I was recently interviewed on impactmakersradio.com. The subject of the interview was: “Getting your financial house in order during divorce.”
We talked about budgeting for those going through divorce, and its importance for being successful both during and after divorce.
You can listen to the entire interview here.
At one point during the conversation, the host gave me a situation like this and asked me to address it:
Imagine a wife who’s been at home for 20 years. She has no credit and probably little income. What type of pitfalls should she be aware of?
It’s a great question because it’s a situation that’s all too common.
I answered the question by first addressing what this wife and mother should do. That advice went something like this:
- Figure out every cent of income from every source that her family gets every month.
- Figure out every cent her family pays out every month (i.e., every expense).
- By doing (2), she’ll figure out every debt her family has.
A debt is anything you make a payment on to pay it off. Examples of debts are: homes you are paying a mortgage on (even if it has positive equity), cars, timeshares, credit cards, etc.
- Figure out every asset her family has.
An asset is anything you own that you own outright and aren’t making a payment on.
- Make a bare-bones budget.
This budget doesn’t reflect what you normally live on during the marriage (in other words it doesn’t reflect your standard of living during the marriage). Instead, this budget is a “what is the least amount of money I can get by on” budget. By doing this, you know exactly what you and your family need to survive, and anything else you get is “extra” you can use for investments, etc.
The second aspect of the host’s question I addressed was credit, and this is what I wanted to expand on.
Let me start by saying I am not a fan of credit (i.e., debt) in general. I think it, for the most part, allows people to live beyond their means, make poor decisions, and then pay for them for years. It increases stress levels and has contributed to more marital breakups that I can count. It’s bad news.
With that in mind, I think the priority of anyone going through a divorce should be (1) to not use debt if possible, and (2) to get out of debt as quickly as possible.
I don’t really worry about things like credit scores much because I want people to focus on never using their credit score. I want them to pay off credit cards, lines of credit, mortgages, and all of these other things that have caused them so much pain and stress over the years.
Focus on getting unshackled, not on improving a score that will allow you to get more shackled.
Please, put together a monthly budget. Implement a plan to get out of debt and do it, even during your divorce. You and your family will change so much once your debt free.
You’ll have better relationships with your kids. You’ll have less stress. You’ll have more money in your pocket, and you be able to save to help your kids succeed.
You and your family will love the freedom a debt-free life brings.
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