As we deal with divorce, we often look at “life equity.” Yes, we consider many of the financial implications, but “prosperity” goes beyond money and financial assets. We turned to Michelle Jacobik, author of “Prosperity After Divorce: Take charge of your finances and create the life you really desire using Lifestyle Re-Design Planning” to share her views and perspective. Our interview with Michelle follows …
DivorceForce: For starters, can you share what your experience is as it relates to divorce?
Michelle Jacobik: Well, first and foremost, I am a divorcee myself. In 2009, life for me was pretty rosy. Two kids, married to my high school sweetheart, nice house, and I was a partner in a multi-million dollar sales organization. In 2010, we got divorced.
Life changed pretty dramatically. My expenses were higher. Retirement and savings we had built over 23 years together were split in half.
I realized I had to rethink and re-prioritize my life in order to regain my financial footing. Two years post-divorce, in 2014, I decided the price I was paying to be as successful as I was, was taking a toll on both myself and my kids. I decided to step away and retire from my business.
Again, I needed to make financial choices and changes.
I became very interested and passionate about how to muster through life’s transitions and through studying (I’m a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) this and my own experiences I figured out a process. What’s happened, as a result, is that I have now been able to educate and work with hundreds of people in this area of Financial Stability and LifeStyle Re-Design Planning.
DivorceForce: You are a budget coach. Please explain what that means and how you morphed into this professional service.
Michelle Jacobik: Yes, when I made the decision to retire from my business at the end of 2014, I had been leading financial education classes in my community. But there were pieces missing. I was delivering the ‘foundational’ education, but many people were still stuck and needed more support and individual guidance to get to the implementation stage. Because of my own experiences in business and finance, I started a practice providing budget coaching services. I would build my clients’ solid workable plans (budgets) and provide them with extra resources (such as a virtual envelope system) they needed to be successful at meeting their debt reduction and wealth building goals.
Here’s the interesting caveat ~When I started doing private work with clients something strange happened. Seventy-five percent of the people calling me for help or enrolling in my courses were divorced women, even though I advertised to a more general audience. These women were coming to me two to five years post-divorce and what they were coming to the table with was a combination of lack of education, fear and mass confusion. Many had not taken the time right after the divorce to start planning what was going to need to be ‘re-designed’. You see, I was faced with the same challenges. I had to figure out how to regain my financial footing. I went looking for information and support but there wasn’t any! Once I left the courtroom steps, I had to figure it out on my own.
I believe wholeheartedly that FINANCIAL CONSISTENCY AND FINANCIAL STABILITY can be available to everyone.
If we have a plan and we are able to pointedly control our buying decisions, we don’t necessarily lose our financial footing when life happens to us on life’s terms.
I believe it’s essential that you budget to create that solid footing.
DivorceForce: While you feel that getting one’s finances in order is extremely important, you mention in your book that “Money alone does not equal prosperity” Please share your views on that.
Michelle Jacobik: Yes! For several years now, I have been helping people create goals that move them towards their version of prosperity. Money is my genius zone. I’m a numbers whiz; nothing makes me happier than a functional budget and a mathematically-sound plan. People need to look at what is going on at THIS moment, not what could or “should” be. What does the ‘Re-Designed’ life look like? What is the money in and money out? What are they not looking at in terms of new responsibilities, that at one time were covered by two people?
But here’s the thing I’ve noticed…Money alone does not equal prosperity.
Even when the numbers line up, if we don’t feel prosperous, secure, and supported within ourselves, all the money in the world won’t solve our problems. We become like uprooted trees just waiting for the ax to fall…
People not only need to understand their finances, but as they delved into their money habits, beliefs, and fears, we encountered prosperity blocks that had nothing to do with dollars and cents.
Sometimes these blocks are directly related to their divorce situations, but often they were lifelong patterns that were triggered in new ways by the upheaval in their lives~ in their cases the divorce
By “re-staking their trees” in six key areas—Finances, Emotions, Habits, Work, Family, and Spirituality ~we were able to address their deep-seated issues and create solid ground for them to replant their roots and grow stronger.
