By Robert Fezza and Steve Siders
A divorce may be the most stressful and hardest experience of your life. Any life event that disrupts your personal and financial well-being will cause hardship and concern. You may be faced with taking on new responsibilities that aren’t your strengths, so making good decisions is paramount to avoiding completely derailing the best of intentions. With time, patience, and quality advice, you can and will overcome this.
To help you be in control of your financial situation, let’s walk through some essential steps to take if you’re facing, or just concluding, a divorce.
Money Date: Your first step is to open your calendar and book a two-hour “Money Date,” an appointment with yourself where you’ll take a detailed look at your finances. This will need to be repeated for weekly paying of bills and monitoring your cash flow, but first, it is good to take to look at the big picture.
Get Clear about your Goals: Your short-term and long-term goals will provide perspective and motivation to stick with your budget. Write down all the things you’d like to accomplish in the next year and estimate what they’ll cost (e.g., new furniture, a trip to see family, therapy, or continuing education expenses). Now, look at the bigger picture and list your long-term goals and dreams (e.g., retirement, a child’s college tuition, or making a long-distance move).
Add Up Your Income: Next, list every regular source of income. If you work, include your take-home pay after taxes and deductions, and then list alimony, child support, and any other sources of income.
Write Down Your Expenses: Even if cash flow isn’t a concern, it’s vital to know where your money is going. Start with non-negotiable fixed expenses: rent or mortgage, utilities, transportation, loan and credit payments, and groceries. Next, list variable expenses. These are the discretionary, flexible categories like clothing, entertainment, dining out, and savings.
Prioritize and Adjust as Needed: Fine-tune your budget, cutting what you don’t need and adjusting it to fit your lifestyle and goals. Live within your means, with a goal of having some extra money to spare after all expenses are paid. Revisit your budget monthly and adjust according to your priorities.
Make It Practical: To stay on track, create a practical approach to follow regularly. Consider using simple budgeting software, such as Mint or YNAB (You Need A Budget). Reach out to your support team regularly, and be sure to call an advisor to help put numbers around the saving you’re doing for those long-term goals.
Remember: change might be tough, but you are too. By keeping to a budget and staying focused on your goals, you can run the divorce marathon and cross the finish line stronger, wiser, and more financially prepared. You’ve got this! Your troubles can be overcome with time, patience and quality advice. Life is a journey. Navigate it wisely.
Robert Fezza, CFP® and Steve Siders, CFP® own Odyssey Personal Financial Advisors, 500 Sun Valley Drive, Suite A-6, Roswell, GA. Their firm specializes in working with people who are serious about making progress toward financial goals. Odyssey manages portfolios greater than $250,000. 770-992-4444, Visit their site at www.odysseypfa.comOdyssey. Securities offered through Cetera Financial Specialists LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Cetera Investment Advisers LLC. Cetera entities are under separate ownership from any other named entity.