When the whole divorce kind of stuff hit, you know, it was a huge blow—to our family unit, to my identity, to what I had, you know, envisioned and dreamed my life would be like.
I had been married when I was young—I was 23. I worked for five or six years until my oldest daughter arrived. But really our financial future in those days was based largely on my ex-husband’s income. And I had, you know, stopped working to have kids, and to raise them, and to be at home, and so that was sort of my job, albeit unpaid.
So after the divorce, I think, like, you know, you finish your sort of pity-party stage and then you realize that, OK, no one is going to make this better for me. I’m the only one who can do this. And really I think being motivated by wanting to set a really good example for my own girls, and I think really thinking back—what did I do for the last two decades? I’m fully capable of managing my own money and knowing what I have and where I want to be and how I’m going to get there. I think a lot of it is just restoring the self-confidence that you can do that. You just haven’t—it doesn’t mean that you can’t—but just it wasn’t your purview in the past.
Step one was figuring out, like, what do we have? I don’t know what my electric bill is per month. I don’t know what my car payment is. I don’t know how much my mortgage is. I have no idea. So just a lot of sort of due diligence in uncovering and finding out what can I do to, sort of, yield some money that we can invest and save for the future?
The advice that I would give to someone who was managing their money for the first time, or really taking ownership over that, is to not be afraid of it. Because your situation is not going to change if you ignore it. You’ve really got to dive in, figure out what you have and figure out where you want it to go. And don’t be afraid to spend some real hard time poring over those numbers and really understanding how much you need, how much you want to have, and where you want to make that money work for you.
I think it’s a valuable lesson for the girls that resilience, I think, is probably the most important thing that I can teach them. You know, everybody’s got something at home, right, that makes them unique. It doesn’t have to make it good or bad; it’s just your situation. How you’re going to shape it is what’s going to make you successful or not.