If your relationship is coming to an end, it’s time to think about how life — including your financial situation — is about to change. Divorce can be a long, complicated detangling process. And even if you and your soon-to-be-ex are amicable, major money changes lie ahead.
Before things get too hairy, there are a few steps you can take to help ease the separation process. At least when it comes to your money.
Confession: I'm scared to get a divorce because of money. How can I protect my finances before getting divorced?
It’s a good idea to start taking action as soon as you sense the end is near. Start small. Get organized by creating a list of all your assets and accounts — joint and individual. Next, create copies of your account statements and old tax returns, just in case you need documentation in the future.
Saving a little more than normal can also help you prepare for a drop in income. Remember: once you’ve gone your separate ways, the earnings that once sustained one family will need to support two separate households. This is one of the hardest pills to swallow when it comes to divorce… besides the tornado of emotions, of course. Psst…if you could use some help with that part, here are a few science-backed tips to help you move on.
But what if I don’t have the money to start over after divorce?
Divorces are scary for everyone. But the horror is on a different level for stay-at-home parents and homemakers. So what can you do? Start scheduling free consultations with divorce attorneys to discuss alimony, child support, and other financial support options. ASAP. You can also talk to a certified divorce financial analyst or even a financial planner who has experience with divorce. These experts can walk you through ways to get your fair share of assets. Read: future 401(k) and Social Security payouts.
Next, start opening new accounts to set the stage for financial independence. And consider ways to boost your own income. Going from staying at home to a full-time job can be overwhelming. Another option: try looking for part-time jobs or joining the gig economy.
PS: Even if you choose the full-time route, side hustles are a great way to boost your income even more.
Anything else I can do to take control of my finances after divorce?
Absolutely. Start getting to know what you owe. It’s important not to rely on old agreements with your ex to take care of your debt. Divorce has a weird way of…changing things.
Make a list of all your liabilities. Think: balances on credit cards, student loans, car loans, and mortgages. And include their interest rates, in order from most to least expensive. Then, create a get-out-of-debt plan. Two really popular methods:
Create a snowball effect to pay off debt.
Start with your smallest debt, and pay everything off one by one as quickly as possible. Or…
Start an avalanche of debt payoffs.
Set your sights on the debt with the highest interest rate to save yourself from those extra charges. And work your way down to the smallest, as quickly as possible.
And remember, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. The most important thing is to remain consistent.
Staying in control of your finances as you go through a break up is hard, but it isn’t impossible. Start saving, write out what you owe, and you’ll be enjoying your new life in no time.
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