Since tax time is almost behind us, this is a good time to see where you are in relation to your finances after a divorce, particularly if your divorce is a recent one. If your divorce happened a while ago and you’re still single, personal finances is a topic that deserves attention. Moreover, this topic can take on added importance if you are contemplating a new marriage: finances are often cited as the most common source of stress for relationships.
Learning about finances generally can certainly be confusing and intimidating. There is financial planning for buying a home, college for the kids, retirement, investment and savings.
Trying to get your finances in order after a divorce can seem downright depressing and something you can deal with tomorrow; but that is probably not a good idea.
Where do you start?
There is no need to complicate things. Start simply, right where you are at right now.
The National Endowment for Financial Education is a non-profit organization with excellent and free resources to get you started. You get access to a lot of neutral information about finances, not slanted to particularly financial institutions—they are not “sponsored” articles with tidbits of information.
My favorite, if I were starting on this now, is their Smart about Money website. They have a series, Money Basics, which can be the perfect starting point for getting your post-divorce finances in order. One of my favorite tools is the Spending Plan. You have heard of a budget. You may hate that word; I do! However, I love spending plans. The reason I love this terms is that it doesn’t signal a life of limitation, scarcity and deprivation, terms brought to mind by the word “budget”. It does signal a life of possibilities, of reaching the goals that are important to me. It signals control: conscious decisions about money that will get me what I want.
To Get a Better Understanding about Money
Any book on money will touch on your relationship with it: what you think/feel it is, what you think/feel it means. You may not think that you have such a relationship but you do. We all do, and learning what that is for you personally can be a revelation.
The best book on relationship with money I have found is Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence. I read the first edition way back when (in the 20th century, actually), and still have it; and I am in the process of reading this updated one. Just as all relationships change, mine with money has also changed a bit, and this book has been a great resource.
After the Basics
There are plenty of books on finance, but one of my favorite authors is Suze Orman. She actually has an article on finances after divorce on Oprah.com; but it is more a case study of one particular woman. It will not necessarily be a starting point for you unless your situation is similar to the one she describes.
A better resource from her to continue building on the basics is The Money Class: How to Stand in Your Truth and Create the Future You Deserve. This book was published in January 2012, and I find her first chapter on The New American Dream extremely relevant to our personal economic prospects today.
Money is an issue in most divorces, whether it’s equitable distribution, alimony or child support. Plus, long after the divorce is over, money is still an issue if we don’t know how to make it (income) or how to spend it (debt or investments and savings).
I am not a financial planner, of course. I write about this topic because it is not only personally interesting to me, but because I see so many of my clients grapple with money issues in the middle of an emotionally trying time like divorce. Use this information as a starting point and as just that, information. If you need personal financial advice tailored just for you, you should consult a certified financial planner/advisor.
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