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Are you a woman going through transition? Maybe you’re going through (or have recently experienced) a divorce. Or widowhood. Or you’re changing your career. Or launching a new business as a woman entrepreneur.
Some of you may have one or more if these steps in place. Others may not know how to write a check (or pay bills online). Wherever you’re coming from, you can discover the knowledge to manage your own money.
“Confusion is the hallmark of a transition. To rebuild both your inner and outer world is a major project.” — Anne Grant
1. It’s a new chapter
However you got to this place in time, you got here. You’re not a victim.
I’m going to be blunt here: in other words, stop whining.
Just because your spouse is no longer with you doesn’t mean you are no longer lovable or worthy of love. You may or may not find another spouse. Either one of those things is OK! Stop following the ex on social media. Don’t let what they’re doing affect your life.
Whether you’re married, divorced, widowed or not, stop letting other people control you and your moods. The great thing is that now your life is in your own hands, not anyone else’s.
Not accustomed to that? Or haven’t had that experience in a long time? Recognize and savor the fact that your life is all yours.
No matter what your marital or financial situation is at the moment. Move forward as if you and you alone are solely responsible for your financial livelihood.
Yes, the last chapter of your life is over. Whether it was a career or a spouse, you’ve reached the end of it.
That does not mean the book is over.
It means that a fresh new chapter awaits.
2. Get a grip
On your finances! I tell newbies to personal finance that you need to know the four basics, if you don’t already.
How much is coming in, how much is going out, how much you own, and how much you owe.
If you’ve already got a handle on that, congratulations and good job! If not, you just need to do a little homework.
You can use online apps to track your spending. I told a potential client the other day that she needed to track her spending for a few months. Then we’d develop a spending plan. She’d told me she’d tried writing all her spending down, but gave up after a while.
Of course she did! Even I, little miss old-school when it comes to things, use automated tracking! Good grief! And she wasn’t 90 years old either.
You can track your spending either online, or download your transactions from your bank and credit cards to work it out.
Look at your pay stubs (usually online), w-9, 1099s, etc. to figure out your income. See what’s coming out in terms of taxes, retirement contributions, etc.
What you own includes any retirement or brokerage (taxable) accounts, savings, property (less the mortgage amount if any). What you owe is your mortgage, vehicle loans, student loans, and credit card debt.
Have you figured those four categories out now? If so, congratulations! Feel free to do your homework & then come back to this post to get your congratulations if you need to. No judgment!
3. Prior planning prevents poor performance
After you’ve done your homework, you know where you stand financially. The next question is, where do you want to be?
There are some pretty common goals that you have or should have. Are you in debt? You want to be debt-free, other than mortgage and student loans. It’s OK to hang on to those until you’ve achieved some other goals.
In order to pay off your credit cards, home equity loan, vehicle loan, etc. you’ll need a plan.
You want a reasonably comfortable retirement. No, you won’t be able to work full-time until you’re 90. Stash money away for when you won’t be able to work either as much or at all.
You want the ability to avoid living paycheck to paycheck. Which means having money available for emergencies.
Optionally, you may want to buy a house. Put the kids through college. Start your own business. Or all three! Or be able to work remotely, or spend more time traveling, or…
Therefore, you need a plan.
Most plans should include the following:
- Pay off your nonsecured debt.
- Build up an emergency fund.
- Set money aside for retirement.
Pretty much everyone needs to do these! Unless you’re already debt-free and/or already have an emergency fund. Or you’re already retired.
Note that you also need some estate planning. Will, power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, etc. This may not be financial planning exactly, but it’s still necessary for your plan.
Other than these three items, your plans will differ.
If you’re starting over due to the loss of a spouse, the list above might take care of it.
But if you’re changing careers, you have some additional groundwork to cover. Even if you’re top in your field — especially if you’re top and starting a radically different career — your first year in business will most likely be hard. You won’t make much money. If any at all.
Ask me how I know this!
Trust me, success is not happening your first year. Given that, you need to know how you’re going to fund your living expenses.
This is true even if you’re currently married and your spouse makes a good income. What if something happens to your spouse during that first year? Hopefully it doesn’t! But if you’ve prepared, it doesn’t have to be a financial disaster.
The money you need may come from a much bigger cash reserve. (That’s how I did it.) It could be credit cards, retirement funds, neither of which I recommend, by the way! But sometimes that’s what it takes.
Will you need additional training or certifications? Those usually cost money, so add that to the budget. You probably will need to seriously cut back on spending. Particularly if you’re not already living frugally, to give you business a little more runway.
Set up separate business checking and credit cards.That way, you can link them to your bookkeeping software (I use Quickbooks.) Transactions automatically download into your software. This will make your life so much easier.
If there’s some aspect of running a business you’ve never had to do before, like marketing, bookkeeping, or creating a business plan, try your local SBA office. They have free or no cost classes.
When you’re bootstrapping, you’ll be doing a lot of this stuff yourself, at least at first. Once you get to a certain point you can start outsourcing. However, by knowing how to do it yourself, you’ll be able to tell if it’s being done properly.
Here we are! Wherever “here” is for each of us.
Now’s your opportunity to create a life for yourself that’s meaningful and taps into your own personal values. Whatever those might be.
Set yourself up for success financially. Just some basic steps will get you where you need to go.
Want more transition period tips? Looking to make a change in your life? I, the Desert Diva, am here for you! Along with the rest of the hive. Click here to join the BB*hive.