Financial advice for newly single adults

Q: What are some of the most important financial concerns for a newly single adult with kids?

Jim: There are three vital questions you need to ask yourself: 1) What do I need to do and when? 2) How can I meet my needs and my children’s needs? 3) Most importantly, whom can I trust as an adviser?

Insecurity over their budgetary situation often leads newly single adults to make major financial changes much too quickly. So if you are widowed or divorced, I recommend you choose a personal adviser who you can trust to have your best interests at heart. Not necessarily a professional financial expert; what you need most at this point is not technical information, but wisdom and sound judgment. You can find someone to help with money management later on.

This doesn’t have to be a family member or friend. What you’re really looking for right now is somebody with wisdom and experience. It’s possible that another widowed or divorced individual might turn out to be the best candidate for the job. If nothing else, they may be in a position to direct you to other helpers. You might also ask your pastor for recommendations. And it could be a good idea to engage the services of more than one personal adviser.

Whatever you do, bear in mind that you’re still the decision maker. You can’t abdicate that responsibility — ultimately, it’s up to you to sift out bad advice from the good. So seek out the best counsel you can find.

A final note: whether a person loses a spouse through divorce or death, grief can impair one’s ability to make prudent decisions, especially within the first year following the loss. So when possible, defer major decisions for the first 12 months or so.

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Q: I’m not sure how this has happened, but after 22 years of marriage my wife and I are … well, bored. We still love each other and are committed to the relationship, but now that our son is in college, most evenings we just sit and stare at the television. Is this the way it goes for everyone?

Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: Here’s an analogy: Think back a week or so to that huge Thanksgiving dinner you may have enjoyed. When you first pull that bird out of the oven, and the table is set with stuffing, gravy and pumpkin pie, you feel like you could eat it all. By evening, you’ve already made your first turkey sandwich and had seconds of everything else.

But fast-forward a few days. There’s still a lot of food left, but you’re losing interest, and the Tupperware starts getting pushed farther and farther toward the back of the fridge.

Marriage can be a lot like that. Right after the wedding, couples usually can’t wait to spend all of their free time together. But sooner or later, life settles into a routine, and you’re left with leftovers. The passion and excitement are replaced by the same ol’ same ol’. From there, the relationship gets pushed farther and farther into the background of life and, sometimes, perhaps thrown out altogether.

The answer is to take action in your marriage. Don’t let it slip further into the doldrums. Date your wife. Do something outside your normal, everyday routine to revive the freshness your relationship once had. New hobbies, service projects, education — do things together. I might humbly suggest my book, “Take the Date Night Challenge.” But you can also find plenty of ideas to help your marriage thrive at FocusOnTheFamily.com.

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Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.