Divorce in a Loving Way

Divorce in a Loving Way

Easy Ways to Cut Expenses Going Into the New Year

Divorce in a Loving Way

Divorce in a Loving Way

 

 

 

There’s a noticeable trend with celebrity divorces and their press release statements when they are divorcing or separating.

As sideline friends (aka fans), we often have strong reactions to the news, depending on how we feel about the couple.

“It’s about damn time.” (for those we thought should have never married anyway 😏😏)

“OMG, nooooooooooo. They were couple goals” (think Jason Momoa & Lisa Bonet 😥😥)

“Oh Wow, damn.” (think Blair Underwood & Desiree DaCosta 😯😯)

These are just some of the sentiments shared on social media and in our girlfriend conversations.

We read the statements released by the couple looking for a clue about “why… what happened?”

We express anger, disappointment, and shock as if we know them personally, all the while knowing we are so many degrees separated from the celebrity couple that their divorce will have little to no impact on our day-to-day lives.

But what about the people who are close to us and decide to divorce?

Or what about when it’s us?

There are times when the way celebrities lead their lives is so unrelatable that there’s not much that every day people can learn from it.  But I think that this trend presents an opportunity for us to learn from.

The FIIRM Approach methodology includes declaring your intention at the very beginning of the divorce process. Setting an intention doesn’t mean you will do everything right or won’t have moments when you feel unsure, but it’s a chance to hold yourself accountable and manage the expectations of others.

Celebrity divorce statements typically have the same themes – sadness, continuation of love & respect, the desire to move forward apart, and the need for privacy.

With some couples, you finish reading those statements and either believe it because the couple has demonstrated positive and mature behavior throughout their marriage, or…

On the other hand we may be thinking that message is about as pointless as wearing sandals in the snow, because the couple has routinely demonstrated toxic, volatile, immature, or routine disrespectful behavior.

So what’s the lesson for us normal blue & white collar working folk?

I wrote a blog post in 2020 called How to Get the Support You Need During a Divorce to help women understand the power they have in shaping their divorce experience.

While you may have the judgment of millions of strangers to consider as you prepare to divorce, managing the expectations of your family by setting the tone in a joint or individual statement can help you get the support you need.

If you want a positive divorce, state those intentions to your soon-to-be-ex as well as your close family and friends so that it is established how you plan to move through the process and what boundaries you will put in place.

In the blog post mentioned above, one of the things I mentioned is that giving your statement means “You’re being specific and kind in your request while disarming some of their gut reactions.”

Your statement doesn’t need to be delivered through a publicist or posted on social media. It can be shared via email, text, or even phone call based on your opinion of the best way to communicate the news.

Once the statement is made, there isn’t much need to get your family and friends involved.

If you’ve ever heard someone say “I’m staying out of it”, it’s usually because most people DON’T want to be caught in the middle of your divorce, especially if it turns hostile.

Of course sharing a statement doesn’t necessarily stop people from asking questions, but I welcome you to take another page from the celebrity playbook and respond with “No comment” or “There is nothing further to share at this point” and keep it moving.

This is your way of indirectly pointing them back to your statement as a reminder that you want to divorce in a loving way or at the very least keep the drama and interference to a minimum.  

Divorcing in a loving way can also mean that you have no desire to “fight to the death” with your soon-to-be-ex. This may look different for each of us depending on the circumstances of the divorce, however, here are a few examples:

  1. Pick a less contentious divorce method/try to stay out of court as much as possible
  2. Understand your emotional triggers and non-negotiable items
  3. Make sure you are having conversations or negotiations from an informed position
  4. Find emotional/mental support specifically for your divorce journey
  5. Refrain from oversharing
  6. Understand your partner’s triggers
  7. Spend more time listening 
  8. Choose mutually beneficial ways to communicate (email or letters)
  9. Be mindful of responses from a place of anger or hurt. Pause and collect your thoughts when needed. 
  10. Understand that everyone is going to lose in some way. 

Your divorce may not look like something on the Hallmark Channel (one of my favorite channels by the way,) but you have the opportunity to frame your divorce journey with the best intentions, which is a great place to start. 

Join us in the FIIRM Hero Community to get access to exclusive financial and divorce information. 

 

 
Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst ®, and the primary divorce financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners prepare for divorce to avoid common financial mistakes and confidently maintain their financial security. She uses proven strategies within the FIIRM Approach methodology so her clients can manage their money, debt, and credit in their new financial life. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE Ultimate Resource Guide HERE. 

