I feel somewhat strange posting this, because it’s not a topic that I ever want to write from experience. Perhaps I’m not the right person and perhaps this may come across as trite, but after I received a message on Instagram, I felt the need to.
It’s about break-ups. It’s about starting over financially.
And full disclosure: this post is not about me. I fully appreciate that writing a mum blog when you’re not a mum is weird, so writing a break-up blog when you’re not going through it may also be weird!
The next 3 minutes is up to you – but understand if you need to click ‘exit’.
I could easily say that my husband was my first real love. Sure, I had flings, dates, one-nighters, semi-boyfriends who treated me more like a booty-call than a person, and guys I would chase for months only to realise that they weren’t interested in buying anything I was selling, but a real boyfriend that my heart would quite literally pine for wasn’t even on the radar until I met Ben.
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So when I received that message on Instagram, it made me think about a worst case scenario (hello crazy, irrational brain) and what I would ever do if I had to start over. And besides the obvious reaction of crying for 46,892 days and jumping on the next plane out of the country, we would have some serious difficulty untangling our life. It’s not just the physical assets, but the emotional ties to the future we are building together.
We have two houses, which comes with a collection of joint mortgages. We have a joint savings account, joint things and of course a joint furbaby, Duke. We also have joint friends, joint social life and general joint-ness because, well, you’re joined in marriage. It kinda comes with the territory. And whilst I like to think we could co-parent Duke to the same high-road as Gwen and Chris Martin, truthfully, I’d probably suck at it.
This got me thinking – breaking up with your boyfriend, partner or husband/wife is never straight down the middle. It’s never going to be, “ok babe (maybe you wouldn’t call each other that if you’ve just broken up?), there is $5,000 in the account, I’ll shift over $2,500 in yours and we can call it a day. Yeah?”
It’s probably packing your first bag of clothes after the break-up conversation and peeling yourself off the bathroom floor in tears. It’s probably arguing over who gets the couch because you both distinctly remember buying it from YOUR money. It’s the gumtree couple coming to pick-up your King bed, cause you won’t be needing that anymore. It’s the trip to the bank to close your joint account … it’s all the “stuff” that comes around your things and your money, that I imagine is the really draining and emotionally exhausting part of breaking up.
Unfortunately for many couples today, whether you have been together 12 months or 12 years, there is always the art of untangling. Heck, Ben and I were financially committed well before we were bound by marriage – the investment in interstate flights during our first 9 months alone was enough for my bank account to think, “sh*t Bree, you better like this guy, because flights to Brisbane ain’t cheap!” – and even though we have the wedding photos to prove it, I still haven’t changed my name (a whole other blog on that…). Marriage-schmarriage. It’s the relationship you’re untangling and for us, that would be the biggest heartache, not the documentation.
Here are my thoughts on how I would deal with a financial-untangle or ungluing …
Prioritise your health, head and heart – breaking up from someone for whatever reason is a crappy situation. There’s no two ways about it. Even if it’s a toxic relationship that you’re cleansing yourself from, there’s still the emotional recovery to tackle. For me, and before any chat of money, I would focus on three things – my health, my head and my heart. In order for me to be able to truly deal with the change, I need to be the priority. This would obviously come after a messy night out where I drowned my sorrows in a few bottles of wine and kissed a random boy. Obviously.
Make a list – After Marie Kondo’ing (have we heard this enough already?) your relationship because clearly that isn’t giving you joy anymore, it’s time to turn to your pad and paper. There is not right or wrong way to make a list, but just keep it simple. On Day 1 post break-up, it’s probably going to include, wake-up, watch Netflix for 8 hours, go to sleep!
Divide and sell – When you’re in a space to address the division of “stuff” it’s best to do it quickly. Gumtree is a great way of getting rid of things fast and even though you may not get the exact price you’re after, it’s better to have it gone than to have that extra $20. Once you’re clear of the “things”, you’ll naturally be in a better space to start kicking ass at moving on.
[Depending on the situation] enlist a guardian angel – a friend who can manage the logistical things for you, while you’re up at step 1 and working your way through step 2 and 3.
Do a quick account audit – figure out three financial priorities, 1. What accounts need to be closed? 2. What direct debits need to be cancelled? 3. What bills are outstanding?
Be brave – When you feel you have step 1 in flow, and the division of “stuff” has been done, now it’s time for the money change up. Sit down on your own (maybe with a glass of wine) and write your new budget. At first, just keep it simple – what money do you have coming in, and what money needs to go out each month. Perhaps it’s your salary coming in, and then your rent, food and other bills going out. It may take a month or two to find your new budget rhythm so I wouldn’t put any additional stress on yourself to be setting huge money goals, or paying off big chunks of debt. It’s about slowly, slowly.
Be kind to yourself. The end. Life isn’t perfect and neither is your money. Focus on looking after yourself and your heart, before you start bashing out a new budget!
Fearless Female Traders