“Why didn’t I pay more attention to our family finances?”
I frequently hear this from women who find themselves facing divorce. This is the time for women to start to make constructive and knowledgeable decisions about their money and their future. It’s never too late to get started.
Here are some steps you can take to get financial prepared for your divorce. (Frankly it’s good advice even if you aren’t facing divorce)
Pay Attention to the Household Finances
You should attend meetings with insurance agents, accountants, financial planners and lawyers. You should also look over monthly bank statements and credit-card bills. Ask about your husband’s company benefits including bonuses, other “perks”, company pensions, and other savings plans, etc. Keep a list of all bank and brokerage accounts and insurance policies.
Don’t lose your Financial Identity
You always want to maintain your own credit identity. Check if your credit cards are in your own name or if you are simply an authorized user as a lack of credit history can work against you. You should have three bank accounts (his, hers and ours) and maintain separate credit cards.
Keep Your Skills Fresh
While you might welcome the chance to stay home with your kids, the longer you’re out of the work force, the harder it can be to jump back in. Women often face lowball wages or lower job titles when they try to return to work after a long hiatus.
Save for Retirement
Many married women don’t make retirement-saving a priority. If the husband is the primary wage earner, the wife often trusts her spouse to save enough for their collective golden years. A woman spending her retirement savings, (sometime all on legal fees), is particularly distressing considering that women, on average, live six years longer than men.
Get Financial Guidance
When women are going through a divorce, they need to determine which assets will help them pay their bills and reach their long-term goals. Too many women fight for the home to avoid uprooting their children, only to find that they don’t have the cash flow to pay for it.
Divorce is not only the end of a marriage but it is the breakup of an economic unit. Financial awareness will go a long way to help you feel more in control and better equipped to make reasoned decisions.