Protect Your Financial Future by Avoiding These Break Up Pitfalls

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The first weeks of a break up are hard. It's when you battle between doing nothing and doing anything to keep your mind off your ex. Unfortunately, heartbreak can lead to bad decisions that derail your financial goals. Here are three ways to get through a break up without ruining your finances.

Say No to Shopping

No matter what the name implies, retail therapy won't remedy your hurt feelings. Instead, it can damage all the work you've done to pay off your credit cards and pad your emergency fund. Forget about reaching for material things and opt to reconnect with friends. You avoid pointless spending and invest in those who are important.

Romance the Kitchen

After a break up, you barely want to get out of bed, let alone cook a meal. Give yourself a pity day to binge on your favorite takeout, then get back in the kitchen. Find inspiration in a new, fun recipe and prepare enough food to cover your off days. Dining out stretches your budget and your waistline, so the faster you're back in the kitchen, the better.

Escape Into a New Project

It's hard to establish a firm financial foundation without income, so make sure you don't take the blues to work. Shake up your routine by volunteering to assist a co-worker or taking on a new assignment. Not only will you distract yourself from thoughts of your ex, but you also gain a resume booster.

The best way to get over a break up is to focus on yourself instead of your past relationship. A vital part of that is making sure you don't jeopardize your financial future. While money won't make you happy, no one ever cries because they have too much. In fact, your strong financial position may give you something to smile about on the rough days.

Walking On Eggshells: Talking to Loved Ones About Money

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Attempting to broach any serious conversation with a loved one can lead to major anxiety depending on the topic at hand. Over the years, it has become more accepted to have frank discussions regarding a litany of subjects that were, at one time, considered too sensitive to approach.

 The money discussion seems to have remained the steadfast untouchable topic among some. However, open and honest discussion about money issues with friends and family doesn't have to be an uncomfortable chore.   Here are some easy-to-follow tips on opening up the lines of communication about money with those nearest and dearest to you.

  1. Start Slow - You may want to ease into the money conversation, especially with regards to older family members who may not be as open to frank money discussions. Maybe bring up a recent news item that is topical and could lead to a deeper discussion about money matters. 
  2. Remember You Are Not Alone - Money stress and worries are very common. It may surprise you to find that issues you are grappling with are issues for those you love as well. Finding common ground can help the discussion stay friendly and useful for all involved. 
  3. Stay on Point - When discussing something as personal as finances, it can be easy to veer off topic or begin to accuse or object. You may find that breaking the talk up into smaller talks held over a longer period of time is more effective. 
  4. Comparison is the Thief of Joy - Try to avoid comparing your financial situation with that of your loved one. We all have our own stories and we may be only receiving one side. Focus on your own situation in the midst of money discussions. If your discussion is one of concern or an attempt to help your loved one, try to remain focused on their current financial fitness and your role as listener.

  The goal in any potentially awkward discussion is to remain focused, calm, and reasonable. This is important even in the face of a discussion partner who may not always approach things the same way. If a discussion begins to go "south" it is probably best to take a step back and attempt to address the issue at a later date.   Money discussions do not have to leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth. If you concentrate on the purpose behind the discussion and the connections you have (and want to maintain) with those involved in the conversation, the result can be win-win for everyone.

Building Bricks: Understanding how Trust Works

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Trust is hard to define as a concept, yet it's something that we can feel. If you trust someone, you feel comfortable around them. You listen to what they say and expect them to listen to you when you have something to say.

In short, you are benefitting from an "investment" you made with someone in the past.

That investment could have been chipping in on dinner when you ran out of money, sharing a secret, or giving advice. Whatever it was, this "investment" is an action that connects two people. (Trust can also be established by what a person we don't know also. Or example, I can trust that a man with a doctor's uniform in a hospital knows about medicine versus a man dressed as a clown.)

This "investment" is what makes relationships work. It begins when one person does something for someone else. Humans are pattern-seeking animals, and when we see the pattern of "This person always helps me out" in someone we assume that the person will continue their behavior in the future.

Breaking Bricks: What Happens When Trust is Broken

In the same way, that trust is built and reinforced, brick by brick, trust can be lost. That being said, losing trust can occur much faster than gaining it. Losing trust involves dishonoring the investment made in a relationship.

This happens because trust is such a valuable investment. Violating that investment hurts more because of the emotional connection involved. This can happen in all sort of ways from being unintentionally disrespectful to intentionally being mean or rude.

Once broken, trust takes a long time to rebuild. Imagine removing a brick from a brick wall. It takes a lot more effort to remove that brick than to put it in place, right?

Trustworthiness: What Makes People Trust You

As shared above, trust is an investment. It's also an emotional and mental connection that is built over time. In order to for us to be open to that initial investment, there must be certain signals. The person we're looking to trust must have something of value that we're looking for.

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These signals are actions that signal a person might be worth trusting. Such signals can include attentiveness, a willingness to trust us, mutual respect, authenticity, and transparency. People that display these traits (bonus points if you show more than one trait!) are more likely to be considered trustworthy.

