In July I had the pleasure of talking to Dr. Duanita Elaniak PHD of the Mentoring Store about mortgage planning for women in transition, going through legal separation and/or divorce. Dr. Duanita has also recorded our conversation as a podcast on her site. If you click the link above, it will take you to the podcast and additional educational information on The Mentoring Store website. Mentoring Store is for business mentoring, life mentoring, peer mentoring by Dr. Duanita Eleniak including books and courses.
I have had the podcast transcribed and posted here:
I’m Doctor Duanita and with me is Karen Boies, an independent mortgage planner who specializes in helping women going through divorce with their mortgage planning needs. Karen’s mission is to help women going through separation and their divorce to achieve their goal of home ownership on their own. Welcome, Karen.
Hi. Thank you so much for having me, Doctor Duanita.
Oh, you’re very welcome. I’m glad you’re here. You know Karen, what are the things that I really do admire about you and your work – is your philosophy on financial empowerment for women and I want to say a quote that I heard you not only say but I’ve seen you write down. This is quoting you, “I believe that when a woman has a solid financial foundation she can more easily make the tough decisions that are right for her and her family as she moves forward into the next stage of her life.” Now Karen, can you tell us how you came to this wisdom? I really love that philosophy. How did you get there? How did you know that?
I know this from personal experience. I grew up in a home where my father was an alcoholic and my parents had five kids and so they struggled. They struggled to raise the kids and provide for us. And when I left home at eighteen years old, I walked out the door and I said that I was done with living in that lifestyle because I knew that my mother certainly had to tolerate a lot of things that maybe she would not have put up with had she had more of a solid financial foundation behind her. And then as time went on, I developed a successful career for myself and then I got married. I didn’t get married until I was thirty-eight years old and I found myself in a relationship unfortunately repeating some of the patterns that I had lived with when I was growing up and so I was thankful that I had learned good money management skills, I had savings, I knew how to take care of myself financially. I had set up our financial home so that he had his own bank account, I had my own bank account and I managed our bank account for our joint family income taking care of paying the bills, the mortgage. What I knew was that I could evaluate the status of my relationship with my husband and know that it wasn’t meeting my needs. And I knew that I can leave because financially I could afford to look after myself. I wasn’t “stuck there” because I had no option – I couldn’t leave because he managed all the money and he, therefore, had all the control in the relationship. I can leave and make the right decisions for me because it wasn’t working, it wasn’t meeting my needs and financially, I can afford to move on and start a new life over for myself and that’s certainly what I did so, I learned it from experience.
Yes. And really, what you’re saying is that women in particular do have unique needs in the area of financial self-care compared to men. Can you elaborate on that? What are the differences for women? What are the unique issues for women in terms of taking care of themselves financially? The one that you come across when you’re working in this field, specifically with women going through divorce.
Certainly, I work with men and women when it comes to mortgage planning but specifically, in working with women going through divorce, if I’m dealing with a couple who don’t have any children then typically there isn’t a significant difference because typically they do maintain their career and continue to work. But the families that I work with, the women that I work with that have made a conscious choice to stay home and raise their children; certainly financially they’re going to have to re-establish their careers. Maybe they begin working part time and they need to ramp it up and work fulltime and that may mean some ongoing education and support. So they’re going to rely heavily on their ex-partner, ex-husband to support them financially. They’re going to rely on that income, make sure that it comes to them so that they can afford to look after their children as well as provide housing. Maybe they put their careers on hold although they may have worked, but they have not done what they needed to do to pursue the career goals that they wanted for themselves and therefore they’re relying on less financial income. Again now that they’re out on their own and they’re having to look after their children, rely on the financial support from their spouse and that financial support, when it comes to qualifying them for mortgage, there’s a variety of lenders out there that I deal with and they have different policies as to how much of that income they’re going to use in qualifying the woman for the mortgage. Of course, economically, I believe that in our society, generally speaking that women are not trained to look after their financial health as well as men are. Within our society, men are supposed to be responsible breadwinners and look after the family and therefore have that financial knowledge. In some homes women just leave it to the man to take care of all that so here they are leaving their home and they haven’t paid attention to what’s going on. Maybe they haven’t had their own credit identity for example – all of the mortgage, the car loan, the credit cards are, all under the husband’s name and they haven’t established their own credit rating, so it’s very difficult in some cases for them to get out there and re-establish themselves financially as well as in the career and starting over in their own home. They need support in all of those areas.
Yes, there are those kinds of unique issues. No doubt about it. Now, I know that you created an information book called Divorcing Your Home 6 Things You Need to Know Before you Sell. And to the benefit of our listeners, could you briefly outline the six things that women going through divorce need to know before selling their home?
