Finances are not high on most people’s interest list. But when you are going through a break-up sometimes burying your head in the sand when it comes to finances, only makes matters worse. If finances are one of the main things causing you stress during your break-up here are a few ideas to help.
1. Get proper legal advice, early. You might think that reaching into your pocket to see a lawyer, when you are already stressed about money is just going to make things worse. But finding out what your rights and obligations early on, can save you financial headaches down the track. Only a lawyer can give you advice on whether you entitled to spousal maintenance. Or child support. They can answer questions about who is responsible for the mortgage, utilities and school fees until you sort things out with your ex. If you can’t afford a private lawyer, there are government and community legal centres which might be able to help.
2. Investigate what government benefits you may be eligible for. Long queues and wait times might be a hassle, but government assistance exists for a reason – to help you when you need it. Contact your local Centrelink office to find out what you may be eligible for.
3. Collate financial documentation. If you are super organised, your financial records may be neatly indexed and stored in one place, in which case getting it together will be easy. If however your filing system leaves a little (or a lot) to be desired, it might be time to get a handle on your financial situation by collating documents like bank statements, superannuation statements, car insurance documentation, utility and other bills. This will give you a better idea of your overall financial position (what you own and owe) and your income and expenses and assist you in providing those facts and figures to your lawyer. If you don’t know what you have, your lawyer can help you with finding out from your ex.
4. Prepare a budget. The dreaded budget. If you don’t have one, now is the time to make one. With your financial documents sorted, make time to work through a template or spreadsheet of your weekly income and expenses. Look for areas you may be able to cut back if ends are not meeting.
5. Brainstorm ways to build on your current income or create a new income stream. You should seek legal advice before making any changes to your working arrangements. If your lawyer sees no issues in your case with you working more or exploring other ways to make money, brainstorm how you can increase your hours in your current job. Can you speak to your current employer about more hours? Can you reach out to friends or family if your kids are at home to mind them while you increase your hours? For new income, think about skills and interests you have which might be capable of generating an income. If you have been out of the workforce for a while research training opportunities or work with a divorce coach or careers advisor to explore possibilities.