There’s no question that periods of increased market volatility, like we have seen recently, can be unsettling. However, deciding to move to the sidelines versus staying the course can have long-lasting implications. In fact, making emotionally-based decisions in regard to short-term market events is one of the fastest ways to derail your long-term investment strategy. This is because it’s impossible to accurately time the financial markets. Studies have shown that investors reacting to market events tend to opt out at the worst time – when markets have fallen considerably. They then buy back in when they are certain the markets are back on track, but that ends up being a higher price than when they sold. On the other hand, staying the course and remaining invested and focused on long-term investment goals has proven helpful in creating long-term growth. This is achieved by buying at lower prices when the markets are down and selling only to rebalance your portfolio or fund financial goals. A time-tested approach to managing investments through periods of uncertainty is to focus on asset allocation. An asset allocation that is aligned with your financial goals and tolerance for risk allows you to concentrate on your long-term objectives instead of getting sidetracked by short-term market fluctuations. While asset allocation cannot guarantee a profit or protect from a loss, the proper asset allocation can help eliminate the potential for emotional decision-making that could have an adverse impact on your long-term investment strategy. Following a divorce, consider checking in with your financial advisor to make sure your portfolio’s asset allocation is well balanced and appropriate for your risk tolerance and time horizon.
You may remember the “Death and Dignity Act” which was brought to light in the fall of 2014 by the young advocate with terminal brain cancer, Britney Maynard. Britney was a beautiful, well educated, 29 year old, who moved to a different state so that when the time came she could legally decide when to end her life, so that she could leave this world with her dignity intact. Dignity is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a way of appearing or behaving that suggests self-respect and self-control.” No, divorce is not a death sentence. What is important, however, is divorcing with dignity. A divorce brings out a range of emotions which will seem to take over your life. It is possibly to divorce respectfully, you’ll find a gamut of blogs here regarding divorcing collaboratively, but keeping your dignity intact throughout a divorce, especially with an uncooperative spouse can prove to be difficult. Here are our top three tips for divorcing with dignity:
- Focus on YOU. Especially in a divorce with children involved, YOU may be the last person on your mind. Whether that means you forget to eat, have no energy to cook dinner so you find yourself going through the drive through 5 days a week, or maybe you find yourself turning to alcohol for a stress release; retaining your health will help you to maintain your dignity during your divorce. Even if you’ve never ate healthy or worked out, now is the perfect time to start. Put down that glass of wine or bowl of ice cream, and go for a walk, starting is the hardest part. Give yourself the gift of extra confidence and energy during this difficult time, you will be thankful that you did.
- Work with the hand you’ve been dealt. The old “turn lemons into lemonade” theory. We posted a great quote on our Facebook page a few weeks ago that really resonated with people, “When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is.” Stop focusing on what could have/should have happened, and start focusing on what IS happening. Focus on HOW you are handling the situation. Understand that this is new territory for yourself, and don’t be afraid to find a mentor or even a therapist to help guide you through this uncharted territory.
- Remembering your ex is human, and so are you. It’s easy to forget the details along the way that led to your divorce, especially if there was a major “final straw” that ended it. Marriages are hard work, and often times neither party is giving 100%. For you to maintain your dignity, you must accept that you are just as human as the next person, your ex included. Sometimes having to forgive someone who may not deserve forgiveness is vital to maintain your own dignity.
