’m here to help you with the practical decision making around your divorce, including navigating the financial settlement.
I’m also here to help you with your money mindset. I know how powerful mindset shifts can be for women in divorce: it’s like seeing the bulb go from dim to shimmering as you do this work!
Join me, and other empowered women, over in The Absolute Academy. For just £225/month (that’s what some lawyers charge per hour!) you’ll get live training, weekly Q&As, resources and toolkits, not to mention an amazing bunch of women to share the journey with. See you in there!
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