Excel Formula To Determine How Much To Take In Retirement Divorce Financial Planning: Take Control of Your Finances

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Divorce Financial Planning: Take Control of Your Finances

Do you know the details of your credit score or your social security report? Can you find your home, mortgage, life insurance policies, car titles, car insurance policies, tax returns for the past 5 years, brokerage and bank statements from the past year? Do you know what your spouse earns or how much is going into the annual 401k plan?

Divorcing is often an awakening when it comes to discovering what you know and don’t know about your family’s finances.

Managing your finances means not knowing which stocks, bonds or mutual funds to buy. It knows about your ownership (property); What debts (liabilities) you have; What is coming in (income) and what is going out (expenditure). It’s about paying attention to where your money is going and being managed.

You will be asked to produce a lot of financial paperwork and documents for the court, your attorney or mediator, and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. So, let’s begin:

Clear the workspace and gather all your details: bank, brokerage, credit cards, etc. Other supplies to gather: paper, pen or pencil, 3-ring binder, hole punch, index divider, highlighter and a sense of humor.

First, we’re going to tabulate your net worth (the difference between what you own and what you owe): List everything you own: houses, cars, brokerage accounts, life insurance, retirement accounts and their value (the Internet can help – try KBB.com and zillo.com). Then, list everything you owe: mortgage, car loan, credit card debt, school loans and their outstanding balances. Store this information in the first section of your 3 ring binder.

Next, discover the reality of not having a clue where your money is going (cash flow), or where you spent all that money. The easiest way to determine your cash flow is with a computer program such as Quicken or QuickBooks. A useful website is mint.com. If you don’t want to use a computer, this can be done with Excel, columns on lined paper or graph paper.

To budget, check your checkbooks, stubs and charge card statements. Give each expense a category and subcategory. Example: Utilities: Phone, Utilities: Cell Phone, Utilities: Cable and enter your expenses for each month. You will get the total for each subcategory as well as the total for the entire category of utilities. Don’t forget to enter your income, including income from child support and alimony. Print reports every month, and quarterly reports every 3 months. Place it in the cash flow or budget section of your binder.

It may take you several months to get a picture of your income and expenses, but it will form the basis of managing your finances as well as negotiating child support and alimony.

With a handle on your cash flow, you can look for areas where you can reduce spending or control spending. Try deducting the top 10% of your income as savings. Then, rework your spending to see if you can still manage it. Use whatever amount you can save:

• Get out of debt – pay off credit cards and loans

• Keep an emergency fund that is not invested in the stock market. Aim for at least 3 months of household expenses in savings. If possible, keep an additional 3 months in a short-term CD or money market account

• Take advantage of retirement plans

Place this information in your savings goals section of the binder.

Armed with this information, a consultation with a certified divorce financial analyst, early in the process, can help you face the challenges of divorce with more confidence and dignity than you might otherwise.

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