Budgeting and Finance
If you were the spouse that handled the household finances, then you are ahead of the game. You know what it’s like to pay bills when they are due based the available income. If not, then you will have to learn how to do this. My husband handled all the household finances. I didn’t even know how much the mortgage, utilities, car notes, or insurance were. My saving grace was that I was an accountant by trade. I paid other people’s bills for a living. So, I knew how it was done. As fifty-something-year-old women, we need to ask ourselves if we really can afford to or want to keep the house. By this time, the kids are usually grown. Often, women want to hold onto the home for sentimental reasons. Heck let it go! Get something you can afford if need be. We had a big front and back yard. I was almost sixty years old and had never cut grass in my life. I was too old to learn and didn’t want to worry about getting someone else to do it. I gave my ex the house and never looked back. Whatever you decide, you will need a budget.
When preparing a budget, list all sources of monthly income first. Then list expenses. The difference between the two will let you know what is left over after the bills have been paid. There is a spreadsheet in the resources section for you to use. Your budget may need to be revised periodically. If you plan to remain in the family home the expenses will remain pretty much the same, so that portion of the budget will be a no-brainer. The expenses that will probably change will be groceries, entertainment, car insurance, and health insurance. Utilities will probably remain roughly the same. Income is another matter. If you are working, your bring home pay or net income will go in this column. Check the difference number at the bottom to see where you stand. Do you need to look for a part-time job or set up a side business? Are there any expenses you can cut out? Do you expect to get any alimony, etc. from your spouse and how much? As you find out more, you can update the income and expense sections. Don’t forget to include any expenses that may be paid quarterly or yearly.
Are you considering moving to an apartment, a rental house, or buying another home? Will the apartment include any utilities? Will a deposit be required? If so, how much? If you don’t plan to stay in the marital home, renting until the divorce is final is probably a good idea. Talk to a lawyer about this. You can probably ask the utility companies what the average monthly bill for the rental unit ran. The landlord can probably give you an idea if you decide to rent a house. He or she has to pay the keep the utilities on while they are showing the unit. They probably have a good idea of the cost from previous experience. Generally, when buying a house, this information can also be found out. It was in my paperwork. Add a miscellaneous expense line and make it roughly 5% of your total expenses. This can be adjusted up or down. Always put something away into a savings account. Try to put the same amount each pay period. You will get a feel for this as you go. Try to keep a credit card for emergencies only such as car repairs. Get the name of a good handyman. Oftentimes they don’t take credit cards, and this is one of the ways your cash can be depleted. I found out the hard way. Let them work on broken-down items and not on you. Men can smell a vulnerable woman a mile away and will try to take advantage. Women are pretty bruised during a breakup, especially during a separation or divorce.
There can also be a tendency to spend more when we are unhappy or trying to fill a void. Watch out for this. I speak from experience. I lost weight and went on a spending spree. I paid for it later. I couldn’t help myself. Everything seemed to look good on me. My savings account took a brutal beating behind this even though I did look pretty. I took trips and my credit cards also took a beating. Heck, it isn’t every day you get to see Steve Harvey in LA or Wendy Williams in New York. Vegas will never be the same after my visit there! I was broke and in debt, but I had no regrets. I had found my waistline again. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do this. It can be stressful replenishing your savings account and/or paying off/down your credit cards. It may be helpful to seek the assistance of a financial advisor especially if you expect to receive or have received any retirement funds from your ex or soon to be ex. Also, ask your financial advisor about annuities as you near retirement age. Attend seminars that explain social security benefits that you are entitled to which include your own as well as your ex’s or soon to be ex. Resist the temptation to take money from your 401K or similar account if you have not reached age 59 ½. There is a 10% penalty in addition to the taxes owed.