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Recovering from a divorce always entails a mixture of emotions and ups and downs.  In addition to the emotional roller coaster comes the financial fear that at times seems to paralyze people.  It’s simple math. . . 2 incomes are better than one income, and if you were married, but didn’t work outside of the home, you’ve gone from one income, to no income. I know that reality can be quite scary and overwhelming. I know because I was there myself and that is why I am here to tell you that this financial burden and fear  you may experience right now is not the end all, and be all.

Yes, it’s scary and it sucks, but it is not what your life will be like in a year from now (or maybe even less), and there is a ton of potential to make changes that can turn your challenges into incredible blessings.

Here are some suggestions of things I think you should start with:.

  1. Change your Money Mindset:  Try to NOT think about money as a bad thing (debt, bills, collections, etc).  Instead see it as an opportunity and a tool for which you will be the master of.  When you stop worrying about money, and start focusing on how you will increase your quality of life, and take control of your life,  you will shift your energy from scarcity to abundance and that is the first step to attaining financial freedom.
  2. Don’t live beyond your means.  Yes, you might come from a 5000 square foot home, or the most luxurious condo in your city, but it’s time to face reality.  Don’t sign up for anything you can’t comfortably afford.  Take a step back and reevaluate what your priorities are. When I was marriage I lived in a beautiful condo that I realistically couldn’t afford after my divorce. I moved onto my parents two family home and created a  beautiful cozy home for my daughter and myself. It served us amazingly well and we have some of the best memories of those years. If things are really challenging for your right now consider living with a friend or relative is an option!   It’s only temporary (assuming you make the other changes that I am listing in this post).  Save where you can, don’t overindulge and be mindful of things you need vs. what you want.   
  3. Save automatically.  There are several ways to save automatically, but one of the best ways is to put a small percentage of your earnings into a savings account. Once funds are in savings, forget about them!  If you have to open a whole new bank account to prevent yourself from being tempted, do that.  If you can’t see it every time you login to your online banking, you’re less likely to spend it.  If you ever do spend it, I can assure you, you will regret it.
  4. Have a Plan: Know how much money you ideally need to live comfortably.  Then ask yourself how are you going to make that income?  What resources do you have to accomplish that plan?  How fast could you make that plan a reality?   I get that these are all very broad and open ended questions, but they are only for you to answer. Here is a great tool you can download for FREE to help you get clarity on your expenses https://pearlflaxfinancialfreedom.gr8.com/ (the best part is that I programmed the sheet to do all the math for you :)!
  5. Check your Credit: One thing you don’t want to do is let months go by and you realize that your credit is now shot because you had debts you either didn’t know about, or had forgotten about because your spouse handled paying the bills.  As soon as you can, check your credit.  Know how much debt you have, who is owed and ensure that managing any personal debt is part of your budget and your plan.  If you find that you are in more debt than you can afford, make the right calls with the debtors and let them know you are having some difficulty.  As long as you communicate with them, they will find a way to work with you.  It’s when you ignore them that gets you nowhere and only damages your credit.

I know that you might be in a place where your financial challenges might feel paralyzing, but instead of allowing them to drain and control you, use them to motivate and challenge yourself to think creatively and tap into your resilience.   Follow these manageable steps and a year from now (maybe sooner), you will look back and appreciate how you got to where you are. I know the struggle is real, very real, and I had days I didn’t know how to feed my child, but I never gave up and I knew I could be more and do more. YOU ARE MADE of so much more and you will rise above this! I did and SO CAN YOU!

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Jingle Bell, Jungle Bell, jingle all around…. ! It’s that time of the year again. How crazy is that? Feels like this year totally flew by. With all the happiness, lights, celebrations and fun that the Holidays bring they also bring stress. The holidays have always been a combination of beautiful and hard, and are even harder for single parents.  Back in the day when I was divorced, I used to dread holidays, they were the hardest time of the year. You just feel so single, so alone, so misplaced and as happy as I was to be single and divorced, the holidays just weren’t an easy time to navigate.  While I know this time of the year is surely challenging for you if you are that single parent, it is very important to also recognize that the season is very hard for your kids as well.  Finances may be tight, the struggle with the balance of time with your kids during the holidays may be limited, and you may even feel like you need to overcompensate in several ways. That sense of pressure can project onto your children and instead of bringing them joy backfire.

