As a Divorce Coach, nothing makes me sadder than a client who has no idea what they and their soon to be ex-spouse own or owe. Their fear of the unknown is devastating as they don’t know what to do about their marriage breakdown and are panicking, worried and do not know how to pay for any help. If you are part of a couple or completely on your own, not knowing your own financial situation serves no one. Not you, not your partner, no one. In fact, your lack of knowledge may cost you and benefit your partner if you ever file for a divorce because it may result in costly mistakes during negotiations.
Ignorance ≠ Bliss!
Not paying attention = making good decisions is very difficult.
Not paying attention = you cannot make realistic plans.
Not paying attention = you will not take action to improve things.
Not paying attention = you are not in control.
Not paying attention = stress and worry.
It’s easy to say that financials are boring. I get it. Some people have no interest in numbers. Some don’t want to think about the bills or the costs of a home. Many find math too difficult and tedious. Some people seem to believe that ignorance can equal bliss. This bliss, for many, may have a very thin veneer. If you look carefully at people who have no idea about their finances, there is still anxiety and unease about the unknowns. They may also feel insecure and dependent, which may erode trust, shut down communication, diminish self-worth, and lead to unbalanced and unhealthy relationships.
If you lose your partner through death or divorce, you may soon regret your lack of interest in money matters. Emotionally charged life changes are already overwhelming without adding extra unknowns and financial concerns.
Stop ignoring your finances.
Get over it. Facing the reality of your finances is always empowering and can be very motivating. Financials don’t have to be overly complicated or difficult. Keep things simple and take control!
Thankfully, most couples are not dishonest or devious with finances, but be aware that some people will hide things they are ashamed of or embarrassed about. Not tracking your finances makes money moving and potentially disappearing much more tempting if there are any financial problems. Keeping your eyes on things is the first defense to protect your assets. Unfortunately, I do hear of moved investments, emptied bank accounts, overdue invoices that money was paid for, maxed out credit cards and lines of credit that have been drawn up to the limit that one partner in the couple is not aware of until a relationship problem starts and they start checking. It is not a pleasant surprise to find savings depleted or debts sky high during already difficult emotional times. Usually it could have been avoided or minimized if there was more attention paid, more accountability and some shared monitoring.
How do we relate to our finances and why?
Finances are something we first learn from the example our families set. We often learn bad habits and bad attitudes without realizing that we have other choices. What did you learn from your family that is useful?
Did you learn that one person runs the finances?
Often at the start of a relationship, especially a more traditional marriage, one partner takes on most of the business side of the household. They may be paying the bills, doing the taxes and planning for retirement, investment, and living expenses. This can be either partner, but often we do what our parents did.
Did you learn that everyone has his or her own money?
Recently, in relationships with both partners working, I see couples who have never even discussed their finances or future plans. Partner’s salaries, savings or debt are all unknowns. Basic philosophies on spending and saving are not discussed. Everyone pays their own expenses and keeps their own money. This may appear like a good plan on the surface, but the lack of communication and shared goals may be a red flag for the relationship. Both the finances and the long-term health of the relationship can suffer when there is no accountability or shared responsibility taken on as a couple.
Did you learn that ignoring the finances was okay?
I would also like to note that people living on their own, as well as some couples, sometimes avoid stress by not looking at their finances and just pretend everything is okay, but stress and worry are usually just under the surface. This strategy can be a disaster if spending is outpacing earnings. Unfortunately, credit today is not too difficult to get and people get into a great deal of debt without realizing the implications of their spending habits.
Did you learn that money was something to be discussed openly and honestly?
If you were lucky enough to have a family that was open about discussing financial goals and helping you learn the basics you are very fortunate and are probably much more familiar and comfortable with finances.
Please start looking over your financials!
Set yourself up to learn what you need to learn!
Find some control and reduce your stress levels!
Stay tuned for Part 2: Knowledge = Control!
Please contact me if you would like some help with planning your future. I can help you get the knowledge you need to feel good about what you do have and what steps you need to take to get where you want to be with your finances and your life! To be clear I do not offer financial investment advice but I do offer helpful tools, resources, and information to get you started looking at your finances.
I do offer a strategy session.
Take good care of yourself!
The Separation Project Coach