Tips for Managing Your Finances After a Divorce
If you've recently been through a divorce, it's normal to be worried about your finances. Although settling into a new financial life takes time, there are steps you can take today to help ensure a secure future.
Your financial picture
- Create a personal financial statement. A personal financial statement is a great way to analyze your monthly income and expenses. Do you earn enough to continue your pre-divorce lifestyle? If the answer is no, figure out ways to trim your expenses.
- Continue to save. Even if your goal is to pay down debt, it's important to set aside some money for an emergency fund and long-term savings. If you contribute to a 401(k) plan, be sure to take advantage of any employer match.
- Check on your credit. You can request a free copy of your credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies through www.annualcreditreport.com. If you notice problems that were caused by your ex-spouse, submit an explanation to the credit bureau.
- Review the status of the divorce settlement. Verify that both parties have completed their obligations, such as refinancing a mortgage into one name or removing the other's name from credit cards.
- Retitle property. If you haven't done so already, change the ownership of property according to the terms of your divorce settlement.
- Inform the social security office of your new status. One of the few things that can't be done online, a name change requires a visit to your local social security office. After you receive a new social security card, you can update other identification, such as your driver's license.
- Organize your financial records. Whether they're stored in your computer or locked in a safety deposit box, it's important to keep your documents organized and at the ready. Give a list of their locations to someone you trust, along with contact numbers for people who should be notified in an emergency.
- Simplify your payments. Many banks offer online bill payment services that can help you automate your money management. Just set the future payment dates online and let the bank pay your bills automatically.
- Review your policies and update beneficiaries. Check your employer's disability benefits (or, if you're not working, long-term care insurance), as well as your homeowners, auto, and life insurance policies, making any necessary adjustments. You may also need to select new beneficiaries for your life insurance, retirement accounts, and transfer-on-death brokerage accounts (unless your divorce settlement prevents it).
- Look into COBRA health benefits. Under COBRA, you may be eligible to continue health insurance through your former spouse's employer for at least 36 months.
- Execute new estate planning documents. Your ex-spouse's fiduciary appointments or beneficial interests aren't necessarily terminated upon your divorce. Consider updating your will, trusts, powers of attorney, health care proxies, and living will.
- Reassess your investing risk tolerance. We can help you determine if your current investment plan suits your new goals.
Taking control of your future
After the stress of a divorce, it never hurts to explore options for the future—whether that means a change of scenery, a new career path, or maybe even going back to school. Whatever you decide to do once the dust clears, we're here to help you create a financial strategy for your next phase in life.
This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.
© 2013 Commonwealth Financial Network®