Written by Marci Deane

What to do when the love is gone….

The two of you are separating and suddenly you face not only emotional upheaval, but financial changes as well. At a time when your head  is already spinning, you need to wrap your head around the shift in income, the current asset and debt picture and what to do with the  house.


The steps you take now will have a huge impact on the final settlement and your life going forward.  Here’s where to start:

STEP ONE - Make lists:

This may be the most useful thing you do as you move through your separation and finalize your divorce.  The list should be broken out to “mine” and “yours”:

  1. List your household ASSETS. You must list everything.  From your cash and savings to physical items with a financial value; and don’t forget the little things like travel points!
  2.  List your LIABILITIES. Again, you must list everything. Car leases/loans, lines of credit, student loans, all credit cards (don’t forget gas and department store cards), even debts to family members must be on this list.

Now you can see clearly which assets and liabilities are jointly owned and which are in separate names. An important goal is to ensure you both walk away with clean credit. While things are being worked out, commit to keeping payments up to date.

Have your name removed from credit cards and lines of credit that you do not have access to or that you are not using. If you do not have a card that lists you as the primary card holder, now is the time to get credit established in your name only.


STEP TWO - Work out your Monthly Cash Flow:

Take time to record all of the money coming in and going out.  Within a month or two you will see the pattern of spending. This step will:  1) help you set a budget for your future life and 2) help clarify any future support payments.


STEP THREE – Make copies of ALL important paperwork:

Bills, insurance, mortgage documents, all of it. This step is crucial to your ability to speak about your financial and personal affairs. While it sounds daunting (it will be time consuming) you may be surprised how therapeutic it can be to put your paperwork in order. If necessary, hire an organizer to help.


STEP FOUR – Talk to your Spouse:

This may be the hardest step of all.

You need to decide how to divide the assets and liabilities. In a perfect world, together you will reach an agreement on who is moving out of the house or if you are selling, as well as custody of the kids and / or pets. However, given that emotions run high, you will likely need to involve a neutral third party.  You may require lawyers, or perhaps a mediated process. It is very rare for couples to settle matters without some outside guidance. Choose what works best for both of you and follow through with what you are advised to do.


Factors to consider throughout all four steps:

Alimony and Support:

After the separation, one of you may receive monthly payments from the other. Any money you receive will help you qualify for a future mortgage. Have these payments documented and recorded on your monthly bank statements.

If you are paying your spouse, make sure that your payments are well documented. Most lenders understand support payments and treat them fairly.


If your family home and mortgage are in both of your names, you have probably wondered, “What will happen to the house?”

Don’t panic. Sit down with a mortgage professional and run some numbers. With an estimate of your monthly cash flow (thank goodness we took care of that in step two), your mortgage broker will show you how much you can afford to borrow on your own. Remember, alimony and support can help you to qualify for a mortgage.

If your mortgage is not in both names, you will need financial and legal advice to ensure the separation is fair to both of you.

At times, the process of separating a relationship and finances may feel like a never ending, painful journey. Remember to take time for yourself. Make a commitment to do things you enjoy and the rest of this “work” will be easier.

Marci Deane can be reached at marci@askmarci.ca  Mortgage Alliance West

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Do You Have The Secret Sauce?

On May 2nd, 2012, posted in: Latest SWAN Blog by

By Karen Dodd

This article was inspired by a conversation I had with a colleague. We were admiringly discussing another successful entrepreneur in our world. My colleague said the most interesting thing to me. She said that in watching this woman doing what she does best, presenting her expertise onstage, she became aware of this kind of ‘mystique’ about her that she couldn’t quite put her finger on, but knew without a shadow of a doubt that it worked. The woman in question has this uncanny ability to CONNECT with her audience in a truly authentic and compelling way.

Later, my colleague started to watch her on video but for some reason had the sound turned down. Only able to observe her body language but not hear what she was actually saying, it finally hit her. This fascinating entrepreneurial woman HAS the secret sauce!

What’s YOUR Secret Sauce?

What exactly is the secret sauce and how in the heck to do you get it?

I think the best description I can give you is that it’s what comes across as your “essence.” In his book, "True Purpose, 12 Strategies for Discovering the Difference You Are meant to Make," Tim Kelley describes it like this: “Essence is the most fundamental aspect of purpose, and the most difficult to describe. It is the aspect of purpose that is pure being, without doing. You ARE your purpose, even when you are standing still or asleep. This component of purpose is usually the most unconscious, that is, the least apparent to you…It is subtle and pervasive. Everyone you meet is affected by it, whether they are aware of it or not.”

