Finances have and always will be a topic that’s very hard to talk about. Still, the importance of tackling finances before marriage, during marriage, and after divorce does not change. In this episode, Certified Divorce Specialist (CDS)™ Jennifer Hurvitz talks to Christina Lynn, owner of Lynn Financial, LLC, and Certified Estate Planner, and Divorce Financial Analyst, about what to expect after divorce from a financial standpoint. She reiterates the importance of being involved and being prepared for what’s to come. After being through a complex divorce herself, she transforms her mistakes into information and solutions for everybody else. Christina also gives great emphasis on why you should consider talking about personal finances before tying the knot.
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Finances & Divorce: How To Tackle It Head On With Christina Lynn
On this episode, I have one of the smartest girls. Her name is Christina Lynn. She is a Divorce Financial Planner. She started financial planning and doing this because of her own personal experiences. While she was unraveling her complex divorce, she decided that she was going to do this. Christina, come on out and let’s talk about what you do and all the amazing things that you are bringing to the world and helping women and men who are going through a divorce and need help with their financial situation. How are you?
Thanks for having me on.
I’m glad you’re here. Christina, explain to everybody what exactly you do. You’re a certified estate planner and a certified divorce financial analyst.
I help people at any point in the divorce process. If you’re still in the divorce stage of things, I will work with you and your attorney and we’ll analyze up the assets. We’ll review property settlements and distributions. I will crunch the numbers to make sure it makes sense for both parties looking at the short-term and long-term projections of income and net worth. I walk through the process with my clients and their attorney. The divorce process is long and there are always moving parts going back and forth who gets what. I walk through that process and I help people make good decisions on what to keep or what to avoid. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing because I floundered so bad, I was like, “There must be a better way to handle this.” That’s how I stumbled on this.
Do you think that this is more of a female thing that as women we give away the financial planning to the guy? What do you think the problem is here?
There are two ways that I want to answer that. The financial piece of divorce rocks both the worlds for the husband and the wife. It turns financial worlds upside down for both parties. For the person who is the primary financial guru in the family, one spouse is the one handling the bills and handling the investments. A lot of times that’s the man but not always. If that is the case, I do think that it’s harder for females in those situations because they don’t understand what they have. They don’t know how it’s structured, they don’t understand the rules with it, it’s overwhelming and confusing. That’s one piece of it. The other piece is, as women if we have children, our mother bear instincts are roaring. We often want to settle the finances quick because we want to make sure that our kids are taken care of. Not to say that men don’t care about their kids, I’m not saying that. For the mothers, it gets tangled up with the kids’ part of it, that it makes it a little so much more complicated.
In your own opinion, do you think that women tend to rollover? I have a lot of girlfriends who are like, “I gave him this because I wanted to get it over with. The kids are more important to me so I gave up half the whatever.” I’m like, “Whoa.” Do you feel like you stop men from making choices that are ill-advise that are not right?
I wouldn’t say that that is a female-dominated tendency. I’ve heard a lot of men doing that too. It’s a personality thing. Some women want to fight and need to be advised like, “You might be wasting or churning up attorney fees by being adamant about that. When I look at your pool of assets, to me this is what makes sense. I would settle for this.” I don’t think that it is a gender thing.
I’m glad to hear that because I get nervous. I have many friends who are like, “I don’t want to fight over it. He can have the house.” I’m like, “Don’t be giving up that house.”
They shouldn’t do that. Divorce is likely the largest financial shift that you’ll make in your life and you don’t need a rash decision because you don’t get to go back and redo this thing.
For me, luckily my ex-husband was thoughtful, but we have a different relationship. I don’t think many people are lucky enough to have that relationship. I hate to even talk about it. Even though we had a great relationship, I had not seen a checkbook or a balanced checkbook, I didn’t know my finances for thirteen years because he was an accountant. It wasn’t my job. My job was the family, the household and doing the mom stuff. For me, to sit down and listen to 401(k) and QDRO and this and that, I was lost. I can only imagine, having you would have been an absolute godsend. I can imagine being lucky to have someone like you.
I do think it helps to have a financial expert on the divorce team. You need your divorce attorney for the legal aspect, but they’re not always financial experts. Not only can you save money by involving a financial expert just so you can feel the financial questions to the financial person and keep the legal questions to the attorney, but also that handholding process. There’s a lot of financial education that has to happen in divorce because a lot of people who go through a divorce, usually 50% of them, don’t know anything about the finances. They need to start from scratch and understand all those basic concepts.
You have your Master’s. You also have two small children, two young kids and you’re getting your PhD.
I’ll start this summer with my PhD program.
