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Taking control of your finances after a divorce

In Pennsylvania, when the property is divided, the custody arrangements are taken care of and the whole divorce is finalized, some divorced parties may feel like they are left on a financial island. Parties that grew accustomed to their ex-spouse handling all the finances may now feel that they have been thrown into a tailspin because they don't know what to do with which account. Budget? Savings? Where to begin?

The first thing to do is take a deep breath; anyone is capable of managing their own finances after a divorce with the right tools and a few tips. A critical step is determining all the assets an individual retains after a divorce. This includes investments, property, alimony or any other means of income. This number will help an individual determine their budget.

Laying out a post-divorce budget can feel overwhelming, but creating a spread sheet of all monthly expenses is a good place to start. Be sure to include living expenses, liabilities, food, lunch money for the kids, gas, everything.

The budget can aid in determining if an individual can afford purchases that aren't necessities, as well as aid in configuring a good amount to save each month in the event an unforeseen expense arises.

If an individual has never even balanced a check book in the entirety of their life, they may wish to ask for a trusted recommendation of a professional to aid in the process. Making the phone calls to the right people is a good first step.

The most important thing to remember is to take the process one step at a time. Don't feel like you need to have your budget determined until you have a firm grasp on all liabilities and assets. Soon you will be on your way to confidently running your finances and starting a new life.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Why You Need To 'Speak Money' After Divorce," Honoree Corder, Sept. 4, 2012

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