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Regain Your Financial Power in Marriage and Divorce

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The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. – Alice Walker.
Do you manage the finances in your household? Does your spouse? Do you share the responsibility equally? If it is anything less than equal, ask yourself why. You may first claim it’s convenience–they are at the office and can write the checks, manage the accounts, meet with our financial advisor, etc. But, if you dig a little deeper–stay with me now–is there something else?

Do you believe you aren’t good with money? Does your spouse believe that about you and reminds you of this? Do you spend either too little money in fear of poverty or too much using a “throw caution to the wind” approach? If so, consider how you can change that by removing the element of fear. Try to shed all of your childhood beliefs around money.. Raised poor or rich you, probably grew up with some idea about it. Perhaps you learned It is bad form to talk about it, it’s the husband’s job to manage it, you never expected to work for more than “pin” money, etc. Whatever the root of your money management beliefs, and whether you stay married or divorce, this dynamic should change. It is still a startling and terrible fact that many women, when confronted with the death of a spouse or a divorce, are unprepared to manage their own assets and liabilities.
It’s not because we can’t. Obviously. It’s often because we haven’t done it. Inaction sometimes turns into feelings of “can’t” rather than “don’t.” Stop that pattern now. Sit down with your spouse and find out the facts. Ask to participate in monthly bill paying sessions, quarterly sessions with a financial planner and larger discussions about how you will manage your assets together. Put simply: you cannot afford not to do so. Your own future, married, divorced or widowed may depend upon it.
In order to implement a plan of action, take these three simple steps to involve yourself with your money:

  • Make a plan to discuss your money with your spouse;
  • Make a plan to understand your assets with a financial planner or other professional, including budget tools, if offered;
  • Make a plan to divide or share the monthly bill paying obligations with your spouse and be aware of budget numbers. Participate in setting and keeping budgets.

Taking these simple steps will give you confidence and strength in your marriage. If you are faced with the death of your spouse or even divorce, you will be far better able to participate in a fair division of assets and a clear understanding of them. Understanding is the beginning of participation. Participation allows you to have power. Equality around money in a marriage allows spouses to have more respect for the contributions of their partner. It also allows you to prepare for a future over which you may not have total control. Don’t cede your power by default or inaction. It’s your life. Make sure you play a role in managing it

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