Michelle Svagdis, 49, an elementary school teacher, first met Terri R. Munro nearly two years ago while divorcing her husband of 25 years. Her attorney played financial matchmaker with Ms. Munro, hoping that she could help guide the divorcee through this transitional event.
Ms. Svagdis was fortunate not to have been saddled with any major debt. She was embarking on a second career as a teacher and returned to college before the divorce. Years before that, she was a hairdresser and eventually became a stay-at-home mom to their daughter, who is now 22.
To her advantage, Ms. Svagdis also handled her household's day-to-day finances. After helping her husband climb the corporate ladder, she wound up with a chunk of change from alimony, investments and savings.
“My lawyer said that many women, after being married so long, have had their husband pay the bills,” she said. “When I was married, my husband planned for the future, and I did the day-to-day bill paying.”
As the divorce wound down, Ms. Svagdis needed to be brought up-to-date on financial planning, investing and life insurance. Health insurance benefits were a new area with which the divorcee wasn't familiar.
“All of a sudden, I had to worry about benefits for me — picking the right health insurance and having the right life insurance,” she said. “Terri walked me through it step by step. She's trying to empower women so they feel like they're not alone.”
Circumstances have turned around considerably since the divorce. Ms. Svagdis has bought her own home, invests for the future and enjoys her full-time job. Ms. Munro attended her housewarming party, where attendees toasted her client's new lease on life.
“Terri brings that element of a friend, confidante and cheerleader,” Ms. Svagdis said. “When you're going through a divorce, you feel like it's the darkest time. Terri — through thick and thin — has been there.”