Nearly every celebrity seems to have a divorce under their belt, but what about our local public figures – our children’s teachers, our mayors, city councilmen – how does the pubic feel about “those” public figures when they are facing divorce? About midway through the year I had noticed my daughter’s teacher’s name on Facebook (we have mutual friends) going from FIRST MARRIED to FIRST MARRIED MAIDEN, and I thought a divorce must be imminent. Admittedly my first thought was how a divorce might affect her teaching abilities for MY child. Selfish? Perhaps. Or are those type of reactions expected with public careers? Her private life is certainly none of my business, but is it easy to check your feelings at the door? Certainly not. The University of Minnesota is currently doing a study on the impact of divorce on a person’s career. Those results will be interesting to see, especially as there are careers can have a big impact on the public sector. Some may say that their divorce was the best thing that ever happened to their career. Perhaps work was a necessary distraction as their marriage crumbled at home. But on the other hand some people admit that they simply could not focus at work with their marriage on the rocks. Sometimes people can attribute their careers to actually being the CAUSE of their divorce. A husband that travels all week, a wife who tends bar on the weekends, a stay at home parent who never gets a break, and more often than not, simply the demands and stress of a person’s career can tear apart a marriage. Some careers are statistically at a higher risk for divorce, almost as if divorce is beyond their control. A few months later as school was coming to a close I noticed my daughter’s teachers name on social media is now: FIRST MAIDEN. Admittedly, my feelings changed from worrying about the affect her divorce would have on my own daughter to feeling horribly sympathetic towards her and her own children. As I leaned more I realized her husband holds a local political office and I began to wonder about the effects the divorce may have on his political career. It’s important to remember that everyone is human, divorce does not define a person, and even if you feel like your divorce is in the spotlight, remember that this too shall pass. Please share your thoughts about public divorces in the comment section below.
My two year old daughter received Legos for Christmas. They were the bigger bricks, which are perfect for her chubby, dimpled hands, and pink and purple “princess” Legos that could be made into, what else? Castles! She really wasn’t interested in the figurines that were included, but she WAS interested in creating a “super tall building.” I loved watching her build various creations. I’m pretty sure Lego didn’t make “girl” kits when I was growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. My little brother had Legos, and I just shrugged them off as toys for boys. I was into…dare I say…Barbie. And all things that sparkle. I would, most certainly, have played with pink and purple Legos, though. After all, I liked putting things together. When my “boombox” stopped working, I took it apart and put it back together (and yes, I even fixed it!). Would I have become an engineer instead of a lawyer if Lego had made purple bricks? Nope. But if Lego had created a kit of pastel bricks, Legos might have outsold Superstar Barbie! Did girls miss out on something by not playing with Legos? Maybe not. But what IS it about princesses? Dressed in her sparkly tutu, my daughter plays just as much, if not more, with trucks and transformers as she does her dolls. Is it because she has an older brother? Does she find transformers more interesting than her dolls? My five year old son is all boy (rough and tumble, loves trucks and ninja turtles, slides into “home plate” – which is the northwest corner of the family room – so much he wears holes in his jeans) so I was pleasantly surprised when he picked up his sister’s doll and stroller and zoomed around the house. “Great,” I thought, “maybe he’ll play dolls with his little sister.” Uh…no. He took the doll and stroller to annoy his younger sibling. Nevertheless, watching my daughter with those pink and purple Legos certainly made me think about how items are “sold” or “packaged.” Do we really buy “things” or are we buying an “experience?” It depends. I think in many cases, we are paying for an experience, even when we buy products. (For instance, why do I need to have an aromatherapy experience grocery shopping? I’m there to buy groceries to feed my family. If I want such an “experience” I’ll go to a spa.) Nonetheless, the way products and experiences are packaged can make all the difference in the way we feel. But with legal services, you are buying a product (the divorce agreement/documents) as well as the experience. When you are interviewing attorneys, be aware of what they are selling you and how they are selling it. Does the attorney you are meeting with base his or her expertise on all the cases “won.” Chances are, that attorney is talking more about him or herself and isn’t doing much listening to you. This is a divorce, people. A change in significant relationships within a family. Nobody wins in a divorce, so please don’t fall for that “package.” This process is all about getting to a new normal, and if you have young children, parenting them well. So, the attorneys and team you are interviewing should be all about helping you get to that new normal. That, in my opinion, is how divorce should be “packaged.”
