Tag Archives: advice

Thanks-parting: Dealing with Divorce on Thanksgiving

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If you’ve been through a divorce recently, you are certainly more than aware of how different (and sometimes difficult) each day can be.  This goes tenfold for the holidays.  

The first Thanksgiving that you spend away from your ex-partner is bound to be a trying time.  A day synonymous with familial joy and “coming together” will naturally seem a little heavy when on your own.  Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to keep the painful memory pangs to a minimum and the glorious gravy enjoyment to a maximum. 

Ring in the new

It’s obvious that this day will inadvertently drudge up memories of previous Thanksgiving celebrations.  Some of these memories may be quite pleasant, others can be the utter opposite.  One way to combat these ghosts is to change things up.  By creating new habits for the day and devising fresh traditions, your mind will be focused on the tasks at hand, rather than languishing in previous experiences.  One potential benefit, right off the bat, is that if you used to spend the day with your ex’s fam, you’re now entirely free of that shackle.  You can visit with your own clan, or a specific group of friends, if you choose.  Forget cooking and go out for dinner.  Even better, really relish in what the holiday is all about; thank your lucky stars that you have what you have and volunteer at a homeless shelter, doling out seasonal food.  Whatever you do, the past customs that you and your ex engaged in will be a faint memory as you create entirely new moments this year. 

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Talk turkey 

Granted, this is a time of thankfulness and grateful reflection, but you’ve been through a rough year and can’t be expected to simply grin through the pain.  It’s actually the perfect time to pull that special relative or comrade aside and let your emotions flow freely.  With the abundance of caring people conveniently assembled, odds are that there will be a trusted someone (or several) that you can talk to.  Not suggesting to turn this whole event in a pity party, but go someplace private and unburden yourself.  You’ll feel some of that emotional weight instantly lifted so you can fully enjoy the rest of the festivities.  Remember, this may be an overwhelmingly hard time for you, but you should be considerate of other people’s feelings too; it’s their day as well.

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The Kid’s Table  

As with many divorce related issues, the hardest aspect can be if children are in the mix.  One thing that can assuage the troublesome topic of how to divide their time (between you and your ex) is to be calm and ready to compromise.  Maybe you have to relinquish them for the actual day, but then get to spend Black Friday with them, shopping with glee.  The point is that arguing with your ex about who goes where and when will only acerbate the situation and make everyone feel tense.  Just be reasonable and think of your kids’ feelings; nobody wants to hear about how mom/dad is ruining the holiday by _______; your ex is still your child’s parent, a pivotal person in their lives forever, and badmouthing them always makes you look bad.  

Give thanks

Whether your family is the type that goes around the table before the turkey is cut and everyone states what they are thankful for, or if it’s just tacitly implied, a large component of this holiday is the expression of gratitude.  Take a few minutes to sit down and write out (or type) what you personally have to be thankful for this year.  Go through everything you can think of, big and small.  This simple exercise will soon have you seeing just how bright the silver lining in this divorce cloud is, as a bevy of wonderful things flows from your mind and on to the page.  By assessing all of the gifts you have in your life, you can crystalize a plan for the future, or just sit back and revel in the positive mindset you’re now in.  

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No matter what anyone says, this may be a particularly hard time for you to get through.  Try to relax and follow the aforementioned steps to the best of your ability.  Just remember that life truly does go on, and once the day is done and everyone has returned to their prospective homes, there still will be the scrumptious leftovers to feast on later.  

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 -Joe Leone 

9 Ways to Save During the Holidays

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It’s the same story every year, isn’t it?  The holidays arrive, in a whirlwind of candied yams, spiked nog and flimsy tinsel, and then all of a sudden it’s January 2nd; you’re cold, still hungover and decidedly broke.  So what’s a festive yet cash strapped gal/guy like yourself to do?  Why, start your shopping bonanza with thriftiness as well as cheeriness, that’s what. 