Here is what I want you to know and what I have learned the hard way. The most important thing to your children is your time and love. You do NOT need to spend a ton of money on trips, gifts or God knows what to show them that you love them. And if the other parent is in a competition to buy them off with materialistic things, don’t worry, things never compete with love.

Here are some ideas of ways to make the holidays special and memorable without breaking the bank, preserving your sanity and creating a truly happy home!

Tour Holiday Lights: Where we lived when my daughter was little, there was this awesome cool Italian neighborhood. The houses where decorated magically. Literally like a Christmas wonderland. I used to drive around there every year and just enjoy the beauty and creativity of those homes with my little princess and take lots of pictures. So take a walk or hop in the car.  It doesn’t have to be a formal holiday lights tour, you can likely pick a neighborhood and just cruise around in it like I used to do.  If there are some local holiday light tours, consider checking them out, but if they are more than a few bucks or a donation, take the other route and save money where you can.

Make new Traditions: Traditions are created to be repeated and remembered for years to come. If an old family tradition brings back bad memories or sad memories, offer up a spin on the tradition, or create new ones all together.  This doesn’t have to be something extravagant.  It could be something as simple as a family letter time capsule, creating a new holiday cookie recipe, making up a holiday-themed game, or making a craft together. Be creative and make it yours!

Ornament Exchange: I am no history buff on ornaments, but I know enough to note that ornaments can be very meaningful, and they don’t have to be the expensive ones.  Walk into just about any store these days and you will find them.  Each year, you and your kids could draw names and pick out an ornament for the name drawn.  I assure you that in 5, 10, 20 years from now, that ornament will be worth more to your kids (and you) than you could ever dream.

Story Time: Time with your children is always well spent time. Time without interruptions or technology.  Time to sit down, with your children and read a holiday-inspired book.  Of course, this might only hold the attention of those over the age of 3 or under the age of 12, but if you consistently make this a tradition, age won’t matter, and even when they are in their 20’s they will expect the “story time” and join the snuggle. When I ask my daughter what her best childhood memories where, she always says it was when you made those special quality bonding times, they were simple but so meaningful.

Go visit somewhere, in place of gifts: Things aren’t as important as time together.  A great way to spend the holidays with your kids, and to make it memorable is to create new memories.  Take a short road trip and go visit someplace new.  Experience new things and discover new adventures.  If you live in a place that isn’t too cold this time of year, a holiday camping trip might be fun!  Other options would be to visit places that are in their “offseason.”  Instead of spreading your budget too thin, invest your holiday budget into making new memories, in new places with your kids.  They will forever remember it and the “gift” will outlast any of the “hottest” toys, hands down.

The holidays were never intended to just be about the number of gifts you give or get.  What sticks with us as humans are experiences.  The experiences you share with your kids are priceless and even if they give you grief about not getting everything they “wanted” on their holiday list, keep reminding them that it’s not about gifts, and give them something that they will cherish forever, even if they don’t realize it right away.  Trust me, when they grow older they will remember those times and hold them very dear to their hearts.

If you want 5 other ideas for single parents to make the holiday’s special, I have more!  Click here to access them!

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One of the number one reasons that people (especially women) stay in an un-happy and loveless marriage is due to financial stability, or fear of lack there of.  Whether it’s due to not having a fulltime job, accumulating too much debt within the marriage, or for a number of other possible reasons, it’s important to weigh the price in which you are paying.  You can choose to suffer for years and years for the benefit of financial stability, but pay the cost of your happiness, which will effect anyone and everyone in your life, even if you don’t intend to.  The other option?  Take charge of your finances and have faith that with the right plan, you will find yourself in a much better place, and at a lesser cost, than your happiness.

Think about your spouse as well.  Is it selfish to “fake” your way through a marriage?  Are you only cheating yourself out of the valuable feeling of freedom and happiness?  Believe that you have power.  Believe that you hold control and take charge right now!  Choose to make it happen and it will.  Sure, it might be hard, but only at first.  In due time, you will look back and it will just be a phase in your life that was hard, but worth it in the end.

Here is a quick infographic guide that will walk you through some basic, but important steps to gain your financial stability!

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