After dinner one evening, my two-year-old was playing with her brother’s indominus rex (she likes dinosaurs). She climbed up to her bathroom sink, grabbed her toothbrush, climbed down, plopped herself down on the floor, and…much to my dismay…brushed the dino’s teeth. Of course, she was NOT happy when I interrupted her for a diaper change. “No. Not today,” she said, shaking her head at me. I told her we absolutely needed to change her diaper…now. “No! Not NOW,” she said and glared at me. As I tried to wrestle indominus out of her hands, she wriggled back and forth and, yes, threw a tantrum (she’s INCREDIBLY strong!). In typical mother-knows-best voice (and using her first, middle, and last names) I said, “We need to change your diaper NOW, so your bottom doesn’t get sore!” “NOOOOOOO!!!” she shrieked, “I WANT TO BWUSH DA DINOSAUR’S TEEF! RIGHT NOWWWWWW!” Her face was red and scrunched up. Oh boy. I paused, took a deep breath, and I said as calmly yet cheerfully as I could, “I can see that you really, REALLY want to brush the dinosaur’s teeth.” Pause. “You REALLLLLLY want to brush that dino’s teeth.” Another pause. She stopped wriggling, her face softened, and she looked at me. In a quieter voice I said, “I know you want to brush his teeth. So let’s change your diaper so you can keep brushing the dino’s teeth.” Pause. “O.K., Mama,” she said, as she got up and reached for my hand. We walked into her room to change her diaper. Although she is just a tot, my daughter, like everyone, wants to feel heard. She and I had competing interests: she needed her diaper changed (my task/interest), and she wanted to play (her task/interest). The diaper change needed to come first. And it did, once she felt like I heard and understood her. People going through a divorce need to be heard, too. It’s easy to get into power struggles and the he said, she said “stuff.” Go ahead and say it. And then be ready to listen to your spouse say it. Really try to hear what your spouse is saying. Then, understand. You don’t have to agree, but to resolve the issues in your divorce, you both need to hear and understand each other.
“Seek first to understand, and then be understood.” – Stephen Covey
Recently, a friend told me that a good Samaritan found and returned the wallet he had lost the previous day. The funny thing he said, was that the credit cards and money were still there but his driver’s license and Social Security card were missing. Not finding it at all humorous, I told him he was likely the target of identity theft. I advised him to file a police report and to contact the three credit rating agencies to place a freeze on his credit report. A credit freeze (also called a security freeze) places a restriction on who can access your credit report. Only your current creditors and government agencies can access your credit report while the freeze is in place. This makes it hard for identity thieves to open a credit card account or take out a loan in your name, because most credit card companies will check your credit report before issuing a new credit card. To set up a credit freeze, you need to contact all three of the credit reporting agencies; Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each has a credit freeze website that is listed below, along with their telephone number. Equifax: 800-349-9960 https://www.freeze.equifax.com Experian: 888-397-3742 https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html TransUnion: 888-909-8872 https://www.transunion.com/freeze The best way to set up a credit freeze is to request it in writing. Check each of the websites above to see the information they require. Typically, requirements include a photocopy of your driver’s license, Social Security card and a utility bill from the address listed on your driver’s license. There is a charge to set up the freeze, ranging from $5 to $20 per reporting agency. All three credit rating agencies offer protection plans that include credit monitoring, but those plans are an additional monthly cost and are not that useful once you have the freeze in place. Once your credit freeze is established, each of the credit reporting companies will send you a confirmation letter that contains a pin number. Keep these pin numbers in a safe place because you will need to provide them when you wish to lift the freeze. Freezes can be lifted permanently or just temporarily via each of the credit company’s websites. There is typically a $5 charge to left the freeze, even if temporarily. You will need to lift your credit freeze at each of the credit reporting companies each time you apply for credit, such as applying for a new credit card or a loan. You will also need to lift them to get your free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com, or if a potential employer wants to check your credit history. Identity theft can be costly and take years to clear up, so the time and fees involved in setting up a credit freeze is a small investment for some peace of mind. One last piece of advice – never, never, never carry your social security card in your wallet.