It takes some effort to disentangle your finances from another person. If you’ve done this before, then you are probably nodding your head.
The process of delving into couple’s finances typically takes it’s course of time, depending on how your relationship develops. I tend to take the dive right in approach in love, though I suppose it actually took seven years of marriage to actually have a functioning joint household account (though we opened savings accounts for goals before we were ever married). It can take a much greater effort to disentangle your assets after a marriage has ended.
My divorce finalized in August, but that is really just the beginning of the disentanglement that comes after divorce. This is exacerbated if you shared businesses and the like with your ex.
The task is one of those that has loomed over me and felt like a weight this entire fall. Luckily when I finally set myself to it, it was less of an effort that I feared it might be. It was more of a mental block. I did have to change numerous automated transactions for various mortgages, condo fees, and utilities. Now I’m down to closing a final account to call it done.
My lesson here is that the barriers we face in finances are most often in our head and are not financial at all. We make things more difficult than they have to be.
What is on your list of financial tasks that you are making harder than they are?
Anybody who has ever worked for a non-profit organization knows that the last quarter of the year makes all the difference in an annual budget. As someone who started giving philanthropically early on, I also take time to reflect at this time of year and consider what causes are most important to me that I may not have had a chance to give to thus far this year.
Everyone’s giving looks different, but I find it personally interesting to see how and why people choose where they give (or don’t give). Here is an overview at what my giving looks like this year, and why.
Rotary International Foundation – As anyone who is an avid reader knows, I’m a big Rotarian and highly support the great work that Rotary does around the world. I started doing a $25 monthly contribution last year, ironically when I was first on maternity leave and without a consistent income in the future. I did it in part to manifest wealth and giving in my life. At the end of the year I also contributed extra to make use of a matching that was offered by our club. My total giving for the year will be $400, plus additional credit will be matched.
InStove.org– I am also now on the Board of Directors for InStove.org, which makes the cleanest, safest, most fuel efficient stove in the world. As a new board member I have chosen to stretch myself and give an initial donation of $1000, along with my time and volunteer hours to leverage that funding even further. I realize that my grant making capacity makes a monetary contribution minimal in comparison, but I feel that it helps to show faith in the mission and support this incredible work.
Lewis & Clark College – I have also contributed to Lewis & Clark College for a number of years. Since I initially had a difficult time paying my way through LC, I feel particularly indebted to the institution that changed my life in so many ways for the better. I typically give $100 per year to LC. Perhaps one day I will increase this.
Kiva.org – I haven’t gone to the same level of commitment as my sister has, with her experiment giving $1000 through loans with Kiva. I figured I should at least top off my current account and be inspired to give a bit more. I just gave to a women’s group in Burkina Faso. It is only hard to choose between so many worthy folks wanting a little help.
EduCongo – Another great cause that I support and just gave a to. My dear friend Lou Radja is a fellow Rotarian and does tremendous work with a school that he and his father built in DRCongo. For now I’m giving enough to pay for a year of school fees for a student ($60), but I will be attending a fundraiser for EduCongo in the spring and plan to give more then. I also hope to make it out to visit the school at some point as well.
While I may not feel as flush without a steady paycheck coming in, as I have most often enjoyed, I still feel that it is important to give. It creates a virtuous cycle and keeps the giving going.
Manifesting our dream home has taken us 15 years, but only because we had to believe in our dream before it came true…then it happened very quickly.
Early in our relationship, Hubby and I went to two parties at beautiful Craftsman homes (at his professor’s and a fundraiser…not exactly grad school housing ;-). All these years later, I remember the feeling of falling in love with the spectacular woodwork and charming details. I vividly remember looking at each other with the earnest hope that we would some day be able to live in such an amazing home. Now we do. My jaw still drops into a gaping smile when I pass my own threshold. (Check out my virtual home tour…it really doesn’t do the place justice with the narrow lens, but it gives you an idea).
I shared recently about how I manifested our first dream homes, but it’s been truly amazing to manifest our current home. It feels like nothing short of a miracle, but I know that it happened because I was methodical in my manifesting and took action to make it a reality. It’s similar to what I’ve read in books like Notes from the Universe, but these are my personal notes.
1) Daydream from a place of security, rather than scarcity. I loved our home in inner NE Portland, and at the time when we moved in six years ago, I honestly couldn’t have imagined any place better suited for our growing family. Yet, after we had grown by two daughters, it came to mind that there would come a day when a one shower would be a challenge (and yes, I do think about how many people don’t even have plumbing or amazing water flowing from the tap, but I don’t recommend focusing on this too much while manifesting, unless you are ready and willing to manifest some real world change…so far, I’ve mostly left that job to my twin sister ;-). My point is that I came to the decision that we should move from a place of pondering the possibilities and building faith, rather than panic and doubt.
2) As soon I/we had make up my mind that we should move, I also declared my love for our home. Feeling the abundance is the best way to create more. When we shared our plans with our kids, I made a point to let the kids know that we should still feel blessed to live in our home. Our home would still make a lovely home for someone else and that stage of their lives. I made a point of mentally thanking and blessing our home as we steadily prepared it for sale.
3) From that place of feeling secure and blessed, I moved to expressing my gratitude. I made a full list of all the things I love(d) about our San Rafael home:
Charming & historic (1904 Farmhouse Victorian built by a former city councilor)
Beautiful and flowing layout (every inch of the space was well planned and spacious)
Nice size, big enough but not too big
Close-in in location – next to streetcar/MAX/bus, walkable to the Pearl and downtown
Shops and restaurants nearby…more every year
Huge backyard, shed, sand pit & fire pit, nice patio
Front and back porches
3 bedrooms upstairs
Colorful and cheery
High ceilings and nice light
4) Next, I enlisted my family to write a list together of all the things we wanted in a home (I would hate to manifest something that didn’t work for all of us!) The trick with manifesting is to dream big and write a very detailed list (or visual collage if you want to get creative).