What the Heck Is Going On With Your Student Loans

What the Heck Is Going On With Your Student Loans

Easy Ways to Cut Expenses Going Into the New Year

What the Heck Is Going On With Your Student Loans

What the Heck Is Going On With Your Student Loans

 

 

 

It’s possible your student loans are breaking up with you and you don’t have to pay them. 

If you have them, this news may make you very happy. 

If you don’t, this news may piss you off because you feel like someone is getting away with not paying their debt. 

Also possible that you are reuniting with your student loan payments soon (and maybe that doesn’t feel so good).

Understanding what will happen with your loans depends on when you took them out, who loaned you the money, your marital status, and a few other factors. 

Furthermore, if you have kids going away to college soon, their financial aid package may not be what you’re expecting. 

Either way – just here to inform you. 

Let’s take a look and see if you should care. 

 

 

Student Loan Payment Relief

 

The Federal Student Loan dictators granted you grace and mercy by pausing payments and interest accrual on student loans in 2020 until January 31, 2022 , May 1, 2022.

While payment relief may be extended, yet again, beyond May 2022, I doubt they will extend much past the election this fall. 

When the moratorium on payments, collection activity, and interest accrual ends, it’s important to know what might happen. 

  1. Your payment amount may change (you might want to change your repayment plan if you’re able).
  2. Your payments may be automatically drafted depending on your unique circumstances and your servicer.
  3. Your servicer may be different (you should have received notice if you have a new servicer).
  4. Your interest rate will return to your pre-Covid rate unless you modified your loan during the pandemic.
  5. Collection activity may resume on defaulted loans.

It is highly likely that you need to take some action whenever the moratorium officially expires, so be prepared to log in to your account or contact your loan servicer sooner rather than later so there is no impact on your credit score or overall financial picture.

Added bonus: The months that you have been provided relief WILL count as qualifying months if you are applying for forgiveness under the Income-driven repayment plan (you made 20 years of qualified student loan payments) or public loan service forgiveness. 

Speaking of loan forgiveness… see below. 

Check the FAQ on the Student Aid site for official details. 

 

 

Full Forgiveness of Your Navient Student Loans

 

According to Forbes and NBCNews, the Biden administration has helped make it much easier to get student loans forgiven, including the canceling of more than $9B of student loans for some borrowers. 

This is one of the times when I feel like something is better than nothing. 😆

Additionally, Navient, a student loan servicer and collector, was sued for allegedly deceiving borrowers and providing subprime or risky loans. While Navient admitted no wrongdoing, they agreed to a settlement that will result in thousands of student loans being canceled/forgiven in 39 states, once approved by the court. 

Given the number of people who have student loans, myself included, you will likely not be included in the pool of people impacted, however, here’s how you know if you are:

  • Qualifying States/Residency for Forgiveness of Your Navient Student Loans: Borrowers with a military postal code or addresses in the following states as of June 30, 2021: AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WA, WI, and WV.     
  • Qualifying States/Residency for Forgiveness Your Navient Student Loans & Restitution Payments: Borrowers with a military postal code or addresses in the following states as of January 2017: AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MN, MO, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, TN, VA, WA, and WI.
  • How Much Will Be Forgiven: Borrowers with addresses in the states listed above are expected to receive full forgiveness of their Navient loan.  
  • How Much is Restitution: Borrowers with addresses in the restitution states listed above are expected to receive a check for $260. 
  • What if I was paying my Navient loans on time: Loans made between 2002-2014 with more than 7 consecutive months of delinquent payments before June 30, 2021, are eligible for full forgiveness.
  • Other important qualifiers: Loans made between 2002-2014 with more than 7 consecutive months of delinquent payments before June 30, 2021, AND the Borrower attended a for-profit school are on the Borrower Defense Loan List (e.g. DeVry, IIT) are eligible for full forgiveness.

If you don’t happen to fall in the categories mentioned above, you might still be eligible for loan forgiveness if you are a qualifying public service worker and have been previously disqualified for Public Service Loan Forgiveness as there is a limited opportunity to try again. 

Added bonus: The loan forgiveness will be tax-FREE!

You can find out more about the Navient Forgiveness suit here

Forgiveness details were compiled from the various attorney general and news sources. You are strongly encouraged to connect with your loan provider or research additionally to determine what actually applies to you. 

