Financial empowerment post-divorce: One woman’s story

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A life-changing event of any kind—like losing a job or starting a family—can certainly take a toll on anyone’s financial stability. Just ask Joncey Lee, an Operation HOPE financial wellbeing coach and mother of two who had to start managing all of her finances after going through a divorce. With over 20 years of career experience in banking, Joncey had to start practicing what she preached to find ways to turn her financial stress into confidence.

From Dependent to Independent

During her 17 years of marriage, Joncey didn’t play a large role in managing her personal finances—she left that job to her husband. But when the couple decided a divorce would ultimately improve each of their lives, Joncey quickly fell into a deep hole of financial stress.

Joncey knew from her experience in the financial industry that she first had to reach short-term goals in order to achieve long-term ones. She focused solely on the shorter ones first—like leasing an apartment for a couple months and telling her younger son “no” more often—without letting the daunting thoughts of her long-term goals come to mind. “Setting financial goals that were both realistic and short term helped me from feeling discouraged and falling back into old habits,” Joncey says. 

Three Money Mindset Hacks

After facing this financial struggle head-on, Joncey now has a newfound commitment to helping her clients thrive by steering them away from destructive behaviors. She has even created three “Money Mindset Hacks” for success:

  1. Pay yourself first! Savings are #1: Deposit a small amount of your check into your savings account every payday. Even $10 per period counts as something and will help this regular behavior transition into a habit.
  1. Get empowered by your budget: Think of your budget as your treasure chest. Each month, take a look at your “treasure chest” and find ways to save, like going to the movies on Tuesdays when tickets and concessions are often discounted.
  1. Cash is king: Set a budget for controllable expenses and put cash aside for each in a physical envelope. “If your dining-out envelope winds up empty, then no more cash can be spent at restaurants for the remainder of the month,” she suggests. 

Find the Good in Every Setback

Despite facing a difficult journey, Joncey did experience a silver lining: an unbreakable bond with her younger son who experienced this journey with her when the older was away at college. She took advantage of the stressful times as an opportunity to educate him on budgeting, setting goals and saving. As a result, her son, now 15, “plans to buy his first car soon with his savings,” Joncey says.

Since beginning the fight to overcome these financial stressors, Joncey has achieved one of her long-term goals as a single mother: buying her own home. In fact, Joncey is now saving up and budgeting so she is able to update this home with brand new paint, flooring and bathroom vanities. “I am currently supplementing my income as a mobile notary,” she reports. “It is imperative for me to achieve my renovation goals by spring.” 

Joncey’s story proves there is always a path to financial confidence out of any tough situation. Armed with her own lessons learned, she is now more committed than ever to identifying potentially detrimental behaviors in her clients and helping them craft a fresh narrative with new money rules.

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