Is retirement possible, post-divorce?

“Can you help me with budgeting?”

In about 75 percent of marriages, the husband handles much of the finances, especially the investments and taxes. The wife may handle a portion of the budget, such as the groceries or paying bills.

But when divorce comes, you’re on your own.

Well, not completely. I can help.

And I’ll start with this little article. Because I’m often asked by women who are facing the prospect of divorce, about facing the prospect of budgeting.

Forced preparation

The whole idea of budgeting is scary and intimidating to many women. It implies living your life according to some kind of unfamiliar system. There’s the fear of not having enough money for what you want… or what you need.

Divorce laws in Arizona, in a strange way, kind of come to your rescue here. Maybe that’s over-stating it; more accurately, they give you a sink-or-swim-push-into-the-deep-end, whether you like it or not.

What I’m referring to here—and I’ll be talking about this all the time in these articles, because I simply can’t stress its importance enough—is the AFI, or Affidavit of Financial Information. It’s a form that both the husband and wife are required to complete, right at the beginning of the divorce process.

It asks you (and your spouse) to list all your income, expenses, assets (what you have) and liabilities (what you owe); notably, it requires that you list all of your “forward-looking expenses.”

“Forward-looking expenses.” What the heck are those?

That’s what you’ll be paying for things like housing, insurance, food, and so on… in the future. After the divorce.

No, the AFI does not come with its own, complimentary crystal ball.

It also doesn’t come with any financial help from your attorney; that’s neither their job nor their expertise.

Looking ahead

So how is any of this, as I hinted above, good news? It certainly sounds scary and intimidating.

Fact is, no one can predict the future. And yet you’re required to list all of these “future” expenses, meaning: you must make your best educated estimate that you can right now.

Voilà. That’s a budget.

Yep. The AFI effectively forces you to create a budget, right from the get-go.

If this were simple and straight-forward, there would be no need for me. Or this article. But here we are, and you’ve probably realized that it is critical that this document protects your best interests going forward and that having an expert’s help is key to getting it right.

By the way, the AFI is a legal document. It’s not some academic exercise. It’s what the court or the mediator will look at (both yours and your spouse’s) and use to determine your reasonable need for spousal maintenance, a.k.a. alimony.

So how do you do this… with my help?

It all adds up

Let’s start with some basics. Where will you be living, post-divorce? This generates a cascade of questions, such as:

  • Will you be in the same house?
  • Will you move?
  • Will you buy another house? If so, where?
  • Will you rent instead?
  • Will you rent for, say, a year or two, and then purchase a new place on your own?
  • How much would each of these scenarios cost? What would they amount to, in terms of a down payment or security deposit, monthly rent or mortgage, interest, insurance, taxes, maintenance, and repairs?

And this is just the housing.

Good news: I know all about this stuff, and have helped women just like you to wrap their heads around these kinds of questions and arrive at sensible answers.

So I can help you with the research and working up numbers. If you’ve never budgeted before, I can help you, for example, to scrutinize your last three months’ worth of credit-card statements and see what you’re spending on different categories.

And if you’ve already been doing, say, the grocery spending, you’ve already gotten your feet wet with budgeting; I’ll help you expand this to all you do.

And then I’ll help you plug into whatever level of technology you’re most comfortable with. I, for one, love Quicken, and can help you set it up. Or if you’re an Excel person, I have templates I can give you. What if you’re simply the pencil-and-paper type? No problem. As I said, I’ll work with you to help with scary-sounding things like “cashflow forecasting.”

And guess what? This new skill set, of budgeting, which you’ll necessarily master, is empowering. It’s a major step on the path toward post-divorce happiness, which, trust me, really exists.

Let me help you get there. Contact me today for help with budgeting, and so much more.

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