 

 

Financial Aid Changes

 

I don’t know about you, but there is NO way I would have been able to go to undergrad without student loans. 

I filed as an independent as soon as I could to get as much money as possible, because the only thing saved for me to go to college were well wishes. 😉

Maybe your kids are in a better situation than I was, but just in case you could use the help of grants and loans, you might want to know about some upcoming changes. 

In addition to the FAFSA form being shortened, the government has made some changes to the way financial aid will work.

Here are two notable changes:

  • A new formula has been established which will eliminate the benefit previously provided to households with more than 1 child in college. Starting in 2024-2025 school year, families will likely qualify for less financial aid due to this change. 
  • Eligibility for Pell Grants will be expanded to allow more students to qualify.
  • Subsidized student loans will be available to students as long as they are enrolled, as the maximum 3-year time limit has been eliminated. 
  • The parent a student lived with for the 12 month period prior to a FAFSA submission was previously considered the custodial parent for financial aid purposes. As of the 2024-2025 school year, the parent who provided the most financial support for the student in the prior-prior tax year is the custodial parent. This means that for the 2024-2025 school year, the 2022 tax information will be considered for the custodial parent as determined by the new rule. 

That last bullet point could have a pretty big impact on divorcing parents so you might want to take a look at the last part below.

 

 

Preparing for your child’s college expenses in your divorce

 

There are a couple of plans or agreements included in the divorce process and one of them could be a college support agreement. College support agreements may include specific information about who will be paying for tuition and school expenses, restrictions on maximum contributions, or even an agreement to give either parent the option to contribute to college expenses. 

Common college support agreement stipulations can include:

  • An equal split of expenses
  • Split expenses based on a pro-rata share of the parents respective incomes (static or fluctuating)
  • Lump-sum contribution of either parent
  • Transfer of a marital asset to the child or trust established for the benefit of the student
  • Contribution to a college savings account
  • The expected/estimated financial contribution of the student and agreement to cover the shortfall
  • Considerations for cosigning for student loans or obtaining Parent PLUS loans

I know that was a lot. My gut tells me that you will need to take additional action related to your own or your child or, at the very least, you’ll keep some of this information in your back pocket for when you might need it.

 

 
Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst ®, and the primary divorce financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners prepare for divorce to avoid common financial mistakes and confidently maintain their financial security. She uses proven strategies within the FIIRM Approach methodology so her clients can manage their money, debt, and credit in their new financial life. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE Ultimate Resource Guide HERE. 

How Changes to Zelle, PayPal & Cash App Impact You

How Changes to Zelle, PayPal & Cash App Impact You

Easy Ways to Cut Expenses Going Into the New Year

How Changes to Zelle, PayPal & Cash App Impact You

How Changes to Zelle, PayPal & Cash App Impact You

 

 

 

What you need to know about recent changes

 

Do you remember how the American Rescue Plan Act came to our rescue last year? 

No.

I got you…2 words… Stimulus Payment.

3 more words… Child Tax Credit.

This particular law gave quite a few economic benefits to those who were eligible and in need. 

It also gave you another present that you might not have necessarily wanted. 

The pandemic uncovered just how many Americans are gig workers/independent contractors and likely realized they weren’t getting their “fair share” so they did something about it. 

As of January 1, 2022, users of online payment apps/sites like PayPal, Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App need to be aware that the threshold of reporting transactions to the I. R. & S 😚 has been greatly reduced. 

Prior to the passing of this provision, freelancers and independent contractors were expected to use the honor system (especially for lower dollar amount transactions) and report income for goods and services over $600. 

Online payment sites would only report larger transactions (think $20,000+) according to my accountant friends.

Now, these same payment sites will report any transactions over $600 DIRECTLY to the IRS (aww, they’re so sweet 😏)

What does that mean for you?

Not much if you’re not running a business or you don’t receive excessive transactions via these apps. 

HOWEVER, if you have been running a business and accidentally- on- purpose have not been reporting this income, your tax situation/bill may look a little different in 2023. 

This brings me to my next point.

While this new rule should only apply to COMMERCIAL transactions (you’re still good to send your best friend money for your portion of the girl’s trip), let’s chat about a hypothetical situation.

Some of you may be receiving your child support payments (or considering receiving) via these same providers. 