Kudos to you. You’re awesome. I also noticed that you have some other areas that your expertise is money tips for moms and stay-at-home moms that are divorced. You also work with moms after they are divorced and going through the process of being on their own, you work with moms afterward.
That’s why I’m pursuing further education because that’s my passion. I love to teach people about money concepts and prepare them for financial success. Divorce is most likely the largest financial shift you’ll ever make in your life, it’s important that you get set up properly in your new chapter of life just to prepare you for financial success and avoid some of the pitfalls that people run into with finances. I love helping everybody get set up for financial success. One of the things I know best is motherhood, I learned from being married for six years and now being divorced, both sides of the fence and what people need to know.
Do you have a couple of tips you want to give us? Do you think that there are some things that moms should know? I could use a couple of tips. Is there anything special that you think that my audience could gain?
One great one that would be good for your audience, whether they’re married or not is, don’t neglect your personal finances until after your kids leave the nest. It’s easy to focus on your kids, get swept away with that priority that you put your own personal financial plan on the shelf and tell your kids, “Grow up,” or “Graduate high school.” You’re left to sort through the mess at that point and come up with a plan. I don’t know if you know about compound interest, but Einstein called that the eighth wonder of the world. If you can come up with at least a basic plan to follow now before your kids are grown up, you’re going to be that much farther ahead at that point when it feels more comfortable to approach that subject.
A lot of us single moms, the last thing we’re thinking about is our retirement or future because we’re trying to get paycheck to paycheck or living month to month on what we have in front of us. We’re not looking to the future. It’s horrifying and a lot of us are scared.
You’ve got to approach it with no fear. While it’s maybe uncomfortable to look at first, once you get past that boundary of fear, it becomes empowering because you understand what you have and that plan empowers you to believe the things that you can achieve. That plan is baby steps. You follow those baby steps and you’re going to get to where you want to go. I have one more tip for you too. Depending if you are single or divorced, but if you’re married, don’t rely on your spouse 100% for them to take care of the finances. You may not need to call the shots because like you in your marriage, your spouse was clearly better suited for that job. You shouldn’t be blind to what you have and what you have coming in, what you have going out and what your investments are. You should know what you have going on and you should have a voice in that. You don’t need to wear the pants in that position, but you need to have a voice. If you’re single, don’t use these words like, “I’m not good with money.”
I say that all the time. What should I do about that? I’m like, “I’m not good with money.” My boyfriend is like, “Jennifer, what do you mean you’re not good? Who says that?” I’m like, “Me, I’m not good with it.”
You’re creating a persona for yourself that you’re not good with money. Start by not saying that. That’s your first step. Money, it doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be as simple as first understanding how much money you have coming in, where it’s going out and come up with some goals and there you go, “You’re good with money.”
Tackling Divorce Finances: The financial piece of divorce rocks both the husband and wife’s financial worlds.
I’m going to try that. I’m going to call you because it’s scary to me. I don’t know what it is, but when you’re married, I felt secure with everything, and then you get divorced and everything drops out from under you and it’s like, “What the?” I don’t care if you’re living in a three-bedroom apartment, a trailer park or a mansion, everything changes drastically, I couldn’t get my footing. Learning all this is so good, I feel like my followers are going to feel better.
For some people, they think, “I don’t want to work with a financial planner because that’s only for rich people.”
That’s not true. Shop around and find out the prices to find someone who can help you with that or with this life coach revolution, there are things like money coaches. You can work with somebody like that to retrain view of money and that can change things too. I do encourage each one of you to work with somebody because I want everyone to have a wealthy, fulfilled lifestyle and that financial plan is a key part of it.
This is another thing that’s coming up a lot because I’m a dating coach. A lot of my clients are like, “What happens as we’re older, we start blending families and we start talking about dating, a lot of us women, we’re paying for stuff while we’re dating? It’s not this thing where the men are always paying anymore.” Now we have to pay 50/50 and sometimes I’m paying and he’s paying. You don’t always find a guy who’s a millionaire to take you out. I have clients who are like, “I’m dating this guy who wants me to 50/50 on everything.” They’ve dated for X amount of years and they’re going to blend families. How do you feel about when you blend your money again?
I need to come to you when I’m ready to date.
Do you know what I’m saying? What do you do when the guy says, “I make a living and he makes a living?” It’s totally a different world now. It’s not like when our parents or when we used to date before we got married where the guy paid.
I have two comments on this. There are no black and white answers on your relationship. One, keep an account in your name, an investment account, a savings account or whatever. Have a little bit of backup money that’s in your name. I’m not encouraging you to hide that, but so that you have instant access to it. It can be for any emergency. I do encourage that. Two, I believe in prenups. Now that we’re on this side of things, it makes sense to me. I’m not a relationship expert, I’ll leave that to you. There’s a way to approach that conversation to have it make sense for both parties.
