By Tom Breiter, Integra Capital Advisors
If you’ve just gone through a divorce or the death of your spouse, you now find yourself “suddenly single.” It doesn’t matter if you were blindsided or saw it coming for years, this is surely a challenging time for you. For many women, one of the hardest parts of becoming suddenly single is the financial impact.
After working with numerous women in your position over the years, I have identified what I believe are the top 5 financial planning challenges you face.
While you know this is one of your biggest challenges, you may be surprised to see it on a financial planning list. It’s here because finances are emotional. Your actions and decisions, no matter how rational or irrational they are, are intricately linked to your emotions.
Some people might tell you that in this season you have to work really hard to “manage your emotions.” I’m not going to tell you that because I know that’s simply not possible. Sometimes your emotions are going to get the upper hand and you’ll be doing everything you can to just hang on for the ride.
It is more important, and more realistic, for you to just recognize your emotions. Recognize what it is that you’re feeling and going through and how your emotions are fluctuating. Recognize how your different emotions affect your decisions. And then be wise about what emotional state you are in when you make decisions. If you need to hold off on making a decision until the emotional roller coaster is in a better place, do it. Don’t let anyone pressure you to conform to their time table or you may end up making decisions you’ll later regret.
A lot of people will be pushing you to make decisions right now when you may not be in a place to be making them. Because of this, it is really important to prioritize the decisions you face. You need to save your emotional and physical energy for the most pressing decisions and put everything else off until later.
Most of the decisions that seem urgent really can and should wait. While there are some decisions that will need to be made right away, things like investments and selling assets can wait until you are in a stronger place and can think through your decisions more clearly.
Some of the immediate decisions you will have to make will likely be regarding cash flow, or how your money flows in and out of your hands. If your spouse was the main breadwinner, you may need to make lifestyle-related decisions in order to accommodate a lower monthly income. It can be helpful during this transition period to sit down with a financial professional to review your cash flow situation and how to adjust your spending to avoid going into debt.
Whether you are suddenly single through death or divorce, you will need to update your estate plan. This is especially important if you have divorced and your ex-husband is listed as a beneficiary on any of your accounts. You don’t want to wait a long time to make those updates lest you forget or something happens to you.
As you go through this transition, it is important to take the time to reflect on how you want your affairs handled when you are gone. What kind of legacy do you want to leave? The decision is completely up to you now, so you have the freedom to do whatever you want with what you have.
Limited Investment Knowledge
The final challenge that many suddenly single women face is not having a lot of investment experience or knowledge. This is especially the case in situations where the spouse managed all of the family finances. It is hard to go from never having made an investment decision to having to make them all.
Luckily, this is one of the easiest challenges to overcome. A little education and you’ll be a confident and capable investor long before your emotions have fully recovered. A good financial advisor can teach you everything you need to know. When choosing one, make sure they are willing to take the time to teach you about investments and verify that you know what you’re doing before making any decisions and that they are open and honest about any potential conflicts of interest.
How We Can Help
We work primarily with clients who desire our personal yet structured process for planning and investing that relieves them of the day-to-day worry of the financial markets with freedom to pursue what they value most and allows them to feel confident and reassured. We call this process the “Waypoint Formula.”Call us today at 941-778-1900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to plan your path to financial freedom.