2 important things to consider:

  1. If the amount is typically over $600 and happens on a regular basis (bi-weekly or monthly) there is a slight chance that a payment provider may think it’s a business-related transaction and think you should be taxed. Of course, you don’t want that, so you whip out your Court Order to show that it’s not a commercial transaction (See Point #2 expeditiously)
  2. It is a violation of the Zelle user agreement to use the “service to send money to anyone to whom you are obligated for payments made pursuant to court orders (including court-ordered amounts for alimony or child support”)

I’m hoping you catch my drift and plan accordingly. I wouldn’t want anyone to get in unnecessary trouble. Be careful, my friend, “the streets are watching” 😉  Child support is non-taxable income. I just want to make sure it stays that way for you. 

 

 

 
Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst ®, and the primary divorce financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners prepare for divorce to avoid common financial mistakes and confidently maintain their financial security. She uses proven strategies within the FIIRM Approach methodology so her clients can manage their money, debt, and credit in their new financial life. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE Ultimate Resource Guide HERE. 

5 Lessons Learned from Kelly Clarkson’s Divorce Journey

5 Lessons Learned from Kelly Clarkson’s Divorce Journey

Make Your Bedroom Your Sanctuary

5 Lessons Learned from Kelly Clarkson’s Divorce Journey

Lessons Learned from Kelly Clarkson Divorce Journey

 

 

 

Why Kelly Clarkson?

The dollars were big, the relationship turned hostile, and it appeared she was just trying to keep it all together when she probably wanted to kiss his a$$ goodbye… and many of us can relate to at least 1 of those!

While most of us don’t have Kelly Clarkson’s fame or her money, it doesn’t mean we don’t have her drama, or potentially could. 

So my friend, if you are a married or unmarried woman, this post was written with the intention of giving you some lessons that MIGHT be helpful at some point in your life.

This post is not intended to make fun or light of, or for that matter be disrespectful in any way to Kelly’s divorce journey. The experience sounds like it sucks and outsiders like you and me will NEVER know all the details, yet here we are.

Disclaimer: These lessons are NOT advice for your personal situation. Time and dates referenced are based on publicly reported/available information

 

Kelly and her soon-to-be-ex married in 2013 and filed for divorce in 2020

 

Lesson: Filing for divorce stops the clock in most situations. Why does this matter to you? Because I NEED you to understand that saying “This marriage is over”, moving out, or draining the account doesn’t constitute the “end”. Too many of us “stay in divorce decision purgatory” for too long. It’s not an easy decision to make, but it’s not official until it’s official — which means that sometimes not filing sooner can have negative financial implications. 

 

According to Life and Style mag, Kelly was awarded primary physical custody

 

Lesson: There is a difference between legal custody and physical custody. While we often see women “get the children”, it’s important to note that fathers CAN be awarded physical custody. Physical custody refers to the primary residence of the children, while legal custody largely refers to who has authority to make decisions. Being awarded primary physical custody before the divorce is final DOES NOT mean the same will stand once you receive your final judgment. (In short, don’t get too comfortable.)

 

Her soon-to-be-ex asked for joint physical and legal custody as well as over $400,000 in monthly support (including both spousal and child support)

 

Lesson: DUDE! $400K a month. Stop playing!! Anyway, I digress… The lessons about spousal and child support can be complex and are HIGHLY dependent on the family’s circumstances (location, income disparity, fit, age of children, etc.) however let’s focus on some important, relatively general, bits:

  • The preliminary ruling was that Clarkson pays her STBX just under $200,000 a month in support according to media reports. As more women become primary breadwinners, more women are paying spousal support. There are a number of ways that spousal support can be paid, but remember that the initial awarded amount may not be the same as the final. (See comfort note above)
  • Hopefully, you noticed that even though Kelly was awarded temporary primary custody she was paying child support.
  • Often it is assumed that the person who maintains primary custody (and sometimes even in joint custody situations) will be the RECEIVER of child support.

False my friend.

There are instances when the custodial parent is paying the non-custodial parent based on income disparity and parenting time.

 

Kelly asked for their prenup to be upheld

 

Lesson: Marital property is an asset acquired during the marriage. These assets may be purchased by either spouse, however, a prenup may dictate otherwise as far as the split of such assets when you divorce.

According to TMZ, Kelly’s STBX wanted all assets acquired during the marriage to be split evenly, as well as the income earned while they were married. Kelly’s prenup, if upheld, would prevent this from happening.

