When a Massachusetts marriage ends, women still tend to experience the larger drop in income, with women’s household income falling by 41% while men’s fall only 23%, according to research by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. If you have been considering moving forward with a divorce post-pandemic, listed below are five critical steps all women should take to be prepared financially for this stressful transition.
1. Reflect and take action
Take some time to reflect on your situation so that you can move to the acceptance phase of realizing your marriage has ended. During this time, you should research and gather a team of professionals you are going to need, such as a marriage counselor, divorce attorney, financial adviser and tax professional. Having a team of these professionals will empower you to move forward with the next phase of your life.
2. Open your own bank accounts
If you don’t already have checking and savings accounts in your own name, now is the time to open them. You should start by having your full paycheck auto deposited into your new accounts. During this time, you could just transfer the funds needed to contribute to the house expenses until the divorce is final. This is the first step of getting into the habit of managing your own finances.
3. Begin building your credit
You may have credit card accounts that are jointly held. Now it is time to build your own credit by getting a credit card in your name. This is also a good time to apply for your FICO credit score from all credit bureaus so that you will know how creditworthy you are when it comes to making those larges purchase, such as buying a home or a car.
4. Get frugal
As you may know, attorney’s fees are charged at an hourly rate, which can add up until your divorce is final. Also, the expenses of moving or possibly losing half of your things will require you to start over and repurchase necessary items, such as furniture and kitchen equipment. Going through the divorce process is the time to sock away every spare dime you have. Here are few tips on how to get started:
- Review your personal expenses and separate needs from wants. Perform a detailed inventory of your expenses. You may find that you spend too much on subscriptions or are making too many trips to Starbucks. Doing this may help you find the extra cash you need during this transition.
- Turn your emergency fund into a divorce fund by saving your tax refunds, bonuses or any other discretionary income you may have. Designate a separate bank account for this fund — one without a debit card, so you won’t be tempted to use it. Watching this fund grow can give you the empowerment and motivation to keep going.
- Stop using credit and turn to cash for your regular purchases. A low or zero balance on your credit card may be needed when you begin a life on your own. You will need to be in good credit standing to start your life as a single woman.
- Automate as many of your expenses as you can. By placing your expenses to be paid on autopilot keeps the bills paid on time and gives you more time for yourself with less worry about missing payment deadlines and incurring late fees.
5. Practice independence
Create a model cash flow spreadsheet with the details of your income and expenses and estimate what utilities, groceries, cable, etc. was going to cost while living on my own. This process will help you visualize what your new would look like, while also empowering you to believe that I can live on your own again.
Going through a Massachusetts divorce can be one of the most stressful and draining experiences of your life. But once it’s behind you, it can also be incredibly freeing. It’s important to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for a divorce, but preparing yourself financially is critical to your success and well-being.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.
Wealth Manager, Merit Financial Advisors