How To Secure The Bag and Plan Your Finances After Divorce
“I knew the time was now to begin preparing my financial strategy.”
As I was standing there holding the phone in dismay, I realized at that moment my life had changed forever. My husband wanted a divorce, and me being the one that tries to keep it all together, instantly fell apart.
How would this impact me emotionally, spiritually, mentally — and then it hit me — financially! He was the breadwinner years in advance. I remember once saying, “Let’s not get this house because if anything happens to us, I won’t be able to pay the mortgage!” Wow, I spoke that into existence.
Each day I felt the load of his stressful workday as I laid beside him listening to him vent. He hated his job. I had just given him my approval to move to Baltimore to live in an apartment while maintaining our home in Glen Allen, VA.
Only four months after making his transition to Baltimore, he tells me that he’s leaving me after 18 years of being together. Financially, will I be okay? Instantly, I began to think about the adjustments I’d have to make. Would I need to move out? What’s my plan?
At that moment, I saw separation peeking its head in the door and on the way to our divorce destination. I knew the time was now to begin preparing my financial strategy. I dubbed it my “FAST Formula.” Fasting may consist of prayer and fasting, which is ridding yourself of toxicities. It’s a commitment to go without anything while you pray and gain clarity from God and to receive his directions.
But, this was a different type of FAST. This was Shelly Shelton’s formula F.A.S.T. It stood for Financial Analysis Statement Today. Yep, today. I was determined not to wait until I received divorced papers from him to determine my financial destiny. So, I took a day off from work to focus on gathering everything, in addition to seeking out a lawyer to get myself prepared for what could be coming from him to attack me personally and financially.
I cleared off my desk and went to work. Okay, here’s the list of things I gathered and grabbed the numbers for:
- Balance in checking account
- List of repetitive items that are drafted from checking account
- Balance in a savings account
- Repetitive items drafted from a savings account
- Mutual funds
- Value of paintings
- Value of land
- Status of your debt: credit card or debt
- Status of debt: mortgage (the only thing we had both of our names on)
- Investment properties
- What’s shared between me and spouse: mortgage, credit cards, car payments, etc.
- Safe-deposit box
- My will
- Accounts where he is listed as the beneficiary
- Life insurance/beneficiary
- My savings goal
After I assessed my financial stability right now, I determined that I needed to budget, cut back on areas (like cell phone extras, eating out, etc), and trim down percentages on some of my investments. So, I did the opposite — I maxed out my 401K. I determined that I would not have any issues paying my necessities, but I would no longer meet my savings goal.
He had for a long time been telling me, “Save your money, Midge!” Evidently, for years, he had been planning to leave and was trying to get me to save so I wouldn’t be in financial ruins when he walked out the door. Originally, I thought he was being a good husband, I soon realized it was all a part of the plan.
If you are reading this and you determine that you will no longer be able to pay for your necessities once you transition into separation and divorce, now is the time to create a strategy to secure the bag by having extra streams of income. Now’s the time to determine the things that give you purpose and what you love to do outside of a full-time job. Use your talents!
So to meet my saving goals, I worked a full-time job, created five side gigs, and worked myself silly, tirelessly. As a result, I wrote and published three books, created an accountability community, built an international women’s group founded on biblical principles (Lady LIONS), founded the Aspiring Speakers Academy teaching women how to speak their truth, and the list goes on.
What talents are you not putting to financial use? Don’t be shy about your talents, secure your bag, and reap the rewards.
Shelly Shelton is a motivational speaker, author, and a savvy businesswoman. Check out her podcast, The Bounce Back for more advice on life after a divorce.