While it is possible for a prenup to be deemed invalid, it doesn’t happen often unless it was signed under duress, contained false information, not signed by both parties, or the terms are deemed unreasonably unfair/biased.

 

In 2021, Kelly asked the court to declare her legally single and restore her last name

 

Lesson: This is not uncommon, especially for divorces that are drawn out. The divorce may not be settled but the marriage can be declared officially over. AKA – Mingle like you’re single, legally!

 

Final thoughts

 

If you are preparing for a divorce or in the middle of one, please take note of some of the details of this divorce journey. The life of a celebrity can seem so different from yours, and, in a lot of ways it is. However, while we may not be able to hire the most skilled lawyers in the country to argue in our favor, the underlying principles of the law are fame agnostic. 

Think about how you would respond to each of the situations described above. 

If your response is that you would go CRAZY on your STBX, then it’s time to practice some patience and deep breathing, and maybe even grab the Silent Preparation Series as this digital resource can help you understand what to expect and how to prepare for a divorce. 

 

 

 
Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst ®, and the primary divorce financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners prepare for divorce to avoid common financial mistakes and confidently maintain their financial security. She uses proven strategies within the FIIRM Approach methodology so her clients can manage their money, debt, and credit in their new financial life. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE Ultimate Resource Guide HERE. 

Your Bedroom Can Be Your Sanctuary

Your Bedroom Can Be Your Sanctuary

Make Your Bedroom Your Sanctuary

Your Bedroom Can Be Your Sanctuary

Your Bedroom Can Be Your Sanctuary

 

 

“When you just need to get away… but can’t”

You need a place for comfort, peace, and solace in your own house. Your bedroom can be that sanctuary for you.

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Lisa Davis about this very thing, and how she helps busy women like you get the peace you need.

Tune in if you’ve been thinking about a bedroom refresh because of a major change in your life, or just because you deserve it!

Connect with Lisa Davis by visiting her website Syfrin Interior Design or following her on Instagram @syfrin_interior_design

 

 

 
Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst ®, and the primary divorce financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners prepare for divorce to avoid common financial mistakes and confidently maintain their financial security. She uses proven strategies within the FIIRM Approach methodology so her clients can manage their money, debt, and credit in their new financial life. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE Ultimate Resource Guide HERE. 

Lessons From My New Home Journey

Lessons From My New Home Journey

Lessons From My New Home Journey

Lessons From My New Home Journey

COVID-19.

 

🙄🙄🙄

I’m certain you’ve heard of it, and, depending on when you’re reading this, you’re living through it… unfortunately. 

Because of COVID, the real estate market was coo-coo crazy in 2020 when I sold my house, I received over 30 offers! 

A seller’s dream!

However, I wasn’t quite sure if and when I wanted to be a home-owner again, so renting was my choice for a while.

But because of COVID restrictions, I had it up to the max with being contained in my condo, plus, racing my teenager to the living room in the morning was getting old. 

I wanted a bit more space, a little more privacy, but I also didn’t want to give up my moderately priced, maintenance-free place. 

1st world problems, I know. 

After lots of considering and reconsidering, I decided not only to buy a house again, but to get a new home – new, new though. 😏

Honestly, I wasn’t in the mood to compete with 20 or 30 people on a resale crib, so I picked a home that wasn’t just new to me, it was new to the world – aka a new construction.

I’m writing this post to share with you my experiences from this very recent journey, but especially to help women like me – doing it alone. 

While the FIIRM Approach focuses on helping women prepare their finances for divorce, I recognize there are non-financial pieces that matter while you’re on your journey. 

This purchase brought out a lot of different experiences and emotions, some that I had never been through before. 

Yea, I’ve owned a home before, but this was interestingly different. 

The process involved A LOT of decisions to make because my house was semi-custom. 

That made things exciting, fun, scary, and emotionally exhausting. 🥺 Sometimes all of those feelings happened in one day. 

Ohh and let’s not forget pricey! 

Plus, I knew my DIY skills were wack!

I wasn’t handy with my first house and my husband did most of the work. 

Then all the normal fears came along. 

Can I really afford this? 

What if I lose my income? 

What if my health fails and I can’t work? 

What if it’s too much for me to handle?

For the most part, these thoughts are SUPER normal, and thankfully I didn’t let them stop me from moving forward. 

As a hard-working badass woman, that’s more than half the battle!

Anyway, I closed about 90 days ago, and so far, I don’t want to sell it and move back to my condo…lbks. 

