Consider some common questions I hear in my practice:
• “Can I afford to take that $5,000 vacation with my kids?”
• “Can I afford to lease that new car?”
• “Can I afford to see my kids finish their private-school education?”
Without someone like me (I’m a CPA, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® professional) on your side, you can’t answer questions like these with any degree of confidence.
Because “what you can afford” needs to be defined. And defining it means “creating a plan.”
Let me clarify:
• Can you afford that $5k vacation? Sure, you might have that money in your account right now. But will it mean that you need to work three more years before you retire?
• Can you afford to lease that new car? Sure, you might easily qualify for the payments, but would you actually come out ahead if you purchased it?
• Can you afford to keep funding your kids’ private-school education? Sure, you might be able to find the funds now… but will this mean you need to end up living with your kids 20 years from now?
Ouch. What a bunch of painful what-if’s.
You don’t like that discomfort, that uneasiness. This is why so many (too many) women avoid these kinds of conversations.
But, believe it or not, there’s a really easy way out. Yep: It’s that financial plan. When you create a financial plan, you can readily, easily, and confidently answer any of those kinds of questions I listed above. And if you get an answer like, “Sure, I can afford that, and it won’t have a negative impact on my future,” then you can truly enjoy those expenditures, in the moment.
A moving target
To be clear: It’s not like I have some formula, or algorithm, for someone “of your age” and/or “your earning power” and/or “your amount of spousal maintenance,” blah, blah, blah. To the contrary, the financial plan I would draw up for you, and with you, starts from a blank sheet, and is based entirely on your values. What you want. What you need. What you consider to be reasonable for things like “acceptable level of lifestyle,” or “what age you’d like to settle down,” and so on.
And for every what-if I pose, you’ll get real information, based on your answers. That means that we can play with different what-if’s and different scenarios, and then you get to choose the combination of factors, and lifestyle decisions, that suit you best. There’s nothing forced on you. It’s all your own design—filtered through my financial expertise.
And things change. Kids age out. (But parents still give them money.) Income sources like child support and spousal maintenance go away. You get to Social Security age. Stuff like that.
Which is why the financial plan that I create with you is not carved in stone. We’ll revisit it, and update it, regularly, especially when you reach various financial milestones in your life.
Don’t wing it. Don’t hope-and-pray. Approach your post-divorce financial life with confidence. That means having a plan. And that means contacting me.