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Don’t Budge (from your budget), Blixen 

Most people begin the shopping process by fashioning a list of all the people they need to procure presents for, in a jolly and jovial, Santa-esque manner.  This is a big Ho-Ho-No.  You first need to look at the cumulative present budget that you have to work with.  Now, you can break it down, communist-like, by dividing the figure by the exact amount of people you need to buy for, and each person gets a present within this set monetary parameter.  The other option is to allocate varying percentages of the budget to each individual (let’s face it, great Aunt Trudy who’s visiting from Albuquerque, that you’ve met once, shouldn’t get the same caliber of present as, say, your spouse).  After you perform a fair assessment of who should get what, you may find that you need to trim some fat from the list; sorry, slightly sketchy Steve from down the block, no fruitcake for you this year.

Be Practical, Prancer 

A further caveat to factor in to the spending budget is any and all other holiday related expenses.  These may include, but are not limited to, shipping costs for delivering presents to those pesky out-of-state folk, postage for holiday cards, any new holiday specific home decor items, the anticipated surge in the electric bill due to lights continuously running, scrumptious holiday themed treats, and merry more.  Decide what is essential and then assign these things a monetary cap.   

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Carols & Cash only, Comet 

This is an age old trick that can help even the most magnanimous shopper stay within required fiscal boundaries; leave the credit cards at home and only carry wintry-cold, hard cash.  Some people can never stick to the budgets they have devised once they find themselves in the glittering shopping malls, all strategically loaded with goods designed to drain your bank accounts.  To avoid a Maxed Out X-mas, leave all forms of plastic behind and just bring the set amount of bills necessary to get all your stuff.  This way when your cockles are warmed by the sight of a Twerking Elmo or an Electrolux with disco lights – ‘That would just bring little Timmy oh so much joy this year!’ – you are forced to stay within the confines of your cash limit.  

Don’t dawdle, Dasher!

Often the weeks leading up the the big events can be hectic and stressful, leaving you with little time to get your shopping done.  So what’s the result?  You end up sprinting through whatever stores are open on Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa Eve; a virtual prisoner to whatever items are left in stock, at ridiculously marked up rates.  “Was gonna get Janey a doll made of yarn this year, but the only thing left here are these Tiffany earrings – oh well!  We’ll have to get her ears pierced, too – they do that for toddlers, right?”  No matter how busy you are, don’t procrastinate!  Get your shopping done post-haste.

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DIY, Dancer

Sure, everybody likes shiny wrapping paper and all that jazz, but some presents can take the form of actions rather than goods.  Offering to shovel an elderly neighbor’s walkway, cat-sitting your crazy aunt’s even crazier cat, making a few extra gingerbread cookies for your ornery mail-person; all these kindly gestures are presents that will be very much appreciated and don’t cost a red-nosed cent.  

Use e-Cards, e-Cupid!

Holiday greeting cards can be fun, but when you think about how expensive they can be, along with the added burden of postage, in addition to the amount of trees that have to be murdered… e-Cards look like the way to go.  With zero waste and tons of fun, you can customize these little fellows to say (and even sing!) anything you like.  They are either free or very inexpensive, relative to physical cards, so utilizing these can help free up some extra cash for the rest of the budget.  Also, they’re quite time efficient; knock out that entire list in a just a couple of clicks.   

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Donate, Dunder 

If times are tight for you, just imagine how bad they can be for some others out there.  One way to combat the rampant commercialism and overindulgent consumerism is to collect a few of the more mature members on your list (not the lil’ ones, of course), and see who would be amenable to taking a donation (in their name) to a charity in lieu of a present.  Volunteer that you would like to do the same thing; this way several of you can combine your assets and deliver a sizable gift to the organization of your choice.  It’s the season of giving, and going through with this will have you feeling truly in the spirit.  

Let’s Vacay, Vixen

If you have a significant other, significant mother or close-knit family, you may want to skip the gifts altogether and go on a trip.  The good news here is that during the actual holiday dates (Christmas, New Year’s Eve), prices on hotels, plane fares and the like take a dramatic dip.  It’s a great way to come together as a couple, or entire clan, and see some of the natural and man-made gifts already out there for the taking! 

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Be resourceful, Rudolph 

If you end up with a couple of pennies left over after all is said and unwrapped (or are given a few of those super thoughtful ‘gift cards’ to various stores yourself), you can think ahead to next year and take advantage of the cavalcade of sales now occurring at all the local shops (and online as well).  Yes, shopping may be the last thing you want to engage in all over again, but the slashed prices on inventory (that just needs to be moved) are really unbeatable in January.  So light your sleigh to savings! …or something like that.  

