During divorce, it often feels like your time is consumed by a multitude of small details and tasks. You may feel like it’s enough work just trying to make it day-by-day. Now that the divorce is final, it’s time to ensure that you’re on a solid financial footing going forward.
We know that in many instances, women make less than men, dollar for dollar and according to the Social Security Administration are at a higher risk of falling into poverty during retirement – with around 20 percent of divorced women aged 65 or older currently living in poverty.
Here are five potential ways to improve your economic situation and relieve some of those financial stressors:
1. Find a great vocational coach: After the divorce process, you may feel exhausted and unmotivated. So how to move forward? One way can be through a vocational coach. A coach can help you define your strengths and identify potential career paths that may make a good fit for your personality and interests. A vocational coach can also help you develop or update your resume; help you refine your interviewing skills, and assist you as you negotiate your next position.
2. Upgrade or obtain new skills: For women who have stayed home, you do have value in the workforce! Employers are looking for mature, capable and responsible employees. You just may need to brush up on some skills. Talk to your local college to see if they offer grants or scholarships for women re-entering the workforce. Often you can find flexible schedules that allow you to take classes part-time or while your children are in school.
3. Explore starting your own business: According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, women-led businesses are one of the fastest growing types of the small businesses across the country. Many communities have small business organizations and programs that are designed to support women entrepreneurs. If you have longed to own your own business, contacting one of these organizations is a great first step. Made up of experienced professionals, they can also guide you in developing a business plan, balance sheet and cash flow statement. Although starting your own business can be a lot of work, it might be a great way to re-energize your passion.
4. Put together a comprehensive financial plan: Once your divorce settlement is finalized, sit down with a qualified financial advisor to review your current savings, future needs and cash flow situation. Having a financial plan will allow you to know if you are on track and a good advisor will also provide educational opportunities to help you learn more about finances either in a group setting or one-on-one.
5. Continue working with a team of professionals: This will include an accountant, estate planning attorney and financial advisor. They can help you understand where you are financially and can advise you on post-divorce next steps including changing beneficiaries, revising your will, setting up a new health care directive and tax advice around lump sum distributions or settlements.
Having a financial life on your own doesn’t have to be scary and can be a great opportunity to direct your money on your own terms. With the right support, you can have the independence and confidence to handle your budget, your debt and your finances just as well or better than when you were married.
Please note neither LPL Financial nor any of its representatives render legal advice. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.
Michelle Cortes-Harkins, MSW, CDFA™, CRPC®, Harkins Wealth Management, 401.278.4049
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