Wow, how do you get some of THAT!? Well the good news is, you already possess it — you ARE it! It’s in the DNA of your ‘human-beingness.” It isn’t something you have to DO or learn.

If someone has ever said something to you like, “You’re just a natural people-connector,” or “You always seem to know the right thing to say to comfort and reassure someone,” they’re describing your essence. We all have an essence; some of us are just more overt in displaying it than others. For those who are in touch with and aware of their essence, it’s a bit similar to being an “unconscious competent.”

Your Secret Sauce Ingredients

By getting quiet with yourself and also by asking others what they see as your essence, you can become much more aware of how you affect others positively or negatively. Tim Kelley has some great exercises in his book that can help you discover more about your essence.

What makes you,  you -- that secret sauce -- is made up of your purpose, your essence and your blessing. By getting really clear on what these things are, it allows you to maximize your positioning with your prospects and clients.

When you project those, you’ve GOT the secret sauce for your ideal clients and you’ll see your business flourish!

Karen Dodd is a contributing writer to Entrepreneurial Woman Magazine and is currently writing her first mystery novel. She is also enjoying — perhaps for the first time ever – being truly present, meditating, playing the piano and guitar, dolphin-watching at her waterfront home, and creating unique, colorful and textured knitting pieces of art. Love and life is good…no, exceptional!





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The Art of Follow Up

On April 5th, 2012, posted in: Latest SWAN Blog by

by Mary-Jane Mehlenbacher

If you are reading this article, you have probably been to one of our SWAN meetings before. They are a great opportunity to meet new people, be inspired, learn from our guest speakers and create some great long term relationships.

Any networking event can really do this for you, but what should be the steps you take to make each visit a valuable one?

The answer all lies in your follow up.


Think of your networking as a two way street, pinpoint your ideal clients, and then also think about THEIR business and how you may be able to help them.  Now when you meet people, you determine who you would like to work with and who you would like to connect with.  Be sure at the meeting to let them know why you would like to connect with them and ask if you can follow up.  If they say yes, then great, grab a card and let’s start the process.

When to Call:  Send them a quick email the day you meet or the next day.  I wouldn’t CALL the day you meet unless the prospect has asked you directly.  Most people are running out of an event to catch up on the work for the day, but you can follow up that day with an email letting them know you are going to ring them the next day.  A simple email like “Hi Jane, It was great to meet you this morning at “X” event and I am looking forward to connecting.  I will ring you tomorrow morning to set a time that we can meet this week”.  It is polite, it is not trying to sell anything and it is preparing them for your call!  Think of times when you have called someone and they can’t place who you are.  This is a GREAT way to prepare your prospect for your call!   General rule of thumb, contact your prospect within 48 hours.  The longer you wait the more people they meet and the less likely they are to remember who you are and what you talked about (or perhaps they may even start thinking of your service or product and also search your competition!)

Your first call when you follow up is meant to realign yourself from when you met (hopefully the day before) and determine the “what’s next”.  Here are some tips on your first call:


  1. Don’t waste their time, get to the point and let them know what you need and how long it will take.
  2. Read your prospect:  if they are open to chat, then go with the flow… if they are short and need to get off the line, be sure to respect their time and get off the call.
  3. Book the time that you will spend with them this week or next week.  And define what it will look like:  will it be meeting in person, a webinar, or just a phone call?  How long will it take?  (The less time, the more likely they will be to meet with you.) And don’t forget your “What is in it for me?” Be sure your client/ prospect can see the potential benefit from you meeting together. See if you can give them three benefits!

A couple more tips for when you are on the phone:

  • Stand up
  • Have your calendar ready to book appointments
  • Smile

Good Job, your first meeting is set and you have completed your first call with a new prospect or potential business alliance!  Be sure you are prepared for your meeting so you don’t waste anyone’s time.

This is a great way to get started with your networking follow up.  You can find more tips on follow up on www.facebook.com/fiitfu or our blog at www.fiitfu.com/blog.  We write daily on Follow Up tips, motivation, leadership and goal setting!  Remember, FORTUNE IS IN THE FOLLOW UP!

Mary-Jane Mehlenbacher, founder of Fiitfu CRM Solutions Inc. has directed her passion and skill to help other women be successful. Her creation of Fiitfu.com offers a business tool like no other CRM – focusing on the follow up.  She is now sharing her corporate sales knowledge with her warmth and charming personality with speaking engagements. mj@fitfu.com








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SWAN Member: Heather Walker
Virtually Behind the Scenes

I am a mature, successful woman.

