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5 Ways To Save Money On Divorce Attorney Costs

5 Ways To Save Money On Divorce Attorney Costs

The average national fee charged by divorce attorneys in the United States is $250 per hour and can be even much higher if you’re dealing with a senior lawyer or partner. The average cost of a divorce is $15,500 with a total of $12,800 in attorney fees. Here are a few tips to help you cut some of that cost down and save money on legal fees.

Keep It Strictly Business

Lawyers charge by the hour and their rates are expensive. Chances are that you’ll be billed for the full hour even if your conversation involves topics not related to your divorce. Try to avoid open-ended questions and keep your answers relevant to the case at hand. Get straight to the point and only address issues directly to your divorce. If you need emotional support or feel like venting, seeing a therapist will be much more affordable since you’ll only be responsible for the co-pay if you have health insurance.

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Research Divorce Procedures For Your State

You can save tons of money before you even have a consultation with a divorce lawyer by reading up on the legal process and gathering the documents required in order to file for divorce proceedings in your state. For example, if you’re a resident of California you can visit the California Courts website and obtain information on how to file a divorce, legal separation or annulment. Having a basic idea of the process will enable you to focus on the questions that really matter when you speak with your attorney. Remember, they bill by the hour so you don’t want to spend that time asking questions to which you can easily find the answer for by Googling.

Talk To Your Attorney’s Associate Or Legal Assistant

Lawyers bill for phone calls which means that it will be much more cost effective to speak with a secretary or a junior associate with a lower hourly rate. If you have a clerical question about a particular form, ask the legal secretary or assistant. Make sure to ask for the hourly rates of all of the staff helping you with your case. All rates should also be included in your retainer agreement.

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Work With Your Spouse

The thought of sitting down with your soon to be ex may seem unpleasant but it can help you save thousands of dollars. Try to come to an agreement on the value of your assets, debts and income. A real estate agent will be able to assist you appraising the value of your home. The cost of vehicles can be determined by consulting with Kelley Blue Book.

If you aren’t able to come to the same conclusion, you’ll have to undergo a process called formal discovery which means both parties will ask each other questions via each other’s divorce lawyers. This will only result in additional charges on your attorney bill.

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Keep Phone Conversations Short

Keep in mind that time spent over the phone with your divorce attorney gets billed in 6-minute increments. For example, if your attorney bill is at $200 an hour that’s $20 per 6-minute increment and a 7-minute conversation will be charged $40 for 2 full increments. You would have paid the same $40 for an 11 or 12-minute conversation. Write down your questions ahead of time and try to cover them in one conversation instead of several, which will end up being more expensive. Make sure to find out what

type of incremental billing your divorce attorney uses prior to hiring since this can vary (some attorneys bill in 12-minute increments). You may want to consider asking questions via e-mail which can be more cost-effective and just as efficient.

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Jacqueline Cao

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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