It’s hard, everything changes, and that’s why I wrote my book. There are situations where divorce is inevitable and you do it and you have to. My married friends were like, “I don’t feel that flutter anymore.” I’m like, “Find it again, find that flutter,” because divorce sucks. It’s horrible. I have these clients who are like, “I don’t know what to do. We’ve been dating for a year and a half. I paid for half of everything and I don’t have the finances.” We do money tip for mothers and stay-at-home moms. Everything changes. Anything else you can think of that we need to know that you think financial conversations before you get remarried? Is there anything good for me?
Before you get remarried, I have more financial tips. Now that we know better after having a divorce, we need to have tough conversations before you tie the knot again. Finances are a huge topic that you need to breach, not one time but several times. You need to establish a sense of comfort so you can talk about tough financial things without having a huge fight or having it be uncomfortable or developing a habit of avoiding it altogether. What are the statistics? Most divorces happen because of financial issues. We know at least a good tip for how to avoid it in the future. You can start by talking about things like, “What’s your credit score?” “This is my credit score.” I know that it sounds silly. You should talk about it because the credit score, that is telling. Of course, you want to get a backstory like, “If your score is low, tell me about that. What’s going on? What led to this and what are you doing now to fix it?” It’s not like you shouldn’t marry someone because they have a little credit score, but it uncovers a lot of history, habits and also plans for how you want to move forward.
If you guys don’t know what your credit score is then you can get a free credit report annually online, print it out and look at it. It’s important. Another financial conversation that you can have before you get remarried is like, “How do you feel about credit cards?” This is one of those things that lead to problems in marriages because people have different tendencies for how they use it. One is loosey-goosey, “I’m going to go shopping.” There’s no right or wrong answer to this. The thing is, you need to know what each other’s habits are so that you don’t get into a fight after the honeymoon period.
I know that Jim looks at me and he’s like, “There’s no way I’m marrying you. The way you shop, there’s no way. I can’t afford you.” I’m like, “It’s a credit card.” He’s like, “Jennifer, for sure this is a conversation that we’ve had.” Christina, I’m dying right now because I’m listening to your story and I’m like, “This is so me.”
All that means is that you need to make more income to cover your expenses. I’m not advocating for you to not buy the stuff you want.
You sound like him. He’s like, “You’ve got to make some more money to pay off that.” I’m like, “I’ve got to sell some more books.” Everyone buy my books so I could have another pair of shoes. They are tough conversations because you don’t want a guy to break up with you because your credit is low, but at the same time, how do you blame the guy?
I have also worked with clients where problems are uncovered after the marriage happens. The spouse who didn’t know that there was this student loan on default and they didn’t disclose it. It’s better to be completely honest like, “I have this little issue and I’m working through it. Here’s my plan.” It’s not a life or death thing, but I do think it’s important to be truthful about what your financial situation is.
That’s a big deal. If you have a student loan at law school, $80,000 or whatever and you don’t tell that person, that’s a big deal. If they’re getting ready to get married, they should probably meet with you.
That’s a good idea.
Reach out. I want to help.
Where can people find you?
We’re friends on Instagram, that’s where we found each other. You’re smart as anything and you’re awesome. Anything else that’s important you think I need to know or my followers?
I want to encourage you, Jen and your followers, that you all have a bright financial future. I know that divorce is difficult financially for everyone involved. It’s a major bump in the road, but you can recover from this and become better than ever.
Tackling Divorce Finances: During marriage, don’t rely on your spouse to handle all the finances. Know what you have, and have a voice.
Will you come back again? Because this is great.
I’d be happy to.
My followers love having financial information. I think it’s a plethora of greatness and people love to learn from good, smart women and men who know their stuff and you know it. You’re good, you’re smart, you’re educated and thank you for coming. I loved you being here.
Thank you so much. You just filled my love cup.
Thank you, Christina. Everyone knows where to find Christina, www.LynnFinancialLLC.com and everyone knows where to find me, www.JenniferHurvitz.com, on Instagram or on Facebook, and my new book, Woulda, Coulda. Shoulda.: A Divorce Coach’s Guide to Staying Married. I have an audiobook that I’m making. I thought I would do an audiobook. I have nothing else to do around here. That’s coming out. Everybody, follow Doing Divorce Right (or Avoiding it Altogether). Thank you for being here. Peace, love and truth. Thank you, Christina. We’ll see you soon.
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About Christina Lynn
Her journey led her down the path to become a personal finance expert. She is a retirement planner, Certified Estate Planner®, and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. Today, the mistakes she made in the past inform and have been translated into solutions for her clients.
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