In this episode of The Agent of Wealth Podcast, host Marc Bautis is joined by Patti Handy, a Certified Life Coach, Certified Executive Coach, published author of four books, and the brains behind Minding Her Money, a roadmap and training for divorced, widowed and single women to quickly improve financial confidence.
In this episode, you will learn:
- What Patti Handy’s divorce journey was like, and how it led her to coaching other divorcees.
- The steps a divorced woman should take when it comes to their money.
- Common mistakes women make when it comes to managing money.
- How to filter through competing financial advice and get the proper help.
- And more!
Disclosure: The transcript below has been lightly edited for clarity and content. It is not a direct transcription of the full conversation, which can be listened to above.
Welcome back to The Agent of Wealth Podcast, this is your host Marc Bautis. On today’s show, I brought on a special guest, Patti Handy. Patti is a former Wealth Advisor and Mortgage Advisor, turned Financial Coach, with a passion for serving women. Having gone through a divorce herself, she has first-hand knowledge of the struggles, fears and emotions that come with the experience.
Partti is a Certified Life Coach, Certified Executive Coach, published author of four books, and the brains behind Minding Her Money, a roadmap and training for divorced, widowed and single women to quickly improve financial confidence
Patti, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much, Marc. I’m happy to be here.
Patti Handy’s Divorce Journey
What was your divorce journey? How did you go from a divorced, single mom to mastering your money?
Well, it wasn’t an easy, linear road. In fact, it was a bumpy one… especially early on. I was divorced when my son was 18 months old, so there was a lot of emotional turmoil. I wasn’t in a place in my mind to make great decisions – I was trying to just stay afloat, while focusing on my son.
Luckily, I actually came from a family where my parents taught me about money, so I was financially confident. In the marriage, I was the one who managed and invested the money. During the divorce, I remember there was a point in time when – despite being emotionally distraught – I thought to myself, “You know what? I’m going to be okay. I know how to take care of my son and I know how to manage money.”
I also remember having the thought that I wanted to somehow, someday, take this experience and turn this around to help others.
That was many years ago… I spent the next 20 or so years making a living, raising my son, and building back my life. I went into the mortgage business for many years, and then became a financial planner. At times, it was still a bumpy road. Even with a formal education and life experience, I made mistakes. But those bad decisions taught me how to be a better teacher and coach. Now, it’s become a passion of mine to help women through this.
That’s great. You mentioned that in your previous marriage, you were the one managing the money. As a financial advisor, many of the couples I work with delegate one person to do the money management. Do you recommend that, or do you think the responsibility should be split?
I think finances should be a mutual responsibility, because God forbid something happens to one of the spouses. Aside from a divorce, a spouse could unexpectedly pass away and the other spouse could be left not knowing anything. I’ve worked with people who didn’t know where accounts were, how their money was invested… I’ve even helped some individuals who didn’t know how to write a check.
I encourage couples to have what I call money dates: Go out, have dinner, and talk about the family finances. You don’t have to make a big effort, it’s more about being comfortable having finance-related conversations.
Yeah, I like that concept of doing a money date. Now, what are some steps a divorced woman should take, when it comes to their money?
Short-Term Steps a Divorced Women Should Take
Well, there’s a lot to unpack.
First, there’s an emotional piece, because you are dealing with the grief of losing a relationship and the life that you had planned. If you have kids, that’s another large component. And, of course, there’s the financial piece. A slew of questions come up, like:
- How will the property be divided?
- How will the assets be divided?
- How will child custody be determined?
I mean, there’s so many pieces to unpack…
First and foremost, the best-case-scenario is for the two individuals to remain as friendly as possible so they can focus on what’s best for the kids (if there are kids involved). It’s already going to be hard for a child to watch their parents separate, so it’s important to consider them from an emotional standpoint. As a mom, I can certainly speak to that.
From a financial perspective, it’s important that you know your property, assets, debts and investments, as well as where everything is. I recommend listing everything out in Excel. This is really the starting point for many.
If you and your ex-spouse are in a place to do so, it is ideal to deal with a mediator. My ex-husband and I were able to… We agreed upon the division of assets and debts, and saved monies in the process by not having to use a divorce attorney. Believe me, divorce attorneys are wonderful, and I encourage them. I’m just saying that in our case, we decided to use a mediator.
No matter the case, it’s important that you understand where you’re starting from. Obviously, there are various different scenarios that could occur, but try to stay as unemotional as you can when you’re looking at your finances.
Once the divorce is final and assets are split, what is the recommendation there? Especially if the divorcee isn’t used to managing money. How does a woman piece together a plan to get moving in the right direction?
Well, you said the perfect word there, put together a plan. That is really what you have to do.
At the time of my divorce, I had left corporate banking to be at home with my son. So I was unemployed when I got divorced, and I had to figure out a way to get back into the workforce.
I went into a commission-based position and worked from home. Those things allowed me to have some flexibility. So make that plan.
Because divorce is just so overwhelming in the early stages, I recommend you keep your focus on the short-term – don’t think about 10 years from now, 20 years from now – just look at what you can do today.
So, when you assess your financial situation, ask yourself: ‘What assets do I need today?’ For example, you may need cash for an emergency fund. Make sure you have that.
The same thing goes for your retirement accounts. Depending upon your age and your risk tolerance, you may want to get that money working for you. If you’ve got 20-30+ years to go before you retire, now might be a good time to put your retirement savings into the market.
I’ve seen lots of ladies with pretty substantial portfolios sitting in all cash. That’s just not a great thing. If you’re 30 years out from retirement, you’re actually losing money to inflation.
Also, if you’re in a position to, you could certainly meet with a financial advisor or talk to a financial coach. They will help you get a handle on what you’re doing, and you can gain knowledge in the process.
