Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Recovering Financially After Divorce

Your financial situation after a divorce depends on these factors: support and settlement payments, job status, business opportunities, time, assets, and the financial needs of you and your family. Traditionally, stay-at-home moms have had the most difficult transition after a divorce. Usually the stay-at-home mom suddenly has to find work. Most likely you did have a job before you had kids, and your first thought might be to go back to your old workplace and see what’s available.

Then you often come up against the ladder model. This is the way many businesses operate. You climb up one rung at a time, but if you get off the ladder you land at the bottom again. When a woman quits her job, and goes home to raise the kids, she loses her place in the business world. She not only misses out on promotions; she often won't even be able to walk back into the job she left. She’s gotten off the ladder. This doesn’t mean things are hopeless, but many stay-at-home moms have a lot of catching up to do, and there is no way to entirely escape the effects of lost time.

Here are three easy ways to get back on track:

1. Assess your skills. What have you learned in your years in the home? Is there any part of being a housewife and mother that you’re particularly good at? Something people pay for? Something you like? Or was there any particular thing you were good at back when you worked? Something you could develop now, and quickly develop into a service with a market? It’s important that it be something you like. I don’t believe you can be happy working full-time at a job you hate.

Make a list of all of the things you enjoy doing. Might there be a job in a field that could harness your natural talents and pay you a decent salary? For example, let’s say that you love to plan parties. Could you get a job in a party planning company? A catering hall? How about working in a hotel as an event planner? Do you love kids? How about running a daycare center out of your home? That way you do not have to pay a sitter. (Though be careful of the daycare option; it’s an idea that occurs to so many single mothers, and the field is often crowded. Before you get a license make sure you have customers.)

I could give you example after example here but the point is to find something you enjoy and find a way to incorporate that into your work. If you are marketing your skills, remember to be businesslike about it. This applies to appearance, courtesy, and confidence, but it also means watching the bottom line. Always look at what you are spending, what you are getting for it, and how much profit you’re making.

2. Assess your education. Do you already have a college degree or some other training? Can you go back to school to learn a trade? There are many short-term courses out there that can have you earning money in no time. A typical realtor’s course is only a few weeks of full-time attendance. A hair stylist can get a license in most states in nine months of full-time schooling, and it’s a job where you can make terrific money. I used to own a hair salon and the stylists made much more money than I did! Most hairdressers get high commissions and make a lot in tips. For the most part they set their own hours.

Check into other programs that can get you certified in a short time. Schools offer refresher courses in many skills. When my ex complained that he had been out of the computer field for too long and couldn’t find work, I called the school where he had learned his skills years earlier—the Chubb Institute. They offered free refresher courses and job placement. See if you qualify for such a program. We never know until we ask. But most importantly, pick something you have an interest in and that you will do well.

3. Think about starting your own business. Many businesses can be started on little or no money. In the past I have sold children’s clothing on eBay, and the eBay business model works for a lot of services. In many cities people offer to clean out garages and attics, selling the contents on eBay, and splitting the profits 50/50 with the owner. I found a huge demand for used children’s clothing. Most of us throw our kids’ clothing into those donation bins. You can sell those clothes on eBay and make money. All you need is a computer and a digital camera. Ask friends who are discarding their hand-me-downs to give them to you instead.

This also applies to antiques, collectibles, and other valuables. People have so many things they would love to get rid of but they don’t have the time. There are other options. Many women have begun cleaning homes or businesses, and soon find themselves employing others to do the actual cleaning, while they price jobs, do the hiring, and inspect the work. Of course there are countless small business ideas that you can do right from your home. Be creative. If it seems sensible, team up with a friend or partner. Owning your own business can be fun, profitable, and boost your self-esteem. It can also get you tax breaks, freedom from bosses, and it may even make you rich.

No comments: