The Kenwood Press
: 02/01/2015

Women on their own

Donna Colfer

Lately, it seems as if I’m seeing more and more clients who are divorced or widowed women. Their husbands were the breadwinners and managed their financial affairs; this has left them feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and frightened of the newly acquired role of being on their own. Even when there’s enough money, a financially dependent woman managing money on her own for the first time can feel lost. It’s hard to trust in your own capabilities when you’re new at the job. This is the archetype of the Innocent.

What I also see happening with women learning how to be on their own financially is impulsive spending (the archetype of the Fool). This kind of behavior seemingly softens and masks their feelings of sorrow and pain as they accustom themselves to living in a new reality. “I’m alone now” characterizes the feeling, “and I don’t know what to do next.”

If this resonates with you or someone you know, here’s some guidance:

Ask for help sooner rather than later. You don’t have to work out your financial situation on your own. Try not to be embarrassed or ashamed to ask for the help you need. Yes, it may feel difficult at first but as soon as you have support, you’ll feel relief. Help can come in the form of a professional, a family member, or a friend or colleague you trust.

Breathe. Find ways to relax your nervous system. Exercise, go for walks, garden, take yoga, meditate or pray. These activities will ground your energy so you can focus on what needs to be done. You’re about to engage in a new learning curve, and you’ll need your body and mind to respond, not react.

Know yourself. Understand why you procrastinate or stay in denial around your money situation. Don’t think of yourself as “wrong” for your lack of knowledge or experience. Instead, feel compassion for yourself and your new situation. You may not be able to do this one by yourself, but you can hire a money coach or perhaps a therapist… or both. Knowing you have expertise on hand for unprecedented emotions and situations will reduce your stress level enormously. This new understanding will contribute greatly to your willingness to shift your behaviors. And take my complimentary Money Type Quiz for starters. See below.

Create a monthly cash flow statement. Calculate the monthly income and expenses for your household and discover whether there’s anything left over. If you have a business, create a cash flow statement for that as well. This is where many women need help. This is not difficult to do but it’s time consuming because it requires close and consistent attention to the details. Once this is done, you’re on your way to becoming more empowered simply because now you know the truth of your financial situation. This information empowers you with the facts to make better decisions. Without this factual piece of data, it’s difficult to determine what’s in your best interest. If you’re going to spend money “to help yourself feel better,” start by filling in your gaps in experience with advice. Don’t allow yourself to make purchases that might feel immediately comforting but can devastate your cash flow.

Hold yourself accountable. If you take all of the steps above, you’ll undoubtedly feel more relaxed, confident, and in control. You’re almost there. Now you need someone you trust to hold you accountable for the new patterns and behaviors you’ve committed to maintaining. Change doesn’t usually happen overnight. Especially if you’ve been a procrastinator or in denial around money for 30 or more years. But change is possible. I see women change their relationship with money all the time because they finally have guidance and assistance for the first time. Choose a trusted friend, family member, or coach/counselor who genuinely has the time and interest to hold you accountable so you reach your goals of independence and experience.

Remember to take small steps in the beginning to avoid feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Just do one thing at a time… slowly. That will lead to completion of another task and then another. Lighten up. Try not to take yourself too seriously; forgive yourself for making a mistake or not doing it perfectly. No one’s perfect. If you find yourself feeling stuck, pick up the phone or send an email and ask for help; again, sooner rather than later. Some situations are more difficult than others – and you may not like your choices – but there’s always a solution. Nothing is too big to resolve.

Learn more about your relationship with money: visit and take the complimentary “Money Type Quiz.” Only you see the results. Or contact me at