In no particular order, here are MY top 8 lessons worthy of sharing when you’re on your new (new-to-you) home journey. 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

Download our Ultimate financial resource guide to get started on finding the right resources to work on your financial game plan or share this with someone who may need it.

 

 

 
 

 

1. Acknowledge the fears & then shut the front door on them

The fears are going to show up on your doorstep, ring the bell, and wait patiently for you to decide what to do.

You’re going to send them away and they’ll be back again.

Rude, right!

Regardless, they are just doing their job, which means we have to do ours.

Send the fears away over and over again, I don’t care how many times they come back.

During my “WTF was I thinking” moments, thankfully I had people I trusted to talk me off the ledge and here we are.

Give your family & friends permission to help you send the fears away during this journey.

 

2. Invest in an interior designer for your new home

Listen, I know my favorite colors. You probably do, too!

I know my design style. I’m a transitional girl – which is a mix between traditional and modern.

I definitely knew my budget. (duh… lol)

But, bringing it all together is a totally different story!

Therefore I knew I couldn’t afford NOT to hire help in this area.

I researched house photos on Pinterest, HOUZZ, and Instagram.

I don’t fully understand concepts around design, mixing patterns, colors, and textures, and I tend to be a bit of a scary cat trying new design things.

Considering my favorite colors are black, gray, and navy blue 🤣🤣  I figured I needed help, STAT.

But wait… First, let me start off by being completely honest with you.

I had NO idea how much it cost to hire an interior designer.

I did what my “Type A self” normally does and learned very quickly.

To my surprise, I learned that interior designers can cost you as little as a couple of thousand dollars, or as much as $10,000 in just fees, depending on the size and scope of your project.

So nope, it’s not cheap, it’s definitely an investment, however, many have flexible packages and you don’t have to hire them to design the entire house (see our next blog post).

I think it’s worth it to at least consult with the designers because today a lot of it is virtual, and you can even get renderings, mood boards, and have virtual design sessions.

There are even some that will design just one room!

Syfrin Interior Design is a great example – they offer a 5 Step Guide to help you turn your master bedroom into your personal sanctuary! I truly believe women deserve to have this, especially when you have kids that take over the rest of the house! (Future blog post coming about this concept)

Personally, I had the pleasure of working with McCall at Interiors by McCall for my master bedroom, bonus room, great room, and master bathroom in my new home.

McCall lived in Spain at the time, and was AMAZING to work with virtually! She was great at incorporating my existing furniture into the new home, which helped me SAVE money. Look her up on Instagram or her website!

My “Master Bedroom” design by Interiors by McCall

My “Dining area” design by Interiors by McCall

My conclusion: They can be worth their weight in gold, especially if they’re experienced and align with your sense of style!!

 

3. Be strategic with your upgrades

 

Structural, electrical, and plumbing upgrades can be totally worth it.

I made a lot of decisions around the layout of the house that I just did not want to give up on, and I knew “doing it later” would be as expensive, if not more.

I upgraded outlets, canned lights, insulation material, and even showerheads and faucets (partially at the suggestion of interior designers)!

I even strongly considered not adding an outside irrigation system.

And then I thought again when I pictured myself manually moving around the sprinkler 10 times a day to keep the new sod from dying!

Foolish!

I don’t have ACRES but my thumb is brown for a reason… lol.

And some of this may sound silly or frivolous to you, but the peace of mind that I have from making those upgrades was totally worth it, especially as a single woman.

Why?

Because my house is not my life or my idea of a hobby. I want to entertain in it, find peace in it, and be comfortable. I’d rather not think of it as a part-time job or the project of minimalism for the next 10 years!

If you disagree, cool. I respect your superpowers and/or your budget!

However, I’m happy I made the choice to do a lot of the upgrades on the front end.

When it’s your turn and you’re considering an upgrade, ask yourself, “Will it cost me more to do it later?” “Will I ACTUALLY do it later?”

 

4. You Truly Save Money When You’re Organized

 

There’s a LOT of follow-ups with new construction or major home renovations.

A nauseating amount, actually.

While you may have most things in writing, it’s normal to have verbal conversations about plans, intentions, or changes.

Unfortunately, some of those details are either just genuinely forgotten about, or lost in translation.

If you’re organized and have a very strong sense of what you want, what it should look like, and where things should go, you can spot errors quickly and alert someone before it’s too late or expensive to change.