Yes! By mapping out their budgets and examining their financial habits, divorcees are able to tap into their deepest dreams, desires, and visions, and release unhelpful patterns and behaviors that had been plaguing them for years.
To this day, every time I sit down with a client to map out their plan for prosperity after divorce, we end up shifting to something deeper and more profound than their bank account balance.
DivorceForce: You state “money is the gateway to creating real¨ lasting change in one’s life.” Why do you have this perspective?
Michelle Jacobik: I just shared about prosperity and money being two different entities. But here’s the thing: Money is a perfect gateway to designing and understanding your new life. In divorce, money is our biggest stressor. It’s our survival. It’s our lifeline. And how we use it, manage it, and relate to it can mean the difference between a new life on our own terms and a life lived in someone else’s direction. Avoiding the topic of money after divorce or avoiding the work that really is necessary to reassess things, certainly won’t get someone closer to their version of prosperity after divorce.
DivorceForce: In your book, “Prosperity After Divorce” you talk about the six pillars of your Lifestyle Re-Design Planning Process. What are they and tell us what this process looks like.
Michelle Jacobik: The Six Pillars are the Financial Pillar, the Emotional Pillar, Habits Pillar, Work/Family Pillar, and Spiritual Pillar. Here’s the thing. We are all like trees. When our roots go deep, and our trunks are strong, we can withstand anything. We prosper, no matter what life throws at us. But when our foundations are weak, or we ignore things that are eating away at our stability and prosperity, (like our unconscious money habits, emotional spending, or unhelpful beliefs), we are much more likely to crash and burn.
The book is like the support system for your readers blossoming trees, with the six pillars of the LifeStyle Re-Design Planning process functioning as the stakes, and their effort and intention serving as the ties. Even if they feel like a leaning tree right now, on the verge of toppling, they can get grounded, and reach for the sky. We begin in the Financial Pillar. In this pillar, we take a deep dive look into what their Lifestyle really costs. A full assessment of their NOW reality. Not just the ‘bills’ with due dates. We bring it ALL in. People leave so much out. It’s the biggest mistake I see. When you are not including everything, you have a false sense of what your life really looks like financially and when things pop up, everything feels like an emergency. You end up using credit cards and the “robbing Peter to pay Paul” approach becomes normal. While it may seem really scary to look at the whole picture of your lifestyle design, it is necessary to know what you need and if your current financial situation can sustain the things you are spending money on.
In the Emotional & Habits Pillars, I get people to look deeper at their emotional and habitual spending. Let’s face it, when we are emotionally driven, we aren’t even aware of what or why we are spending. We wake up with a ‘financial hangover’ that unfortunately can’t be cured with a pill. When we are putting together the lifestyle design, doing an ‘audit’ of your spending over the last 60-90 days will actually reveal areas where you are sabotaging your own version of prosperity. It’s the same with habits.
When I dug deep and assessed my eating lunch/dinner out habit, I was averaging about $30.50 day/$915 month. Add that to my daily once a day coffee stop and I was spending another $150+ month~ $13,000 a year was slipping through my hands. More of a shocker was when I multiplied that by 5 years … It was a $64,000! While the first number may not have seemed like a big deal, you can see that just two habits were taking me further from my prosperity vision than I anticipated. Making some small changes in this area paid off in huge ways.
The other pillars are the Work/Family and Spirituality Pillar. Sometimes major life transitions also require us to hit a reset button on our work/life situation. Many clients reach out to me scared and uncertain about their future and have no idea how to re-enter the workforce after being home raising kids for so many years. They have to figure out their ‘value and self-worth’ and truly tap into their unique gifts and talents in order to begin figuring out a way to earning income and to secure work. If they have been abused or feel ‘dis-guarded’ in any way, a healthy sense of self-worth has to be re-established. The work done in these two pillars are an integral part of the overall process as well.
Michelle Jacobik, CEO/Founder of Prosperity After Divorce, is a highly sought-after Budget Coach who helps divorced/divorcing women get control of their finances through her Lifestyle Re-Design Planning(™). Michelle’s book Prosperity After Divorce: Take charge of your finances and create the life you really desire using Lifestyle Re-Design Planning is available on Amazon.
She is a regular contributor/influencer at DivorceForce.com & Thrive Global