Preparing your finances
CONTROLLING THE CHAOS!
It is never too early in the process of separation to begin planning for your financial future as a single individual, and it can be complex, intimidating, and fraught with emotion. As an attorney, matrimonial mediator AND certified divorce financial consultant, I will guide you through this process gently and respectfully.
- Understand and accept the fact that your emotions are going to try to cloud your decisions, especially on issues that are nostalgic for you. This is absolutely normal. It is important to recognize so you can evaluate your true motivating factors behind certain financial decisions. Very helpful and therapeutic methods to achieve this clarity are meditation and exercise, the benefits cannot be overstated, even in modest quantities. Even a brisk walk will relax you and help you manage your emotions.
- Nothing ensures the success of your new financial future than a shiny new personalized filing system! The possibilities are endless, and there is certainly one that you will find easy to track and operate. There are also many online tools available, often your financial institution will offer many options, they can be very helpful is helping you manage your finances and budget.
- Perhaps for the first time in your life, you must plan for your independent financial identity. Start with a savings/checking account in your name only, a credit card (choose a great interest rate and reward system, you will be flooded with options if your credit is good.) This fog of details too shall lift!
- A comprehensive reality check. Yes, the very thought can be terrifying, but knowledge is power! If your spouse always took care of all aspects of your finances, guess what? You are going to be on your own, and getting real about it is MANDATORY.
- You must have a new budget and financial plan that work best for you within the parameters of your new economic reality. For perhaps the first time, you absolutely MUST find a plan for an emergency reserve, no matter how modest at first.
- Collect all of your financial records dating back 2 years. These will include bank accounts, tax records, investments, life insurance, loans, educational expenses, titles and deeds, etc.
- Retirement accounts? Life insurance? Any policy that requires a beneficiary requires your attention now!
- Be sure that all of your government documents are updated if you have taken back your former surname. Your driver’s license is the first to come to mind, but remember your Social Security card and passport as well.
- Long-term illness/disability insurance, while hopefully never needed, will provide you with peace of mind should an unfortunate event occur that would render you unable to work for an extended period of time.
Be kind to yourself! Respect your feelings, honor your emotions. Take breaks, don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed. You need to scream, cry, wallow in self-pity sometimes? So do it, allow it fully and it will pass. Reach out to people who will both let you cry AND make you laugh. Keep a journal, develop new routines (this is particularly enjoyable with children). Most importantly, make plans. What will you be free to do that you could not do before? Start a bucket list! Plan quality time to re-engage with the friends who may have fallen through the cracks during the transition - maybe prepare them a beautiful meal to celebrate your strength and toast to your future.