Google Drives, follow-up emails, or spreadsheets are your friends. It will keep you from going crazy during the process and likely save you money and time!

 

5. Don’t freak out (too much)

 

Speaking of going crazy…

That takes me to my next lesson.

I had a bit of a freak out/meltdown moment.

Actually, it wasn’t a small moment, it was HUGE!

Apparently, when a house is being framed, be aware that it may look much smaller than you thought it would.

MUCH smaller!!

So once my house was framed, I walked through, took a look around, and I was FREAKING OUT!

Maybe it’s an optical illusion or maybe your eyes can’t really grasp the scale of the home, but it looked super tiny. It looked so small, I didn’t even want the house anymore.

Crazy, I know.

Now that it’s finished, I feel much better, but I actually looked it up and learned that it’s a real thing, not just a Nikki thing.

There were other things that freaked me out too, but ultimately I either spoke up or decided I could live with “it”.

 

6. Paint is still a lifesaver

 

You can paint almost anything.

Obvious, I know, but I think I forgot about this.

If there was an award for the least handy person on the planet – I’d win it!

I had existing furniture that functionally could be used again, but it was the wrong color.

My son and I had an interesting time spray painting & painting lots of stuff, just to try it out. I have to admit it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I didn’t have to spend any money on new pieces, and if I ended up hating the new color, then my loss would just be a few dollars and a little bit of time.

So before you throw something away, maybe ask yourself, can it be painted or spray painted?

I know I literally saved THOUSANDS doing this.

 

7. Build your home maintenance team EARLY

 

Do the research to find a great handyman, a great electrician, a plumber, and a carpenter, and make them a part of your team for your house ASAP.

I can promise you, whether it’s a brand new house or a 50-year-old classic, you’re going to need them – probably sooner than you think.

Generally, when you’re building a new home, most of the items in the home are under warranty for about 6 to 12 months, give or take, however, there’s still going to be things that go wrong.

TRUST ME!

Use Yelp, Angie’s list, or sites like handy.com. Ask friends for referrals. Ask some of the builder’s subcontractors: usually they know people or can recommend quality workers to find someone who you can trust and who won’t take advantage of you.

Sometimes it comes down to budget or a desire to DIY, but if you are anything like me, you will save a lot of time and frustrations by hiring out.

 

8. Split up your move into your new home

 

Our move was unique and it was done in three different stages, because we had boxes & furniture in multiple places.

However, if you can move in before you actually “move-in”, I highly recommend it.

Move #1 – things that could go over in my car or a small UHaul that I rented. These are items that either I didn’t want to risk putting on the truck or would make the big move longer.

Move #2 – Almost all the boxes.

Move #3 – Big furniture and remaining boxes.

I cannot tell you how helpful it was with the help of family, friends, and even a professional organizer to get my house practically unpacked – or, at least, in their proper room before we physically moved in and started sleeping in the home.

Tanya Thomas at Everything Has Its Place was a Godsend. Her team had my pantry, cabinets, office, and other areas organized BEFORE we even moved in. Plus, she’s a professional stager, which is a fantastic combination in an organizer!

A few people thought it was crazy to do so many moves, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made because it made the transition into the house much more seamless.

So 60 days later, we had one room left to decorate, but everything else was basically done.

Living out of boxes just aint my thing, but I realized that’s a “nice to have” situation, HOWEVER it is doable.

Professional organizers can range from $50- $125 an hour and you might be able to book someone for as little as 2 hours. If you need someone to just support your efforts and not be certified, then you might be able to find someone for as little as $25 an hour.

I get it – cost is relative.

Either way, please, please, plan accordingly, so you can get settled into your home as quickly as you’d like.

 

The Financial Tips

 

I hope you got something useful out of the lessons and tips above.

My FIIRM Hero community received the audio version of this newsletter plus 2 extra tips – related to the financial side. Join the FIIRM Hero Community to gain financial tips, resources, and information helpful to hard-working women like you.

Grab your copy of the Ultimate Financial Resource Guide and get access to financial tips, divorce information (only if needed), and other resources!

 

 

 

 
Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst ®, and the primary divorce financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners prepare for divorce to avoid common financial mistakes and confidently maintain their financial security. She uses proven strategies within the FIIRM Approach methodology so her clients can manage their money, debt, and credit in their new financial life. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE Ultimate Resource Guide HERE. 

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