I have raised 3 children, run marathons, volunteer in my community and appreciate when my husband helps with the housework (even small successes need honorable mention!)

Why do I feel hounded by lack of participation in social media?  Is my life less worldly because I am not part of the Twitterverse (the universe of people who use Twitter)?  Do I really need to know how many friends I have, whether they like me, recommend me or want to share the minutiae of day-to-day living?  Who has time?  Do I want to get caught in the abyss?

You too?  Me too.  Sorta.

I was hired to arrange a Social Media - Business 101 training session for clients; I was without excuse when the invitation was extended to join them.

“Oh sure, I can help out behind the scenes with classroom support you need that day.

Oh, you mean JOIN YOU – as in collaborative knowledge sharing.  Umm, ahhh, sure.”

Saying in the best Netizen (Net + citizen = person who regularly uses the Internet) voice I could muster,

“You know, it never hurts to brush up on your social media skills.”

Arggg.  The abyss, the abyss!

I was wrong.  Sorta.

What I learned was enlightening.  I was pleased to discover that I am discriminatively savvy with my social media choices. On a personal level, I am a social animal.  With a fondness for face-to-face, networking, in-person shopping, hand held telephone conversations (blue tooth when driving), old-fashioned letter writing and respectful hen-pecking sessions.  My “peeps” don’t tweet, ‘hey let’s meet’.  And it turns out, that’s okay.

Business on the other hand is a different animal.  Business wants to be liked, shared, found, posted, commented, reached and mapped.  When business is engaged, it becomes visible, accessible, marketable, promotable and viable.  And so do clients!

Which site best reflects your business?  Facebook?  LinkedIn? Plaxo?  Other?  How do you want your social business to look?  How much do you want to manage?  Who do you want to attract?

For me it was, Eeny, Meeny, Miney Moe – LinkedIn had portfolio.  Connected with those I know, peers I consider pro.  The training session proved to be more than the fundamental steps in setting up a profile; it stretched to include awareness, motive and an uber business goal.

The class is over.  I have new resolve, new respect and (TADA!) my first homework assignment completed, a blog.

Feel free to check me out – HERE!

Heather Walker, Virtually Behind the Scenes

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With the start of a new year many people ‘think about’ setting goals but very few actually do that. In fact apparently only 3% of people take time to write out their goals because they don’t really know how to set goals. Research on goal setting consistently gives these 3 Top Reasons why people don’t set goals:

1) Not understanding the importance of goal setting;

2) Fear of Rejection and possibly the most important reasons is

3) Fear of Failure.

So what can you do about it? Set up a time to set some goals where you are alone and without interruption. Have a pad and pen and make a list of 20 things you would like to achieve this year – don’t think about it just write. Make them personal and professional in nature. Now go back over your list and select your TOP 5 – these are the ones that are non-negotiable for the year. These are the ones you are really serious about accomplishing because they will change your life. Next select another 5 – these are ones you would really like to do but are not as high a priority. Your last 10 are ones that you might find are negotiable and in fact may change as the year progresses.

Now that you have your TOP 20 Goals written down I am pretty sure you are feeling good, and perhaps a little overwhelmed. So to get you out of ‘overwhelmed’ I’m going to suggest that you create a Vision Board with pictures, words, things that represent your goals. Put more emphasis on your TOP 5. Your Vision Board can be anything that you can paste or attach things to like bristol board. I personally use a cork board in a frame which works well for me (click this link to see it). Then when you are all finished give it your blessing and set your intentions for your goals to be manifested. Remember the Law of Attraction tells us that whatever we put our attention to, whether good or not so good, we will attract.

The final piece to setting goals is to write them out now. Successful woman use the S.M.A.R.T. method and break down big goals into smaller steps so they are more manageable. So your goals become Speciific, Measureable, Action oriented, Realistic, and Time bound. Try setting up a table/chart with the headings: Month, Task & Action Steps, Who is Doing Task; Schedule Into Calendar so you know how long each task will take and who is responsible for it. Even though you know your goal for the year, you will be more likely to succeed if you break it down into 3 month intervals.

Now take a deep breath and tell yourself ‘I can do this with peace and ease’ and get started!

Written by Dana J. Smithers Founder of PRES Staging & Empowered Women In Business

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