You’re beginning a new chapter in life – life after divorce. You’re still young and you have exciting new experiences ahead. Perhaps you’ve already grown a family with your former spouse and are navigating co-parenting. Or maybe you’re taking this time to focus on the next steps in your career. It’s possible you’re dating again. Whatever path you decide to take after the dust of divorce has settled, it’s time to take stock of where you stand today.
Here are 5 tips for curating financial well-being after divorce:
- Assess where you are now. If you’re feeling stressed about finances, it can help to get organized. How much do you own and what do you owe? Your assets (what you own) include your bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, real estate, your car, and any other valuables you may have. Your liabilities (what you owe) may include your mortgage, student loan debt, credit card balances, car loans, or other money you owe. Your net worth is your assets less your liabilities. The wealth advisors at Marshall Financial also look at your current income and expenses as well as your cash flow – including any support you may receive from your former spouse – in creating your plan. Read more on our Financial Well-being Check-up – Net Worth Edition.
- Determine your goals for the future and write them down in a journal. Writing down your goals can help you remember them and motivate you to take action. You should be sure to include short, medium, and long-term goals. What are your values? What is your vision for life after divorce? These goals will help shape your financial plan and translate into actionable items – like building an emergency fund, saving for your kids’ education, or planning for a comfortable retirement. Having written financial goals that support your vision for the future increases the likelihood of achieving the life you want to create after divorce.
- Create a budget and stick to it. Perhaps you didn’t handle the finances when you were married and you’re unsure of how to maintain your monthly cash flow. Use what you learned in the previous tip to break down your budget. Some people prefer using a spreadsheet while others use budgeting envelopes to divvy up monthly expenses. Try to keep the Golden Rule of money management in mind – spend less than you make and invest your savings wisely over long periods of time. Every expenditure is a choice that affects your future and the goals you’ve laid out for yourself. It’s okay to treat yourself every once in a while but know your limits and stick to them.
- Know your credit score. Having a good credit score can make life easier when it comes to applying for a loan or a new credit card as you’re likely to be approved for the best terms and interest rates. You can request a free credit report at annualcreditreport.com. Many credit cards also have services that will provide you with changes to your credit report for free. However, it’s still a good idea to request a full report each year to ensure there are no accounts being incorrectly reported.
Don’t discount one of your most valuable assets – your career.
Maybe you took care of the kids while you were married and you’re starting fresh in this new chapter. Keep in mind that you have an opportunity to start growing your wealth through job-related investment plans like a 401(k) or other employer-based benefits. You may have also received a portion of your former spouse’s retirement plans and/or stock options. If you already have an established career, you’re in a position to look to the future and determine the next steps. Maybe it’s time to increase your 401(k) contribution. Or you could start planning for a career change. Check out our blog on what to consider prior to changing career paths.
Plan Now for the Future
No one plans for a divorce, so when it happens, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of the next steps. Use these tips to start focusing on your financial well-being. Make small changes today and look towards the future. After divorce, it’s essential to make your money work for you. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional can suggest the best options.
For more information, make an appointment with a Marshall Financial wealth advisor.