Divorce can undermine your finances in ways that are both quite obvious and not so obvious. For instance, your tax filing status will change. So how can you get handle on what the future will hold for you regarding your finances, living expenses, career, and so forth? It is important to place the divorce in the context of the rest of your life. What will the future hold and what do you need to do to plan for it? Work with a financial advisor to get your fundamentals in order or to follow up on the work done by the Collaborative financial neutral. Ask and answer the following critical questions to shed light on your possible next steps:
- Have you made a budget for yourself now that you’re single, or do you understand the budget created in the Collaborative process?
- How much information do you currently have about your financial situation?
- What are your long-term financial goals?
- What are you doing to make those goals a reality? Do you need a referral to an appropriate financial advisor?
- How are you tracking those projects?
- Whom do you have in your corner to get this work done?
• How will your career goals and trajectory need to change in light of the divorce?
Maybe the divorce will lead to a profound shift regarding how you think about yourself, your career, your skill sets and what you want to do in the world. Or maybe you had been a stay at home parent or trailing spouse; you need a new path just out of financial necessity. In his book, Ready for Anything, David Allen offers the following instructive analogy:
“Ever had the feeling that you just woke up on a soccer field, being run over by bigger, meaner, uglier, and faster players, and you haven’t the vaguest idea what you’re doing there? You find yourself beaten, bloody, and muddy – and things seem to be getting worse!
To get a grip, what must you do? First, you have to accept what the game is and know where your goal is. When you can see your target and identify with getting there, you quickly lose interest in how beaten, bloody or muddy you are. Now you’re into the challenge! But even if you know where you’re headed, you will still feel paralyzed and at the mercy of forces larger than yourself, until you do one thing: determine the next move…
Success in life may have more to do with how fast you can accept and get started on the new game than with how good you got at playing any of the old ones.”
The divorce has, effectively, knocked you down and changed the playing field. So what are your new goals, and what are you going to do about them? Your Collaborative attorney can be an invaluable resource in terms of helping you find the support you need to make the transition out of divorce and into a successful post divorce life.
Get clear about how much money you have in the bank; what your assets and debts are; and what’s happening with your current job or career. Then get clear about where you want to go. This requires some imagination. Allow yourself to dream big. Then connect the dots. For instance, let’s say that you’ve been out of work for the past eight years raising two kids. You have limited resources now, but you realize that you want to become a well-known business coach for women. To get from where you are to where you want to be won’t happen overnight. But having clarity on your end points – where you are now, and where you want to be – can serve as a positive framework to guide your decision making.