Okay. I would love to. So we know that you need to make a decision on whether or not you will stay in the house or your spouse will stay in the house or you need to make a decision on whether or not you’re going to leave the family home and start over and that is going to be a very difficult decision. You’re going to need to evaluate whether or not you can afford to buy out your ex. Again as I said earlier, there are different financial implications to that and so you need to look at whether or not you can afford to buy your spouse out and you maintain the home. You need to make sure that if you’re getting child support, that you maintain official records of that. I’ve had a number of experiences where women are being paid cash by the spouse while they’re going through the separation agreement process and then when it comes time for us to prove that they’re actually getting the ongoing support from the spouse, then they don’t have an official record for it. They need to put themselves in full control of the mortgage payment as soon as possible. If they’re staying in the home, they need to make sure that they take control and ensure that those mortgage payments are being paid on time. Unfortunately, when couples are going through divorce there’s often a fight over the money and that has a negative impact on the credit rating of both parties and so for the women I encourage them, they take control of that and make sure that they’re getting the money and that you’re making sure that the payments are made on time. You need to protect your credit score. Again, your credit score gives you the ability to finance all of your future purchases, not just buying a home but if you want to buy a car, anything – get a credit card, you need to make sure that your cutting up those credit cards that are in joint name so that you’re not held accountable if he doesn’t pay the bills on time and you need to make sure that you’re overall protecting your credit score. And then you need to consider how will you finance your next home. As I talked earlier, different lenders have different policies around looking at child support and tax credit and the other sources of income that you have beside just what you’re doing for work. Those are just some of the areas that you need to look at when making the overall decision around whether or not you’re going to stay in the home or whether or not you’re going to move on and start a new life with your family and you’re new home.
Great. That’s really helpful. If the listeners wanted to get a copy of your book, where would they go to, Karen?
Well, they could email me. Do you want me to give you my email address now or would you add it?
Great. I’ll add it at the end then. Give it to them now as well. Okay. So that’s email@example.com. They can call me at 604 726-9550. They also have the ability to send me a message by accessing my website at karenboies.ca
Okay. And what about your Twitter and Facebook? I know you’re active in social media and that you love that medium. How will they connect with you there, Karen?
Okay. On Facebook, I am mortgagefordivorce.karenboies.
Boies is spelled B-O-I-E-S, right?
Okay. And twitter.com – karenboies, as well.
Now Karen, I really want to thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience with us today. Is there any other words of wisdom that you want to give to women going through divorce who are facing mortgage issues?
Absolutely. I think it’s most important that you get independent advice and yes, I’m a mortgage broker and I’m independent and so I’m going to recommend what best for you, it’s because I believe in it. Because there are so many options that are out there, for an individual that they may not know about. Some people think that they need to rely just on their bank and that their bank will take care of them. I haven’t seen that. I have dealt with women who went direct to their bank and they were discouraged after their meeting with the bank advisor and yet we sat down and evaluated their strategy in some case, they didn’t have one. So I worked with them to ensure that they have an overall strategy and approach and so I highly recommend that you know, call me. If not me then have a friend recommend them to an independent mortgage broker so that they can ensure that they have a strategy and that they’re moving forward from that stance as opposed to simply going on emotion.
Right. I guess it would be important, like because of these issues there are some specific things that mortgage brokers and banks need to know about women going through divorce, about the reality, things like child support, child tax credit, etc. So it’s probably isn’t just going to anyone but somebody who really does know the ins and outs of what qualifies and what doesn’t and what kind of paper you need as verification, etc. It’s probably wise to really go to somebody who specializes in divorce.
Absolutely. I, again, come up with different scenarios all the time because everybody’s financial situation is different and their divorce process is different and hits little glitches along the road. An example was that last fall, I was working with a woman, she had come to me a year in advance and we were going down the passage. She was going to move out of the house and then finally just in a brief conversation that we had, I brought up like, “Have you considered speaking to your parents about them co-signing for you so that you could stay in the house?” Because she had the living in the house and she was making the mortgage payments and she was occasionally getting support from her husband. She was going through the process of getting court order to ensure that he was going to continue to pay. So she went and she spoke to her dad and he was full time employed, their home was free and clear and he was more than happy to co-sign for her. She really wanted to stay in the home that’s where the children had grown up, that’s where they have gone out for school, they were doing their sports activities, her job was just down the street, she could walk to it. Her whole community was there. She had good valid reasons why she wanted to stay there. But she was going down the path of eventually going to have sell the house and move on and she was dealing with me to get qualified for mortgage to buy something new, she was going to take the equity when they sell the home. In the end, mom and dad co-signed for the loan and as long as she can continue to make payments for one year without any problems, then the bank will release her parents as co-signers. At the end of the day, she was so happy with that outcome.
Wow. Great. Great. That’s the great thing about people working with you. You’ve seen so many people go down that path that you know all the various options that sometimes you could just point out something that would be obvious but not obvious to somebody who’s in the situation.
