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7 Ways To Protect Your Assets During A Divorce

7 Ways To Protect Your Assets During A Divorce

According to statistics, nearly 40-50% of marriages in the U.S end up in a divorce. Besides being immensely stressful and emotionally draining, a divorce can also wreak havoc on your finances for many years to come. Here are a few tips to help you protect your assets during a divorce.

1. Assess Your Liquid Assets

It’s easy to become emotional during a divorce and attach sentimental value on keeping the house or car. Instead, you’ll want to focus on assessing the value of joint liquid assets such as savings accounts and investment portfolios. Receiving the house during a divorce proceeding may not be as financially advantageous as it may seem initially if you can’t afford the property taxes and upkeep costs. Finding a buyer can also be a hit or miss depending on the current real estate market.

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Make sure to assess the value of your assets correctly. For example, the value of an investment portfolio of stocks and bonds may fluctuate drastically over time. The value of a vehicle will also depreciate with time. You may want to focus more on assets that are less depreciable depending on how risk averse you are.

2. Consider Taxes When Appraising The Value Of Your Assets

Many people going through a divorce appraise their assets incorrectly because they forget to consider the tax implications on investment and retirement accounts. A retirement account is worth less than the stated balance because of the deferred tax payment owed upon withdrawal. If a party chooses early withdrawal, he or she will also be hit with a penalty in addition to taxes.

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3. Protect Your Credit Rating

Both parties will be held responsible for joint account credit card debt accrued during the marriage. It’s a good idea to pay this debt off and close the accounts as soon as possible.

You will also want to obtain a credit report from the three main reporting agencies; Equifax, Trans Union and Experian. This will let you know the status of each account on your credit report including if it is a joint or individual account, the current balance and payment history.

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If you have joint accounts you’ll want to pay them off and close the account. If you’ve added your spouse as an authorized user on any individual credit cards, you may want to contact your creditors and have them removed as a user.

4. Look For Hidden Assets

We like to think of our spouses as honest people but it’s actually quite common for individuals to hide their assets throughout the duration of a marriage. A business owner may add a friend on the payroll in order to hide income. Securities may have been sold without being accounted for.

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According to Los Angeles divorce lawyer Steven Fernandez, “Lying during divorce proceedings is against the law. When someone signs a Financial Affidavit, which is a formal disclosure of finances, he or she is swearing under perjury to disclose any and all information pertaining to income, assets, and expenses.”

5. Revise Your Will & Designated Beneficiary

If you don’t want your ex to receive any funds in case of your demise you’ll need to update your will. Getting divorced doesn’t automatically void your existing will. You may also want to update beneficiary information for any retirement, life insurance, and investment accounts if you don’t want your ex inheriting all of your hard earned assets.

6. Be Careful When Dating

Never move in with someone you’re dating before your divorce is finalized since this may affect spousal and child support payments. A judge may deem you as having more money available if you are splitting living costs with another person. If you do plan to date, keep it discreet. Dating during divorce proceedings may also fan the fire and cause your spouse to become more emotional and less cooperative.

7. Change All Important Passwords

Change the log-in and password for your online banking account. Your spouse may have access to old passwords and may be logging in to see what you’re up to and keep track of your expenditures in order to use it against you in court. Some spouses go as far as installing a key logger in order to monitor their ex’s online activity. Protect yourself by changing your password and installing anti-virus softwares that will be able detect spyware.

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Jacqueline Cao

Entrepreneur

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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