Getting divorced is daunting- not only emotionally but financially. Not knowing what your cash flow will be and not having familiarity with your finances is one of the leading causes of anxiety during the divorce process. I asked Liz Levy, the CFO of Judith Heft & Associates, LLC, a financial and lifestyle concierge, to provide her top five tips on organizing your financial life after divorce.
1. Know your daily money management. Making a fresh start should begin with your finances. Start with your daily money management. Select a system that works for you, whether it is an Excel template or one of those cool new apps or programs that do all the work for you, such as Quicken. Daily management of your money provides you with your cash flow--your income and expenses per month. It affords you the knowledge of your spending and allows you the opportunity to determine what expenses are no longer necessary. When you are going through the divorce process, your divorce attorney should be reviewing your expenses with you to determine your needs, and discuss how breaking up an economic family unit into two separate households will be different, but manageable.
2. Create a spending plan. We never use the word ‘budget’ – it is right up there with the word ‘diet’ in our dictionary. Spending plans are long-term financial lifestyle changes you make that are realistic. To create a spending plan, you start with the knowledge of your daily money management; then analyze your discretionary spending; and finally, you determine the expenses you feel comfortable with monthly based on your income. This spending plan may change over time as you project your retirement and future spending needs.
3. Build your own team. You deserve a fresh start with your best foot forward. You need to build yourself a network that is dedicated to your specific needs as a newly independent person. This includes an accountant (not only to do your taxes but also to discuss tax saving strategies), trust and estate attorney (to revise your will and create a health care proxy), wealth manager (to devise an investment plan and invest your assets), and insurance broker professional (see #5). Using every tool available to you is self-care and money well spent for good advice.
4. Embrace the change. If you have changed your name with the divorce decree, embrace the change proactively. Don’t delay in contacting your banks, the Social Security office, passport office, and DMV, as well as your insurance advisor to change your name on your important documents. In addition, you may want to designate new beneficiaries of your various bank and brokerage accounts.
5. Review your insurance needs. Establish a life insurance strategy, which includes an income replacement assessment to support your loved ones. Review your home insurance, umbrella insurance, health and disability policies to make sure your coverage is up to date and determine whether your policies are serving you well.
Liz Levy is the CFO at Judith Heft & Associates, LLC (JHA), https://judithheft.com. For over 25 years, JHA has been providing busy individuals with customized financial and lifestyle services. Whether you are looking for a professional, personal, or financial organizer, need a bookkeeper or require a daily money manager, JHA can help by simplifying your life and giving you more time to do what you want to do. Liz can be reached at Liz@judithheft.com or 203.978.1858.