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-Joe Leone   

How to Avoid Bad-Mouthing Your Ex

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After a divorce or break-up, you are going to be angry. When people are angry, they often want to express their negative emotions, but that is not always a great idea. In fact, giving in to the temptation to bad-mouth your ex will probably work against you, and, what’s worse, against your children.

Therapist Ashley Davis Bush advises that you strive to remember that your children are one-half your ex, which means negative talk about him or her is negative talk about them. Whether or not it is immediately apparent, they are genetically predisposed to be like the person you firmly dislike, so they can be directly hurt by the things you say.

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Another, less easy to digest piece of advice is to remember that you once loved, or at least thought you loved, this person. Have respect for the time in your life when things were different, and try to learn to accept and respect the choices you made in the past. Saying negative things about that individual will only make you internalize the idea that your time with him or her was a mistake.

Avoiding derogatory talk about the other person may be fairly easy at first, but what happens when they start saying bad things about you? Resisting the urge to retaliate or defend oneself is extremely difficult and often goes against human nature. However, the other person’s behavior should not influence your own when it comes to what’s best for your kids. Their inability to control themselves means they are hurting, and while you may not be able to lend a helping hand or an understanding ear, you can at least be the bigger person and give your kids an opportunity to talk about what they hear without having to also hear your rebuttal.

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One way to approach this is to stop thinking of that person as your “ex” and instead think of him or her as your child’s other parent. This will reinforce the responsible role both of you should be playing in your child’s life and take the emphasis away from your relationship that went sour. Use the time you interact with your ex to create positive experiences that teach them how to get along with others, and if that’s not possible because of your ex or because you are simply too upset, then re-focus your energy on doing something fun with your children instead of dwelling on the insult and anger you feel.

Regardless of your situation and the personality of your ex, it is advisable to have a thick skin and avoid letting negativity from the other side get you down or lower your resolve. Your primary goal should be to show your child love and compassion, both for them and the situation. Bad-mouthing ultimately brings you down and can create a risk of being alienated from your child. Even if your ex is saying mean things to your child, such as, “You are not smart because your mother doesn’t push you hard enough to do well in school,” resist the urge to respond directly by saying something about him or her. Try instead to create an open environment in which your children can talk to you about the painful things they are hearing.

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Even if you do find yourself slipping and resort to saying negative things about your child’s other parent, you can stop. Ashley Davis Bush also advises creating a habit of saying, “Cancel that,” even mid-sentence, and beginning again. You can substitute negativity for more neutral words, such as, “My child’s other parent and I regularly disagree,” rather than saying something along the lines of, “My ex does things in a stupid way.” The key to not bad-mouthing your ex is keeping an eye on the future, not the past. Move forward into the future with strength and determination, not vengeance.

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How NOT to Ask your Partner for a Prenup

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As we’ve previously investigated, prenuptial agreements can be a very necessary and useful tool in protecting one’s assets and interests.  Ergo, it is (pretty much) unanimously agreed upon that securing a prenup can be a smart road to travel down when approaching the ever ambiguous altar.

Yet how does one broach this (potentially) highly sensitive subject matter?

Well, there may not be an absolute “right” way, but there certainly are few irksome and bumbling phrases and terms you should desperately avoid.

“I don’t want you to divorce me and then take all my money.”

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Well, duh.  This is clearly the most common fear of someone who has money when they enter into a marriage with someone who doesn’t have a penny/is in debt/has a loan shark waiting for them in the parking lot.  Perhaps a “let’s get a prenup so, in case things don’t work out, we both get what’s fair” will sound less insulting and laden with paranoia.

“Sorry, but I just want to make sure you won’t divorce me as soon as you get your citizenship …and take all my money.”

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Um…le awkward.

When walking down the aisle with someone from another land, there may be a slight tickling at the back of your brain that they are getting hitched to you solely so they can enjoy the fruits of your country.  If this is the case, simply explain that you need a prenup in place because it looks good to the immigration board when they conduct your review.  This will at least temporarily assuage some of the awkwardness and buy you some time…in the event that they aren’t just using you for your glorious connection to the USA: debatably the greatest country in North America.

