Who You Gonna Call? How to Manage Emergencies Without Your Spouse

One nice thing about being married is that most likely you could always call your spouse when crisis struck, no matter how big or small. It could have been as simple as locking yourself out of the house or cajoling him (or her) to dispose of the dead mouse in a mousetrap to something as serious as being knocked unconscious in a car accident. Now that you are divorced or going through it, your spouse may no longer be there to help you deal with life’s annoyances or catastrophes. This is one of the not-so-fun things about being single — you’re on your own to handle everything. But if you prepare now with a few simple steps, you’ll be ready to tackle almost anything by yourself.

Your car breaks down. You’re stuck on the side of the road with an overheated engine or a flat tire. Now what? Make sure you have some type of roadside assistance available. This could be through your car’s manufacturer or lease provider. If this isn’t available to you, try another provider such as AAA. Even better? Learn how to fix your own flat, and you won’t have a need to call anyone. This can be quite empowering! It’s also important to keep up with any regularly scheduled maintenance on your car, such as oil changes, tire rotations and more.

Who’s your ICE? This is your In Case of Emergency person, which most likely was your spouse in the past. It’s time to find a new “person” — a close friend or family member who is listed as “ICE” in your phone. In the event of an accident where you can’t speak for yourself, a first responder can search for “ICE” on your phone so they know who to talk to. You should update your medical forms and work information as well. Be prepared; this step can be quite emotional! I remember updating a form at my doctor’s office shortly after my divorce, and realizing I no longer had an In Case of Emergency person was quite the stab in the heart. There are also some great apps that will provide information on who to contact if you are incapacitated, plus allergy information, medications, medical conditions, etc. Some apps will even put this information as your screensaver so somebody simply has to power on your phone to access the information.

Phone fouls and computer catastrophes. Computers crash. Phones fall in toilets or get lost. It’s a fact of life. You think it won’t happen to you until it does. When my computer crashed, it felt like a death. I thought I had taken precautions because I had everything backed up to an external hard drive… which conveniently failed as well. Thankfully, my kid’s dad had our pictures and personal info on his computer. Otherwise, I would have lost everything! I have since switched to Carbonite (www.carbonite.com), which is an online backup solution. I don’t have to think about it backing up my information; it just automatically happens. If the unthinkable happens again, I just need to go to my online backup and everything will be back to normal. Same goes for your smart phone. Back it up regularly so you’ll have your lifeline back in no time! You can also purchase insurance for your phone, computer and other electronics through your phone service provider or the company you bought your products from. Very often these policies will cover your phone or computer if it gets lost, stolen or broken.

Don’t get locked out. Make sure you have extra keys for your home and car. Leave a copy with a trusted friend or neighbor, keep an extra in your wallet and/or hide in a safe place.

Stock your medicine cabinet. What happens if you’re hit with the flu, can barely move from the bed (or toilet) and feel like death warmed over? There’s nothing worse than feeling like this and having no one to run to the store for chicken soup and TheraFlu. The same thing applies if your child gets a fever or is stung by a bee. Do you have your Tylenol and Benadryl on hand? There’s nothing worse than a midnight run to the store with one or more screaming, sick and tired kids in tow. I had no Benadryl when my daughter got stung by a bee, and let me tell you, that was not a fun trip to the store! If your spouse handled these (somewhat) minor medical emergencies and was always able to magically produce the right fix for the right ailment (Princess or Ninja Turtle Band-Aids, children’s Tylenol, Pepto-Bismol and more), it’s time to make sure you are fully prepared when your children are staying with you.

What if you can’t work? It happens. You could come down with a serious illness or are injured and may be unable to work for some period of time. When there are two incomes, this issue may not be as big of a risk. If you have one income, you need to be protected. Check into disability insurance through your place of employment or a supplemental policy such as through Aflac.

Handling home emergencies. Don’t wait until water is running through your kitchen ceiling to figure out who to call. Make a list, ask for suggestions from friends and neighbors or simply put advertisements of repairmen that pique your interest in a folder. Make sure you have contacts for plumbing, electrical, your appliances and the garage door. Also, have your home insurance policy and phone number handy! It’s also important to stay on top of regular maintenance to help prevent bigger issues. Do you know how to shut off your water and re-ignite your pilot light? (Do you even know where or what your pilot light is? Hint — Check your furnace.) Make sure you have an understanding of your yard’s sprinkler system and a ladder to change those really high light bulbs or the batteries in your fire alarm (which invariably will lose battery power and need new batteries in the middle of the night; it’s just a fact of life).

Get up to date on your insurance. If you’re divorced or going through divorce, it’s likely your health, car and home insurance policies will need to be changed. Make sure you’re up to date on all of this before you’re stuck in a bind. If your kids will be covered by your spouse’s insurance, make sure you have their insurance cards and policy info.

