Oct 13, 2023
How to Feel Financially Confident after Divorce
As people enter the beginning stages of a divorce, emotions often run high, especially if younger children are involved. Also, the process of splitting up the belongings and working through the finances can seem daunting. However, as the divorce process moves along and the end draws near, many of the stresses of negotiations and emotional triggers subside, and one can focus on the life ahead, post-divorce.
Many times, especially if you weren’t the primary “money person” in the marriage, the thought of managing the micro and macro aspects of your financial life post-divorce may seem overwhelming. It can be difficult to navigate because you may feel alone and not have anyone with whom to discuss important financial issues and decisions. Even your closest friends may not know what’s going on with your finances, as money is not a common topic of conversation for many people.
So, what can you do to take control of your finances and feel financially empowered after divorce? Here are just a few of the basics to get you started:
1. Understand what there is.
They say knowledge is power, so simply understanding what types of accounts you have and what’s held in them can help you gain a real sense of control over your finances. Are there retirement or after-tax accounts, and if so, how much is held in each? How much cash is being held? If there are any investments – such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds – what are they and how much is allocated to them? Creating a list of accounts and noting as many details as possible can help provide a great overview of someone’s financial life. It’s important not to forget to list liabilities (mortgage, credit card balance, car loan, line of credit, etc.), insurance policies and other significant accounts as well, in order to get a more comprehensive picture of your finances.
2. Understand fixed and discretionary expenses.
These expenses can look very different than what they were when you were married. Fixed expenses include housing, food and transportation, while discretionary expenses include entertainment, dining out and shopping. If the saying “two can live almost as cheaply as one” is true, then you might find that divorce means paying a greater share of your income to cover expenses. Simply understanding what money is coming in and where it’s going can help you make more-informed decisions.
3. Assess goals now as a single individual.
Consider creating some financial goals for yourself, such as retiring at a certain age or purchasing a new home. Also include smaller goals, such as buying a vehicle or going on a trip abroad. From that list of goals, you can “reverse engineer” what needs to be done to reach them. Additionally, for any investments that were received as a result of the divorce, you must assess whether you’re taking the appropriate level of risk now that you’re single. Often, exposure to stocks, bonds and other investments needs to be adjusted after divorce to fit the needs of an individual (as opposed to a couple, whose overall needs may differ).
Lastly, remember that you don’t have to tackle these issues alone. Just as you may have seen a therapist to discuss the emotional impact of divorce, discussing financial matters with an advisor can help you lay out the framework for your future and empower you to feel more confident moving forward. If you or a loved one is going through a divorce, one of the first steps to consider is contacting a financial professional (like a Corient Wealth Advisor) for help with figuring out your finances and building the wonderful next chapter that awaits.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenny Chung, CFP®, CIMA®, CDFA®
Jenny is a Wealth Advisor in our Itasca, IL, office. She uses her background as a teacher to help individuals and families feel comfortable with their investments and planning. She also works in the firm’s Divorce Practice Group, which helps divorcing individuals navigate the process and works closely with them afterward to help them build a full life.
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