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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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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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