Let’s face it. Most people don’t have access to a financial advisor. And if they do, those financial advisors may not consider the human side of managing money – like how spending, saving, and stressing about it actually makes us feel.
Nav.it money coaches* answer questions like what to do after a break-up.
Dear Money Coach,
Long story short, I thought I was going to marry my boyfriend. We lived together for two years, and I depended greatly on him. I am just unsure how to divide everything or even manage money on my own. Any tips?
-Keeping It Together
Hello Keeping It Together,
First of all, I’m sorry you have gone through some heartbreak recently. It’s never fun and always challenging for our mental stability and core psyche. Second, I’m really happy the relationship ended before you married him! Marriages are legal contracts that take much more heartache (and money) to dissolve. So count your blessings that it ended sooner rather than later if it was inevitably going to end.
Now, let’s start with dividing things.
What did you own together, and what was yours? If you were living together, you probably had furniture and household items you need to split. You may even need to get out of a lease and pay a fee.
If you shared the expenses for your furniture, then finding a way to split things as fairly as possible will ensure no one is taken advantage of by the other. Plus, you’ll be a bit more prepared to start on your own. However, if you paid for the items, those are yours. ‘Nuff said.
If you’re trying to split things up, you might want to start with the big-ticket items. Beds, sofas, televisions, and electronics are all bigger ticket items that you can inventory and split up between the two of you. If you’re starting over, not having to pay another $500+ for a couch can help you stabilize after a breakup. Pots and pans are necessary for your future kitchen, blenders are fun, and cylinders make your life easier. If your former partner is reasonable, you’ll probably have a few conversations about who wants what and then call it a day. If you need to break a lease, assess if you can afford 50-50. It would be fair if the person earning more takes a bigger percentage of that larger ticket item, but again this depends on how amicable the breakup is.
Even if you’re emotionally scarred and never want to see this person again, dig deep within yourself and negotiate for what you believe is a fair and equal division of co-owned items. Not only will this increase your self-esteem, but it will better set you up for the conversation we’re about to have below.
Let’s talk about your own money management.
There is no better time to start paying attention to your money than the present! You’re young, you have time to build your wealth, and it’s exciting to have a reason to create your own money destiny.
Start by looking at your relationship with money.
Your relationship with money is how you interact with money on a daily basis. It includes your attitudes and beliefs about money and your behaviors concerning spending, saving, and investing. After a breakup, it’s a good idea to reflect on your experiences and move on to managing your money.
1. Track your expenses
Step one: download Nav.it and start tracking your expenses. See how much you spend monthly and how much you have left over. Your monthly savings habit is your secret weapon in life. If you absolutely can’t manage to save, think about other ways to access money, like emergency grants from your employer, side hustles, or other alternatives. You’re not alone; there are fantastic communities to check out, like I Like to Dabble and The Broke Black Girl. If you feel like you’d like a money coach to set you up on your path, check out the Nav.it coaching subscription here for one-on-one coaching and a tailored financial roadmap.
2. Get prepared for an emergency
If you can, build a savings emergency fund with whatever you can save monthly. If you need help, check out Nav.it’s calculators and auto-save feature to ensure you always have a padding of accessible cash when the going gets tough. The recommendation is 3 – 6 months of fixed expenses in a savings account that you can pull from in a pinch.
Now that you’re rocking the basics of monthly money management, it’s time to talk about debt and investing. If you have credit card debt, let’s try and get that off your books.
3. Manage high-interest debt
There are a couple of critical steps to take before you do this.
Assess if you can consolidate your credit card debt into a 0% APY credit card for at least 12 – 18 months. These are great cards. However, the catch is that after the 0% period, the interest will usually jump to over 20%+. Your real aim should be to pay off the entire balance before that happens.
If you’ve done step one above, you’ll know how much extra you can afford each month to pay towards your credit card bill, and hopefully, you can get it off your books in that timeframe.
Now you’re ready to get that neglected debt off your balance sheet so you can sail into your future—and your next relationship — with less financial stress.
4. Start investing
Once you’ve dealt with budgeting, savings, and debt management, the next conversation is about investing! This is the fun part. Passive income is a great vehicle to increase wealth without much work. The first step is to review your employer’s 401k (or 403b, etc.) benefits. Is there an employer match? Are you maximizing your contributions? Employer retirement benefits are a seemingly opaque and complicated process, but your HR department should be able to answer these fundamental questions. If you’re not taking the match, you’re leaving “free” money on the table. So, see if you can max your contribution to take that benefit.
Finally, it’s time to consider investing if you have spare change lying around after funding your emergency fund. We have many investing articles that give you the basics of diversification, compound interest, and why there is no better time to start investing than the present. Time is your best weapon, and even putting $50 toward investments monthly will help you increase your wealth over time.
Focusing on health
Finally, I know breakups sometimes seem like the end of the world. Take it from someone who understands relationships: getting out of an unhealthy relationship is more important than being in one. In fact, it’s an opportunity to work on yourself and make sure you don’t attract the same type of person your next go-around. Because, undoubtedly, another person is waiting for you to be healthy and ready to dive into love again.
*Just remember, we are NOT your financial advisors, tax advisors, or legal advisors by simply accessing this site. Everything that you read or interact with on the site is for informational purposes only. You should contact a professional before taking action.