If you’re a Massachusetts woman and thinking about moving forward with a divorce, one of the most important decisions you can make is to become more involved in your family’s finances. Too many women are not involved in financial decision-making, which can seriously handicap them during and after a divorce. In other words, do not underestimate the importance of financial literacy in this process.
A recent article in Forbes magazine discussed how serious this lack of financial information can be. A survey commissioned by Fidelity found that a whopping 25 percent of women play no part in the family’s financial decision-making process. Despite this lack of participation, 90 percent of women will eventually find themselves solely responsible for the finances after they are single.
Resolving to make financial literacy a priority should therefore be a critical goal for women who may be lacking in that department. This lack of financial knowledge can occur equally across all income brackets and education levels, and it happens when women are content to leave money matters to their husbands. While a division of labor is perfectly acceptable, everyone should be involved at some level with the household financial issues.
To get on a better path, start small. Begin by figuring out the household’s annual income, and then look at expenses to try to get a sense of what the monthly budget looks like. How much are you paying for housing, for food, utilities, etc ? After that is covered, look into assets and debts. What does your family own? What does it owe? This will be crucially important information during the course of the divorce and also in your newly single life after the divorce is finalized.
When it comes to financial literacy, ignorance is not bliss. Being uninformed about your finances can have serious consequences in a divorce, and it could allow your most financially sophisticated spouse to hide assets or con you into agreeing to a bad deal. It is far better to take some initiative now to start laying the foundation for a new, financially independent life.
Source: “The Most Important New Year’s Resolution A Divorcing Woman Can Make,” by Jeff Landers, published at Forbes.com.