Leslie Tayne opens up to Brad and Jonathan about her journey as a single parent, financial problems in her first marriage, and how to move forward from debt.
Leslie’s money story starts in her childhood. In her parents’ marriage, her father controlled the money. So naturally, when Leslie got married she fell into a similar pattern.
Leslie married her husband at age 24. Since he was older, he took over the finances and that was perfectly fine with Leslie. She did not question where the money was going and chose not to ask questions along the way. Her contribution to the management of their finances included dropping off her receipts into a box in his office.
All of the financial accounts were password-protected, so she couldn’t check on the situation even if she had wanted to.
He said he was taking care of the finances, which included making payments on her student loans. However, as the relationship started to deteriorate, she started to get suspicious. Mail started coming to the house about her student loans which tipped her off to the fact that he wasn’t making the payments. Not only was he making late payments, but also turning in paperwork with the wrong information.
At this point, she felt that she was not in a position to do anything about it. She was earning less money than him even though she worked a full-time job. Plus she had three kids within a few years, so her hands were full. She felts she didn’t have time to deal with the situation.
What To Do In This Situation
Looking back, Leslie feels like she could have found a way out of the situation sooner. However, because she didn’t know any other way of life, she thought it was just normal. When you are working and taking care of young children, there seems to be too much going on to make time for money discussions with an uncommunicative spouse.
If you find yourself in this situation, Leslie recommends finding the time to understand what is happening in your household. When you find yourself dealing with a difficult and controlling person, it can be uncomfortable to uncover the finances. But it has to be done.
You know, when you have little kids and you’re working, life is so fast and so crazy! You barely have time even for yourself or your relationship and then to sit down and want to have a conversation about money, I’m not even sure back then when I would have fit that in but I would say you have to…You have to find the time whether its ten o’clock at night or three o’clock in the morning when you are feeding the babies. You have to find the time to understand the finances of the household.
If you are having trouble getting your spouse to open up, then suggest therapy. Leslie did suggest therapy and her ex-husband told her that she was the one with the problems. So, she did go to therapy by herself and it was the beginning of the end of their marriage.
After deciding that she was ready to end her relationship with her controlling husband, Leslie started to move forward. Breaking free from this financially abusive situation was not easy, but it was worth it. In her opinion, divorce was the best course of action for her situation.
The finances of divorce can be messy. It was still difficult to disentangle the finances of their marriage. She got full custody of her three kids and he did not pay her alimony. He made the process very difficult until she offered a buyout on some of their shared assets. Once she offered the buyout, the rest of the process got easier.
My goal was to create a career that would sustain me, that would take me, certainly long past [when] my children were around but that would also allow me freedom and independence and the opportunity to support myself and my children on my own. The most important goal that I had when my children were little was finding a way to make sure I could pay for their needs.
Once the divorce was finalized, Leslie was able to move forward with her kids. Her career was taking off and she was able to support her growing family.
Listen: Poverty, Divorce, And FI By 43 With Bonnie Truax
Financial independence in the sense that you can support yourself without assistance is critical. Whatever your age and gender, it is crucial to safeguard your future by taking care of yourself financially.
What I really want to stress is financial independence, and that goes for men, women, it doesn’t really matter your gender, your age, anything. Once you become financially dependent on another human being, you place yourself in a compromising position.
Even if you are in a great relationship, that person could pass away or become disabled. If you aren’t in a supportive relationship, a controlling spouse could wreak havoc on your financial future. If you need to leave a relationship, it is extremely difficult to do so without any money.
Dealing With Debt
Although they say ignorance is bliss, it only makes the problem worse. When the debt piles up, you might start to feel like everything is out of control. As you struggle to keep this secret from your family and friends in search of a magic solution, the problem continues to grow.
It doesn’t matter what your income is, debt problems can happen at any level. When you start to feel overwhelmed, it is time to stop and take a step back. Admit that you have a problem so that you can give yourself permission to find the solution. Stop, take a breath and write down everything that is going on.
It’s time to stop. Take a step back, and just take a breath. And say “I have a problem, and I need to figure out what the problem is so I can find the right solution.” There are solutions out there and there are people you can trust.
Start by reaching out to a friend that has struggled with debt. Do some research before you make phone calls to professionals such as lawyers and financial planners. Don’t assume that the first thing that comes in the mail will be the answer to your problems. You need to talk to someone that can understand the broad range of options that would be available to you.
Dating And Finances
When Leslie started dating again, she made sure to bring up the topic of finances early on. Of course, this is not a first date topic but it is something important to discuss.
The first thing to do is be a good listener. People will tell you a lot about their finances without even realizing, even through body language and tone of voice.
Here are some things to listen for:
- Why didn’t their last relationship work out?
- Do they own a house or rent an apartment?
- What do they do with their spare time?
- Are they still complaining about money?
- Are they willing to pick up the check?
- What are their spending habits?
- How do they handle themselves at the table?
- Are they cheap with their ex?
It is important to ask questions and listen to answers. Have an idea of what you are looking for. Leslie knew that she wanted someone well past the divorce stage that was not financially strapped. She wanted them to be able to enjoy their lifestyle together.
If your spending and saving habits don’t align, that is cause for concern. Would you be able to watch someone recklessly spend their money if you were to get married? Money issues are the number one relationship killer. Make sure that you are on the same page.
Balancing A Career With Single Parenting
Leslie built her practice from the ground up while raising three children. She compares it balancing to a teeter-totter. If you are a working single parent with a career to build, there is no exact balance. Some days her family suffered, other days her business suffered. It is hard to feel like you are excelling at both.
One thing she did to maintain balance was by keeping her home and office closeby. She did the best she could to be there for her kids and support them in every way she could, especially financially. Of course, she missed some events but was very happy to have them and raise them in her household.
Kids And Finances
Now that her kids have gone off to college, she realizes the money lessons she taught them are shining through.
While they were growing up in her household, nothing was automatic. If they wanted money for something, they had to talk to her. Together they would determine the amount that they could have. Plus, there were rewards based on grades.
FInances And Kid’s Sports
Each of her kids played a sport. Over the years, Leslie has supported her son’s soccer career with expensive equipment and extensive time commitments. In fact, he almost got a college scholarship but he hurt his hip in his junior year and missed his chance. In her work with her clients, she sees this all too often.
Parents put a lot of money and energy into their children’s sports careers because they have talent. However, few make it to the big leagues and leave their parents in tremendous debt.
Instead of spending money on sports, consider spending that money on education.
If you have limited funds, you need to make a decision on what is going to be the most impactful. And sometimes you have to say “no.” And sometimes you have to say “Because the odds are truthfully against that, I don’t have the funds to invest.”
Related: How To Budget For Extracurricular Activities For Kids
How To Connect
Leslie is a financial services attorney that helps people manage their financial situation. If you find yourself in an overwhelming amount of debt, then you might need to contact Leslie. She knows debt and finances like the back of her hand which can help you get out of sticky situations. The opportunity to talk to her is free to find out whether or not she can help.
If you feel like you are out of options, then she might be able to step in to help. However, you are better off coming to her for help before you reach the end of your rope. When you start to feel the pinch of your finances, it might be time to start thinking about reaching out.
Leslie’s practice, Tayne Law, has offices in New York and Florida, but she is able to work with clients in most states.
You can connect with Leslie personally on Twitter @lesliehtayneesq or through Linkedin. You can connect with her law practice on Twitter @taynelawgroup, on Instagram @taynelawgroup, or on Facebook @Tayne Law Group
Listen to the Friday Roundup of this episode here.
New to FI? Be sure to check out Episode 100: Welcome To The FI Community!