So, our family wrote out a “Wish List to the Universe.”
Historic charm, modern updates
Chimney for Santa & cozy fires, with a beautiful mantle
Space for an outdoor fire pit
4 bedrooms (Kieran requested that his be “wide open for a queen bed”)
2 bathroom, one with a bath tub, one with a nice tiled shower
Lots of light, lovely colors
Room for picnic table, BBQ, hammock, garden pots and growing veggies
Finished basement – room for ping pong and playing
Close to the park, Miel, school, restaurants and shops
Insulated and efficient
Beautiful and peaceful
No need to fix much or remodel (I actually added the word “much” in the line after, thinking to myself that I couldn’t imagine being able to afford a house that wouldn’t need any work…now I wish that I hadn’t added that caveat…)
5) Immediately after coming up with our gratitude and wish lists, we came up with a list of actions we would need to take in order to sell our home. Everything from hire a real estate agent to stage our home. We prioritized what we needed to get done with a time line of about six tasks each month and a five month timeline to get our house ready for sell. We had made a similar list when selling our first home and with both where able to pace ourselves while somewhat smaller tasks while reaching a pretty huge goal. We posted this five month timeline on our refrigerator and checked off at least a task week until suddenly we had reached our initial goal of putting our place on the market by Memorial Day. The only radical change in our plan was that Kevin was offered his dream job in Astoria in early May, so we took a road trip to find our dream home. Yet, I know that his job offer wasn’t a fluke, but fate, manifesting our deepest dreams. The fact that we were able to sell our home in just a weekend for $51k above asking may seem like just a lucky market, but it was really a combination between believing in our dream home and taking consistent action.
Have you ever intentionally visualized and manifested your home?
As I get my financial and legal affairs in order, I’ve also taken the plunge and created my own living trust. This came about over the course of the last year or so, considering how I would want assets to be passed down to Clark and others. With my divorce, I’ve also had other legal changes that need to be recognized and dealt with (deeds changing over, moving bank accounts, finalizing taxes, etc), so the timing seemed right to deal with such matters.
What is a living trust?
A living trust is essentially your estate. This makes it clear what your requested asset allocation would be in the event of your death. It is also a way to avoid probate and make things easier for your family and ensure that your wishes are honored and that your family is planned for.
It has been helpful for me to consider how I would want my finances to be dealt with, and what I would want to go to various folks. Of course, we all want to live to a ripe old age, but planning for the possibility of death is essential to not only yourself, but also your family.
Life changes, plan for it to
I also have an interesting situation of wrapping this process up with a new partner. I started this process last December. In fact, between the time of making the appointment to talk about creating a living trust, and having the conversation with my lawyer, things had shifted in my life to the extent that I asked about how to plan for the possibility of a divorce. Now, as I end the process, I find myself in a new relationship that I see myself being in for the long term. I would have been planning for the possibility of such a relationship, but actually having the different scenarios in front of you is a bit different.
The other reason to have a living trust is to help plan for avoidance of taxes. Luckily with the estate taxes as they are, and the number of people that I would leave various assets to, it would be unlikely for any of my benefactors to face taxes unless I have considerably more than I have today (which is hopefully the case).
Grow Up and Plan for Death
It definitely feels like I have my big girl pants on when planning for my trust. I created my first will when I left to Afghanistan in 2007, but articulating my wishes and looking at my finances in more details has been a helpful process. Similar to my views on a prenuptial agreement, I find it very helpful to have a plan for what you’d like things to look like in various situation or scenarios. What might change over the next ten to twenty years? It’s good to be prepared.
This is the first time that I’ve really shared about my net worth directly on Sustainable Family Finances. I was actually one of the first finance bloggers to share their net worth publically (on my old site DINKs Finance). I’ve continuous posted about my net worth for ten years. I’ve also been featured on J Money’s Top Net Worths for Finance Bloggers on RockStar Finance, coming in at number 11 of the 180 finance bloggers who publically share their net worth.
It is bold to be the first. It is also a bit scary. It also doesn’t matter how much money you have or don’t have. Yes, if you are wondering, I have been criticized for sharing. I guess it came off as bragging, even though I had considerable less than I do today. But I also feel a certain obligation to myself and know if I track my progress and create goals for myself, that I can take what I have and grow it into whatever I can dream it to be. I also hope that it is helpful for readers to see what is feasible over a decade.
My first official individual net worth comes in at $1,058,434. My ability to grow and create wealth so far has been pretty impressive. (Darcy is giving me a virtual high five…this is huge!). I’ve worked my ass off for sure. I’ve never really ever had just one job. I’ve always juggle a few different income generating activities. Being a landlord for 12 years should say enough. I started saving for retirement at $25 a month and grew that to over $300k.
As you can see, the more you have, the more you owe. Making money is not for sissies. Owing nearly a million dollars is not something to take lightly. Wealth comes with a great deal of responsibilities and its own set of challenges.
My net worth gives a pretty candid look at where I’m at financially. What it doesn’t show is what comes next. I’m at a space in my life where I’m looking at this question very closely. How best do I leverage what I have to create financial stability and long term wealth creation? Follow along to find out!