Couples and Trust: 3 Pointers to Making the Connection

Having a good relationship as a couple is all about trust.  In fact, trust in a relationship should involve deeper and deeper levels of trust. As your relationship matures and evolves, there will be challenges to this process of developing trust. The couple that can successfully navigate through those challenges are the ones who survive.

Three recommendations that can help your relationship develop this kind of "tough" trust include:

  • Invest in the positive before you make a withdrawal: If you consider trust like an "investment", there will be times when you need to make a withdrawal. You might need to say something difficult or comfortable that could affect your relationship. If you're already built investment through positive actions, your relationship should be able to handle it.
  • Revisit your past. If your relationship is going through a "rough patch", it can be hard to think beyond it. One way to break out of that mindset is by revisiting the past. Take some time to watch old videos or look at old pictures with you as a couple. Reimagine what was going through your mind. Going back could be a rekindle your trust going forward.
  • Start small. Whenever trust is broken in a relationship, you don't want to ignore it. You want to do three things: resolve, forgive, and rebuild. Realize that this can take time, so start off with small relationship rebuilding efforts. Starting the day with "Good morning" instead of rehashing yesterday's ongoing argument is one way you might do this.

Trust: Hard to Build (or Rebuild), Worth the Investment

Trust is a complex and touchy subject because it involves the most personal aspects of ourselves. When we trust someone, we are leaving ourselves vulnerable. The person we trust could return or ignore our offer of trust. They could manipulate it.

Yet, trust is worth that risk. Without that risk, we don't get the reward. Without being vulnerable, we cannot become truly comfortable. Without opening up, we remain closed. That is why the investment known as "trust" is so powerful. Trust that is built is much more powerful than trust that is never built.

Keeping Your Self-Esteem: How to Move on After a Break Up

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Let's face it, heartbreak is not fun and can do some real damage to a person's self-image. But rather than dwelling in your own pity, lowering your self-esteem, and allowing your mental health to suffer, why not rise to the occasion? Take opportunity of this new personal time to reflect on your individual needs and how you can continue to improve your love life!

Know what you want!

Regardless of how the relationship ended, there is always a lesson to be learned about self-awareness. Life experiences and relationships in the past are the perfect resource for knowing exactly what you want in a future partner. Maybe your past partner had some great qualities and some not-so-great qualities, from that you will know what you do and do not want in your next partner. It is so empowering knowing that your next partner will be better for you in every way than your last. Never allow someone else to control your thoughts about yourself and always focus on opportunity for growth in any situation.

Why would you want someone who doesn't want you anyway?

You deserve to be appreciated! Everyone deserves happiness and love in this life and being in a relationship that is toxic, in any sense, is not worth it. No, being broken up with doesn't feel good, and yes, I know you still love him or her, but there is someone out there who will love you more than you ever thought someone could. It should be a huge turn off for anyone if the person you are pursuing doesn't even want you! Get out of that horrible, self-destroying mindset and realize that you are wanted by so many other people! That ex-boyfriend or girlfriend doesn't know your true value. Someone is out there waiting to be your perfect partner.

Independence is key!

It is not uncommon for people to fall extremely dependent on their partner during a relationship. Learning to be independent and self-sustaining is going to help you feel productive and motivated and push you to continue reaching goals and living life. Feeling strong and independent will definitely help increase one's self-esteem after a break-up. Make sure that you are enjoying your favorite hobbies, find a job that you love and are making a good living at, build stronger relationships with friends and family, and never let anyone bring you down. This is much easier said than done, but you can do it and you will thrive!

Stuck in the Middle: Kids and Divorce

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Divorce is stressful. There is a lot on your plate between maintaining your job, dividing all the assets, figuring out living situations, and determining custody agreements. Even if you were the one that asked for the divorce, there is some sadness too. It's a major chapter of your life coming to an end. It's easy to forget how much your child's life is changing too. While doing your best to keep all the sadness and hurt from them, trying to keep their schedule as normal as possible, and never bad mouthing the other parent, your kids are still stressed too. 

Even if your kids knew everything wasn't happy in your marriage they still won't understand why it's happening. They will internalize it. They will spend a fair amount of time wondering if they could have stopped it. It is so important to keep the lines of communication open with them. What details you reveal are at your discretion, but some form of, "mommy and daddy grew in different directions, and while we don't love each other anymore, we both still love you very much," is important. Kids need that reassurance, and often. 

Little kids can sometimes hold very unrealistic expectations; such as asking if you can all still live together. Their entire world is often centered on us and how we behave. Keep that in mind always. The way you talk to your soon to be ex in front of them, and how you talk about each other to them, will be remembered. As much as you want the divorce to be over or as angry as you may be, the kids don't need to see it, not now. When they are older, late teens to adults, they are more capable of having a conversation about how you felt, but now they not only can't understand, but they will internalize. 

Divorce for kids means their entire way of life has ended. Consider (if possible) a civil friendship with your ex until the kids are older. If your kids play sports, are in band, or anything other event you go watch, if you and your ex can't sit together your kids will have to choose who to run to first. That kind of decision can be crushing for them. Their time with their parents is now limited. They will have different rules and expectations at both houses. They will have a lot of their own emotions tied in as well. As hard as this is for you, it is just as hard on them. Make sure you acknowledge that to them, and try to help them through it too. 

