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The Stages of Financial Recovery

The Stages of Financial Recovery – When I look at what to write about regarding financial abuse, I break it down into four categories.  What I’ve come to realize in writing about these four different topics is that they could be classified as stages of recovery.

The way I see financial abuse recovery is there are two periods and two types of financial savvy you need to have to recover.

First, the two periods are the before-you-leave, and the after-you’ve-left.  Because financial abuse is something that is perpetuated by one person onto another, you are automatically in a relationship with one another.  This doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship as I’ve heard of cases where parents financially abuse their children.  And senior citizens are often the subject of financial abuse from caregivers or adult children. 

My focus is on women who have been financially abused in romantic relationships. Therefore, I classify the before and after stages in context to when you leave the partnership with your abuser.

Second, there are two types of financial savvy you need to recover: mindset and skill set.

Mindset is exactly that. Do you believe in your own financial abilities? Do you see yourself as competent and capable of handling financial matters?

Skill set is about the nuts and bolts of managing your money. How do you keep track of your money?  Can you balance a checkbook? Can you follow a budget?

The Stages of Financial Recovery
The Stages of Financial Recovery
These two types of financial savvy are different when you are in the before-you-leave stage than they are in the after-you’ve left stage.

Therefore, it’s like a grid:

Mindset / Before-you-leaveSkill set / Before-you-leave
Mindset/ After-you’ve-leftSkill set / After-you’ve-left

In each category, you can be strong, or you can still be learning.  Until you are strong in both financial mindset and financial skill set, it will be hard to leave.  You need to grow your strength in both areas in order to feel confident enough to handle yourself financially.  Leaving means going it alone if you will.  That can be daunting.  Especially if you’ve never done it alone before or if you now have children to care for.  

It’s extremely important to build your financial savvy, both mindset and skill set, while you are still in the relationship so that you have the confidence you will need to make it on your own.

Once you’ve left the relationship, then your mindset and skill set are primed to grow again.  This time, you will embark on a whole new outlook about your ability to earn, spend, and save your money.  It’s amazing to me how much there is to learn about money management.  Just because you’ve left a financially abusive relationship and are now on your own doesn’t mean you stop growing.  Your financial savvy, both mindset and skill set, will continue to grow.

The mindset and skill set stages do not necessarily flow in a particular order. But generally when you are in the before-you-leave stage, your mindset and skill set are low.  To leave, you need to raise them both. You may be stronger in one than in the other or you may struggle more to increase one.

Same goes for the after-you’ve left stage.  You may have a great financial savvy mindset and be full of confidence regarding handling your own money, but you may have a low skill set in how to handle it.  Or, vice-versa.

How you move through the various stages will be your own unique journey.

Some women will be more naturally talented at the nuts and bolts required for a strong skill set but have little confidence in their own money.  Others will build their mindset faster and struggle more with their skill set.  There is no right or wrong to how you move through the stages.  The goal is to build your mindset and your skill set while you’re in the before-you-leave stage so that you can become strong enough and confident enough to leave.

Once you’ve moved to the after-you’ve-left stage, then you continue to build both your mindset and your skill set.  

I honestly don’t think you ever arrive; I believe it is a continuing journey.

Even for myself, years after my divorce, I find I’m still increasing my financial savvy, both my mindset and my skill set.  Continuous growth will sustain the momentum of improving your financial life forever.

Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (https://strongwomenthriving.com/), a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a new book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at hello@strongwomenthriving.com. Join our FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/womensurivingfinancialabuse

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