Navigating Solo: Facing Your Financial Future
You may or may not have handled your family finances. Or perhaps you and your spouse shared the responsibility. Even if you had completely separate bank accounts and split expenses, your circumstances have changed and you need to consider your individual economic future. It’s easy to mistake the forest for the trees if you’re angry or distressed. But now is the time to take a deep breath, a pen and paper and a hard look at you financial needs and responsibilities.
Assess the Situation
While it’s important to know the value of all the assets you and your ex acquired, don’t overlook any debts you may be personally held responsible for as well. Make sure you have a clear picture of your fiscal present before you plan for the future.
List your immediate and long-term needs and goals. Figure out a budget that will account for both. It’s easy to plan for college expenses, but don’t ignore the need to set aside money for your own retirement. Make contributions to a 401K, if you have one, or talk to a financial advisor about other vehicles for investment.
Know What You Can Count On
These include your salary, if you’re working, and the assets you’ve been awarded. However, your investment accounts and even your house may decline in value. Alimony and child support may be interrupted if your ex becomes unemployed or when your child reaches majority.
Have a Contingency Plan
Evaluate both where to trim your budget and how to capitalize on your assets. You may want to switch cable providers to take advantage of promotional fees, work your meal menu around sale items, or shop around for lower car and house insurance rates. It might be time to transfer credit card balances to a lower interest rate card. Consider bartering your skills. You may be a graphic designer, a talented gardener, a tax accountant or great at organizing clutter. Find out if you can trade services with your hairdresser or handyman.
Staying realistic, resilient and resourceful will help you build an independent and secure economic future.