Exactly. And again, if you just walked into the bank, tell them your direct story, I think they don’t really have a vested interest in looking at what all the possible options are, things for you to consider. There are times that people just call me, women call me, we have a conversation, review all the different options. At the end of the day, they now have a strategy that they can work with and that they can take that into consideration when they are going through the negotiations in advance. We sit down, we look at it and we say if this scenario worked, that you get what you think you’re going to get at the end of the day when it comes to ongoing financial support for example from your ex-husband, for child support say for alimony support, we can look at it, we can say this is what you’re going to qualify for a mortgage, can you realistically see yourself continuing to make that size of a mortgage payment? Is that the lifestyle you envision for yourself? And if that works for the woman, great! If not, then we can develop a strategy that says, look, I know you want to stay in the house but at the end of the day when you look at what your overall goals and dreams and hopes of your brand new life as a single woman again, you know, you might be better off to downsize . Buy yourself a townhouse and move there. Continue and create a brand new life for yourself and this one will allow you to make the mortgage payments and give you the opportunity to pursue those other things. I’ll be honest, I do look at and try to establish a relationship with these women to inspire them to look beyond what’s happening for them right now. Maybe they didn’t make the decision to end the divorce, maybe their partner did and they’re not really happy about it. But I try to encourage and inspire them to look beyond it and look at some of the other things that they want to achieve for themselves. And again, taking the full financial picture and putting it into that perspective.
Yes, because your job will be so much more than just simply the numbers and finding ways to help them because in this situation, first of all you’re probably dealing with people where there’s tons of emotions running through; grief, shock, loss as well as guiding them through to help them see through all of that immediate emotions to what is it that they do want in their new life, to make that start with a new home on a path that can connect with that vision.
Absolutely, I’m dealing with the woman right now who’s going through divorce from her husband, she’s found out that he was doing cocaine. She’s been working hard for the last four years in her career was making money and it seems like he never ever had any money. She was giving him money all the time and had no idea of what was going on. Eventually, she found out that he was doing cocaine and so the relationship ended and now they’re going through the divorce process and figuring out who gets which home. They own two homes together and there are moments when her and I have conversation where it’s really clear that she’s angry and this is about winning and honestly I do try to come back to the original conversation that we had and remind her what she talked about that there were so many things that she dreamed of doing in her life that she was not doing it in her marriage under those circumstances and reminding her that she can fight about this and the lawyers will end up with the money and so at the end she’ll win and she’ll lose and is that what she really wants for her future. And she thanked me for bringing her back down and reminding her that while she’s going through an emotional process right now, finances, money is involved and hasn’t she already given him enough of her money? Isn’t it time to just work this out and be clear on what her goals are, what her strategy is, what does she want to achieve and move forward and stop fighting the battles about – yes, there is a battle, there is anger, there is pain but deal with it and don’t keep throwing all the money at the lawyer. Leave some for her so she can move forward and do that goal, that dream that she wanted.
Go ahead. It’s all about that solid financial plan and then move forward and make those decisions that help them achieve their goals, their dreams that they sat at home and thought that what they really wanted for themselves or in that time when they’re just sitting alone, what do they want? What kind of life did they want? It’s an opportunity to learn from this experience and move forward and make it better for themselves. I try to encourage them to do that.
Well Karen, you have to be part mortgage broker, part guide. Really serious lifestyle just helping them to stay on track and taking the high road so that they can go through it as smoothly and easily as possible towards their goals to a better life. Really.
Absolutely! Inspiring them just like I would my friends.
Yes, just like you would your girlfriends.
Exactly. Just as I would with my girlfriends.
So, Karen Boies, thank you so much for sharing with us today and inspiring all of our listeners who might be going through a tough time right now to know that there is help out there and that there are people out there specializing to help you make choices around mortgage and home that can really put you on path to a higher vision and to your new life as a single woman. Thank you very much Karen for being with us today.
Thank you so much for the opportunity. I love having the opportunity to share my business with other women and encourage and inspire them to live their life.
Absolutely. I’m very grateful that there are women out there like you who take the interest to help people, especially women in that kind of time of need. It’s a very serious situation when you have a marriage and your life is all of a sudden shifting.
Now remember, any of you out there who are interested in connecting with Karen and learning more about her and about the issue of mortgages through divorce, you can find Karen online at www.karenboies.ca. Again, Boies is spelled b-o-i-e-s. You can also reach her through Twitter, twitter.com/karenboies and Facebook, mortgagefordivorce.karenboies as well, feel free to email her at Karen@mortgagecentrebc.com.
Thank you all for listening today and may your path through divorce and life change situation be smooth and easy and may you find those professionals who are meant in the world to help you. Bye for now. This is Doctor D. Enjoy!