Divorce is one of the toughest life events to navigate through. No one, at any point in their marriage, thinks that they have to plan for it; more often than not, when divorce happens it is a chaotic emotional mess. Surviving divorce and thriving in its aftermath is challenging, especially when it comes to finances. It is easy to get swept away in the emotional impact of a divorce and fail to plan financially for its aftermath. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. Here are five tips to ensure that you survive your divorce, and get a chance at a great second act.
Freeze in Place
You are going to be on an emotional rollercoaster throughout your divorce and will be faced with a myriad of unexpected decisions as you navigate through the breakup. If the divorce is unexpected and initiated by your partner, it will be especially challenging. You can only make things worse through impulsive life changes. Try to refrain from making drastic changes to your life. Don’t quit your job to embark on a new career, depriving yourself of critical cash flow and overall stability. Don’t purchase or sell major assets (unless you need to do so in support of the divorce). Don’t move to some exotic locale, or commit to some other life change that will distract you from successfully navigating through your divorce. Plan on retaining your status quo existence at least six months through the formal completion of your divorce, it will serve you well in the long run.
Check Your Credit
During the divorce process, more often than not you are going to have to rely on your credit to get you through tough times. You may have to rely on credit cards to pay bills, and will likely have to lease a room or apartment as you start your life as a newly single individual. You may even have to use credit to pay your attorney’s fees. All of these actions require decent credit, so check it as soon as you can. You are eligible for one free credit check annually, so check it out and make sure your credit is good enough to help you weather a challenging divorce.
Make a Budget
Your divorce is more likely than not going to be costly. You should talk to your lawyer or accountant, forecast what your expenses are going to be, and budget accordingly. More often than not, you are going to have to take aggressive actions to stay out of financial peril. Absent rare amicable circumstances plan on spending upwards of $20,000 to execute a successful divorce. Unless you have that sort of money laying around idly, meeting all of your financial requirements throughout the divorce process is going to be challenging, Be prepared to make potentially painful decisions each month about how you are going to meet all of your financial obligations. Consider liquidating assets, like stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, vacation properties, or excess vehicles to ensure you have a cash reserve on hand to cover your expenses. Be prepared to work longer hours, or even pick up a side hustle to buffer yourself during the divorce process.
Update Your Tax and Insurance Information
Once your divorce is final, more likely than not your tax situation is going to change substantially. You may need to increase your tax withholdings due to the change, based on no longer having dependents to claim when filing your tax return. Conversely, if your spouse made more money than you, you may be able to decrease your monthly withholdings at this point, and have money to meet new expenses each month. When the divorce is finalized, you will also want to review your life insurance policies and update your beneficiaries, since they may have changed.