“Hey, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m scared you will divorce me at the drop of a hat and use your high powered lawyers to make sure I never see a penny.”

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Ok, so if you’re the one who is entering into the marriage without any dough, you may (justly) have some trepidation about getting married to someone who could conceivably squash you in divorce court.  Here a touch of simple ‘reverse psychology’ may help: “Just so you know that I’m not trying to rob you legally blind, let’s get a prenup!”  This may quell their fears about your intentions, while you quietly conjure up some equitable prenup conditions of your own.

“I just want to ensure that if we ever get divorced you won’t raise our children Wiccan.”

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Prenups are not only about money.  They can state certain things about child rearing and the like.  If you are scared your mate has the potential to do weirdo things with your kid’s upbringing (be it religious instruction/cult involvement/AmWay sales) you can protect their innocent minds with a thoughtfully crafted premarital agreement.  To execute this with propriety, you may go with something along the lines of: “It’s so great that we’re on the same page now with everything – just in case either one of us loses our marbles one day, let’s get a prenup that will safeguard our future offspring from lunacy.  Heart you, honey!”

“So…I was talking to my friend…she thinks you have a huge amount of debt that you’re not telling me about.  I’m thinking prenup: STAT.” 

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Sometimes people have secrets.  Sometimes those secrets come in the form of ginormous, gaping chasms of debilitating debt.  In the modern times in which we live, people are more aware than ever that when you marry someone, you are also entering into a blessed union with their finances, be they good or ohdearlordwhatishappening??  If you suspect a massive amount of credit card/student loan/etsy.com account debt looming in their past, you may want to arm yourself with a prenup.  One alternative to the graceless phrasing above could be: “Sweetie, I’ve battled with some debt demons in the past.  I’d love for us to get a prenup so we both feel confident that we are protected from either one of us possibly going off the deep end.”  It’s not ideal, but at least they will feel the empathy you are expounding, which may even lead them to coming clean themselves about the $32,000 they owe to Bath & Body Works.

“I am worried that my business will blow up and you will rob me of the one thing I have put my entire heart, soul and loins into.”

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When you are a small business owner, it’s easy to develop a strong attachment to the very thing you have cultivated and nurtured into being.  If a prospective spouse sends off the vibe that they may usurp you of your little business-baby, you naturally will feel a tad overprotective.  In this case, all you need to say is something to the effect of: “You are the most important thing in my life; my business is the second.  Let’s hash things out so everyone knows exactly what we’re entitled to.”  It’s not perfect, but it’ll do the proverbial job.

“If you dump me, I’m keeping the rings.”  /  “If you dump me, I want my rings back.” 

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Believe it or not, this is an actual point of contention for numerous couples.  Sometimes the engagement or wedding ring is a family heirloom that not only has monetary worth but emotional value as well, and the person supplying it will want it returned in the event of an uncoupling.  There are other circumstances where the person receiving the rings feels that these objects are then their property and they are forever entitled to them (the law, incidentally, is typically on their side in this case).  Whatever the scenario is, if you want to make sure you ultimately retain the rings, simply say: “Dear, you know these rings mean a lot to my family; so my mother/father/wacky Aunt Helen is making me get it in writing that if something goes awry, they then can have them back” or “If it somehow doesn’t work out with us, I just want to always have the rings to remind me of you.”  They’ll still likely know you’re spouting fabricated nonsense, but this makes it a little more palatable…like you’re actually considering their feelings.

“If you gain a lot of weight, I want out.”

Uh…there’s just no delicate way to put this one.

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-Joe Leone 

The Silver Separators: Financial Implications of Divorce After 60

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The concept of marriage may need to hire a new P.R. rep.  As new marriages among millennials have seen a steady drop over the years, established marriages are not lasting as long as they once were either.  One group in particular where the divorce rate has spiked is seniors.  The trending term applied to these newly liberated individuals is “Silver Separators.”  While many are enjoying their newfound relationship freedom, there could be some not too pleasant financial consequences to this later in life uncoupling.

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