But be careful who you listen to and who you learn from. Do your due diligence. Don’t jump into anything that you don’t understand. If you’re introduced to a product and you can’t explain it to a fourth grader, then you probably shouldn’t be investing in it. You want to fully understand it yourself.
I know people selling some of these products can have very slick sales pitches. But I like that suggestion you made… If you can’t explain a product or opportunity to a fourth grader, stay away from it. Do you have any other advice for the due diligence piece?
Absolutely. Here are some tips:
- If you’re looking for a financial advisor, find somebody in your circle who is very happy with their financial advisor and get an introduction that way.
- Ideally, you should work with a Fiduciary advisor, which is one that is obligated by law to work in your best interest.
- I recommend working with an advisor that is fee-based, meaning that their fees are based on the assets that they manage versus a commission-based advisor, who gets paid a commission on the products they sell. Those that are fee based simply manage your money and the more money they make for you, the more money they make.
- Look for an advisor that also does tax planning.
I totally agree with all of those recommendations. Earlier, you mentioned to focus on the short term. But, eventually, a divorcee will have to think 10+ years down the road to their long-term goals. When do you see that transition usually occur?
Long-Term Steps a Divorced Women Should Take
The timing will really depend on the individual. In order to get to that point, the divorcee has to be past the emotional devastation and back on their feet. In my experience, it took about six months before I saw through the haze and began thinking long-term.
But, to your point, divorcees will need to begin creating a financial plan and putting their money to work. I just recommend they wait until they’re able to think rationally and make good decisions. Plus, it always helps to have somebody to lean on. Definitely trust your intuition, but having support is always a plus.
Can you talk a bit about your career transition from a wealth advisor and mortgage advisor, to becoming a financial coach for women?
Absolutely. There were many moving parts… Like I mentioned, I knew I wanted to take the experience of my divorce and somehow serve women in this capacity. That’s been on my heart for 20 plus years.
The conversations that I had with women working as a mortgage advisor and then as a financial advisor, the number of conversations I’ve had with women in tears and emotionally distraught, it was very clear to me that there was a lot of embarrassment, overwhelm, shame, fear.
As an advisor, a lot of times there’s an asset minimum. So if an individual couldn’t meet that minimum, we couldn’t give them financial advice. Whenever that happened, I always felt horrible. I’d leave a conversation thinking, ‘Oh gosh, this poor woman needs somebody to help her.’ But I couldn’t do that in my role as a financial advisor.
So I did this pivot, it’s a leap of faith. But I feel this calling and I feel very aligned with what I’m meant to do in life. Plus, all of the education that I had and my own experience have culminated in this place. I know that now is the time.
The Mind Her Money Program
When you engage with someone, do you get involved as the divorce is going on or post-divorce?
Typically, it’s post-divorce. Oftentimes, when the divorce is still happening, there’s still a lot of unknowns with regards to assets.
Typically, coaching is about benchmarking your current situation and stepping into your greatness moving forward. Therapy is more about your situation now, and looking at your past, to help you heal. So, as a financial coach and life coach, I’m focused on today moving forward. That will normally happen post-divorce.
Is the engagement ongoing, or does someone eventually “graduate,” so to speak?
The program that I offer is 90 days. The transformation that women will experience in those 90 days will land them in a place where they have financial confidence and they don’t need me anymore. I don’t want them to need me anymore.
Now, down the road, I might offer another program, host a retreat, organize a VIP day, etc… But at this point, it’s a 90-day program.
In it, we go through these nine areas of life and work through them with group and individual coaching.
What are some of the areas you cover in addition to finances?
We start off with self-care. I know it’s a big word that’s sort of thrown around these days, but it’s about getting back to yourself and getting grounded. Like I said earlier, just getting upright again. We talk about what it is that we do – whether it’s meditation, exercise, eating, friends, family – to get ourselves back on track.
Then we go into our money story and understanding our limiting beliefs around money. There’s such a huge component there that we often overlook because our external current situation is 95% run by our subconscious mind and only 5% run by our conscious mind and the power of the mind. And we go deep into that piece of it, getting organized, getting all your documents and your things in order.
We talk about getting out of debt. We also talk about spending and how to be mindful of some of those habits. Depending upon the woman’s situation, we may discuss ways to bring in more income. We talk about credit.
If they are buying a house or refinancing, I help them with that component. I’ll teach them the lingo and share my knowledge.
That’s a quick overview of the program, Minding Her Money.
As someone goes through the program, is there homework or assignments to complete?
Yes, there is homework associated with each module. You don’t have to turn it in, but it’s really in your best interest to complete it. For example, there’s spending trackers and budget documents for course members to complete. The program also includes two one-on-one conversations with me over the course of the 90 days. In those conversations, we can dive deeper into their personal situation… Whether they need further assistance with credit card debt or managing large assets. Again, it’s very individual.
Makes sense. Well, that just about wraps up today’s episode. Patti, I’d like to thank you for being on The Agent of Wealth Podcast. You gave some great advice for women looking to get back on their feet following a divorce. How best can someone reach out to you and find out more about what you do?
Your listeners can visit my website, pattihandy.com to find the Minding Her Money Program. On that page, you can actually download the roadmap of the program, and then book a call with me. On the call, I’ll have the opportunity to learn about you and your situation and see if the program is a fit for you.
Perfect, we’ll link to those resources in the show notes. Thanks again, Patti. And thank you to everyone who tuned into today’s episode. Don’t forget to follow The Agent of Wealth on the platform you listen from and leave us a review of the show. We are currently accepting new clients, if you’d like to schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with our advisors, please do so below.