Clearing out divorce financial clutter and finding the magic
Divorce is a difficult process, so wouldn’t you like to make divorce finance easier on yourself? It’s 2019! New year, new ways to develop a brighter financial future.
A great way to start off the new year is to get rid of the clutter from last year. Emotional, financial, physical. Maybe you’ve read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? Whether you have or not, some of the principles in her book also apply to clearing up financial clutter too. (Just not the part about how to fold clothes properly.)
“The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.” — Marie Kondo
Know what you want from your divorce.
We’ve discussed this before. Now, in order to get rid of clutter, you need to be able to determine if something is moving you forward, to a solid future. Or is it backward, into resentment and the feeling of helplessness?
If you’re not sure, use Kondo’s question: does it spark joy?
For example, you want your kids to be happy and feel cared for. That would be joyful for you. What moves you toward this goal?
Co-parenting, probably, even if you’re not real thrilled with the other parent right now. You might consider mediation or collaborative divorce instead of litigation.
What kind of relationship do you want to have with your soon-to-be-ex (stbx)? Maybe not right now, but in the future. Would you like to be able to share your child’s wedding with them? Do you want to be able to be in the same room without wanting to throw something at them? (No judgment. Also, this is why we’re looking at the future.)
Financially, what do you want? Think big picture on this one. In other words, not necessarily that you want to stay in the house. Doing so might make things worse for you financially down the road. Instead, maybe you want a safe place for your kids that is near a school and your family, who can then help out with child care.
Do you want to have a job? Your kids, if you have them, will leave the nest eventually, as part of a healthy transition to adulthood. If you have a career or a job, it can help with that empty nest feeling later.
Do you want to feel confident you’re financially secure?
You can’t depend on someone else for your own financial well-being.
What does that mean for you?
Look at your clutter
What are you carrying around from 2018? Emotional baggage, resentment, a desire to “get back” at your former spouse? These are perfectly natural feelings, so don’t be ashamed for having them. But be aware of them, and don’t make decisions based on them.
Can you set your emotions aside and look clearly at your goals? If not, you might need someone to help you process that emotion and work through it so you can make better decisions for your family.
If you’re able to look at your situation objectively, that’s great! You’re ready to get rid of the clutter.
For example, you look back and realize you have resentment against your stbx. Again, totally normal. But, you also know it’s not serving you any longer. One of your goals may be to maximize the amount of money you can get from the settlement. Fighting over who gets the $200 cabinet is only dragging it out longer and costing more, in time and fees.
Acting on your resentment by digging your heels in on inexpensive property isn’t moving you forward to your goal. So you stop insisting on the cabinet, and save yourself money (and time).
One of the principles in Marie Kondo’s book is to have gratitude for items, even as you’re giving them away. You might thank them for their service to you. (I personally have difficulty thanking inanimate objects, but I do see the point.)
Your resentment probably did help you in some way. It might have eased the pain of the divorce for a little while, for example.
So you can thank it for being there for you, and let it go.
What kinds of financial clutter do you have?
Divorce financial clutter comes in all kinds of forms. It might literally be pieces of paper, like bank statements or tax returns. It might be that you don’t know how the household works in terms of finances. You might have the mindset that you’re no good with money because you’re bad at math/the wrong gender/not interested/whatever.
Pieces of paper are easy. If they’re bank statements or anything else that your attorney or CDFAⓇ professional has requested, you can forward them along. You can scan them so you’re no longer dealing with actual paper, and then shred the papers themselves. It’s not secure enough just to throw them away.
If you don’t know how the household works financially, there are a few things that you need to know. This information is on the statements that you collect for your divorce professionals, and will be collated on your disclosures. So that can get you up to speed pretty quickly.
Is your mindset is that you’re no good with finances for whatever reason? This is clutter that you really don’t need.
How can you be financially secure if you don’t know how your finances work?
There’s no fancy math involved, and you’ll be more confident once you get a handle on your money.
Which is more stressful: Having no idea how to survive? Or knowing how much you need to make to ensure that you have money for groceries and everything your kids need every week?
Does knowing that you have a handle on your finances spark joy? OK, maybe not exactly joy, but at least contentment? Or would you prefer to be at the mercy of people who do know how it works?
Know what sparks joy and use that to declutter your divorce finances. Or what might spark joy for you in the future, if you’re not quite there right now.
It’s pretty normal to have things pile up, especially during the divorce process. Now is a good time to clear out your clutter, so you can have a financially stable future.
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