Your kids will survive your divorce, but they will need your help to do it. Don't minimize their suffering (by accident or by choice) because they are young, and don't compare it to yours. 

Talking to Loved Ones About Money: How to Offer Useful Guidance

Talking to Loved Ones About Money: How to Offer Useful Guidance

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Let’s face it: conversations about personal finances are usually uncomfortable. Especially with family members. Especially when your advice is past due. Although your parents, children, siblings, and significant other may trust your opinion on everything from fashion to food, schooling them on their spending habits can poke at their pride and force pushback.

 

 They must be willing to listen to you     

If they’re suppressing embarrassment, guilt, and shame while you’re talking, any financial brilliance you can offer is irrelevant. The key is to find a balance between being understanding and dishing out the tough love that’ll give them the help they need. You should be direct and logical; it’s not by chance that you’re the one in the financially superior position, so show them how you got there. Use examples from your own life that resemble their situation, if applicable. If you can relate to them in a personal way without using a condescending tone (easier said than done), you will give them an invitation to humility while giving credibility to yourself.

        

You have to know your stuff

If you’re not a financial advisor, it can be risky giving guidance to other people. Your intentions may be pure when you tell your brother how beneficial a 529 college savings plan can be for his children, but you might be causing more harm than good if the drawbacks aren’t clearly explained, as well. Do your best to share as much information as you can, but make sure your words aren’t the sole reasoning for their decision-making. Your full discretion here is vital. The endgame should be the improvement of their researching and analytical skills rather than simple memorization of individual facts and figures.

 

 Follow up and show continued support  

Giving your loved ones a copy of your fancy budget template and telling an inspirational, “I clawed my way up from the depths of debt” story are great ways to open their eyes and get them on the right track. It’s important to remember, though, that inspiration is perishable. Your motivated mentees have already made poor financial decisions that have resulted in poor financial situations. Changing the way in which they handle money is a slow process that requires patience. Your approachability is paramount; they need to know that you’ll have their back if they don’t get it quite right the first time around. Checking in with them periodically might seem annoying, but they’ll know it’s for their own good, and they’ll appreciate it more than they might admit.           

Putting Your Spouse First: Best Practices for a Successful Marriage

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Let's preface this topic with some quick facts – yes babies need a LOT of attention, and yes normally young children will need your attention and your focus and your energy much more than your spouse because you are teaching them how to be fully functioning human beings. And yes your time and energy will be spent on your children because they need you to survive while they are young. But once you have children the best way to keep your family close and your marriage strong is by striving to put your spouse first. This does not mean you are putting your spouse first because you are selfish or a terrible parent, you put your spouse first FOR your children, your family, and your marriage.

Why should you put your spouse first? Here are some reasons your marriage will benefit by putting each other first:

A Lasting Marriage

According to success.com, "If you want your marriage to last your lifetime, give it the attention and effort it deserves. Your kids will live with you for just two short decades. Putting your marriage on cruise control for 20 years, while you focus on your kids is like falling asleep at the wheel – deadly." Your children are only with you for a few short years, if you want a lasting marriage then take time to appreciate and love the person who will be with you the longest. You do not get to choose your extended family – mothers, sisters, aunts, nephews, etc. You do not get to choose who your children will turn out to be, the only person you truly choose to love is your spouse. Create a lasting marriage by putting your spouse first.

Happy and Healthy Children

You are your children's first and most effective teacher – they will base many of their ideas of love and marriage on the example that you give. Your children will feel safe, happy when they have two parents who work together as a team and act like their spouse is their favorite person. Showing a healthy marriage where two people care about each other above all else is one of the best things you can do for your children. According to huffingtonpost.com, "I view my investment in my relationship with my spouse as one that is beneficial to our family as a whole."

Lasting Romance

Putting your spouse first, caring for their needs, loving them, and being aware of their thoughts and feelings is a fantastic way to care for a lasting romance. Your children will eventually leave, but your spouse will be with you if you take the time to create that lasting relationship.

Here are some reasons – centered on children – for why you should put your spouse first:

Self-Centered Children

Putting your children first, instead of your spouse, gives your children an unrealistic view of the world in which they are the center of attention. In an article by physician Danielle Teller, titled "How American parenting is killing the American marriage," she said, "Children who are raised to believe that they are the center of the universe have a tough time when their special status erodes as they approach adulthood. Most troubling of all, couples who live entirely child-centric lives can lose touch with one another to the point where they have nothing left to say to one another when the kids leave home."

Children Who Blame Themselves

If you put your children first and your marriage suffers because of it, your children may start to blame themselves for your unhappiness. According to psychologytoday.com, "Unhappy and unfulfilled parents can lead their kids to conclude that marriage makes people unhappy, or if the focus of their discord centers on child-rearing differences, that they are the source of their parents' unhappiness."

It benefits you, your spouse, your marriage, your children, and your whole family when you put your spouse first.