Kids’ stuff. Make sure all your kids’ forms for school have been updated with your and your spouse’s new addresses, phone numbers and more. If your spouse always handled school pick-ups or babysitter arrangements, it might be good to have a back-up plan in the form of trusted friends or family members who can pick your kid up if he or she gets sick at school if you’re stuck in a meeting, plus the numbers of a few reputable babysitters.

Transitioning into single life requires many adjustments for managing your day-to-day life, but being proactive can prevent a bad situation from taking a turn for the worse. Better yet, you’ll have a feeling of control and empowerment when you do successfully handle the curveball on your own! Learn more about how Untangle The Knot can support you going through divorce and transitioning into your new single life.

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How to Protect Yourself Online When Dealing with Divorce

When contemplating divorce or going through divorce, you have more on your plate than perhaps ever before. Protecting yourself online is probably one of the last things on your mind, but it is so important! Not taking these steps puts you at risk for damaging your credit, increasing your debt, having your confidential information in the hands of your spouse or others, damaging your reputation as a parent, or you could even be handing over proof to the legal system that you are at fault in your divorce! Trust me, it’s worth the effort to lock down your online self!

  1. Change UserIDs and Passwords. Computer logins, appleIDs, emails, your personal bank and credit card accounts – each and every app, device and account you ever access with a login needs to be changed. Total pain in the arse I know, but do you want your spouse checking out emails between you and your lawyer or tracking your spending? Didn’t think so.
  2. Create a new email account. This adds an additional layer of security. It’s an account your spouse doesn’t know about, and you can keep all divorce related communications housed in this one place. It also has a side benefit of not having divorce related emails attacking you throughout the day!
  3. Stop Posting. Posting pictures on FaceBook documenting your party pics or hanging out with people or in places you wouldn’t want your spouse to see are a bad idea. You could literally be handing over evidence against yourself. Same concept holds true for Twitter and similar apps. Don’t think your spouse’s lawyer isn’t reviewing your social media accounts! This is a great time for a social media detox.
  4. Phone Tracking. Smart phones have done an amazing job of keeping families and friends in the loop of each other’s locations and sharing information. This is fine and dandy when that is what you want. I’m fairly sure this isn’t a great idea for those contemplating divorce or going through divorce! Remove your device and account information for all other devices that do not belong to you or that are not with you at all times. If you have an iPhone or iPad, changing your appleID is the first step!
  5. PIN Numbers. Add and/ or change them all now. This includes passwords to access voicemail, ATM machines, your phone and any accounts. If you do not currently have a PIN on your phone or voicemail, now is a great time to add it. Your spouse can probably access your voicemail accounts from another phone and get messages if you do not have a PIN. No lucky numbers, birthdays or “1234”. Be tricky!
  6. Electronic Document Storage. You may choose to keep important financial or legal documents electronically instead of just paper based. Keeping everything on an external storage drive that is password protected and kept in a safe place is a good option. Services such as Google Docs and DropBox are also viable options. Both services claim to be highly secure when set up appropriately. Password protecting, encrypting files and using the two step verification adds to your online protection. Read and follow the instructions and be comfortable with the terms and conditions before moving forward.
  7. Keep confidential info out of your emails. Whether preparing to divorce or not, keeping your social security number, credit card and bank account numbers and other sensitive information out of your emails is necessary. This is about more than your spouse finding information, this is about protecting your identity. Divorce is challenging enough without adding a stolen identity to the mix!

Is your password ‘password’  ?

When changing your userIDs and passwords, avoid the common traps that will leave the door open for your spouse to access these accounts. Your spouse likely knows your commonly used usernames and passwords — so time to get creative and create strong passwords! Keep actual words, children’s names and your lucky numbers out of the passwords. Use at least 8 characters and include symbols, numbers and letters with both forms of capitalization. Keeping track of these passwords is next to impossible without some help. Check out online password managers. Many password managers will also create secure passwords for you. If you choose to keep a hard copy, keep it in a safe that only you can access.

Beware of Changing Joint Accounts
Changing the login information on an account owned by you and your spouse will likely send red flags to your spouse. The company will likely send an automatic email or text notification of the change. The goal is to protect yourself – not lock your spouse out of an account. Also, beware of the message you are sending if your spouse doesn’t yet know you are looking to get divorced! You’ll want to contact each credit card company used for joint accounts and get their advice on how to handle that account based upon your situation and how the account is set up. Keep a close eye on the activity of these joint accounts while both spouses are using the card. You want to ensure cash isn’t disappearing or credit cards aren’t being maxed!

Taking these steps will help keep your money and information secure and will provide you much needed peace of mind. Not only does this help when preparing for divorce, but is also good practice for everyone at anytime. Much more valuable information on this topic and many others is available with your Untangle The Knot Service. Learn more!

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