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Divorce can be frightening, but it doesn’t need to befinancially devastating. Many couples don’t realize the avoidabletoll that divorce can have on financial health. You’re startingover – in many cases both personally and financially – and that canbe upending.

Budget for your newly single life

Break down your expenses and figure out your new householdincome. Are you responsible for alimony? How about child support?Identify and separate your needs from your wants. You may wantupgraded cable TV services, but there may not be room in yourbudget for both that service and a gym membership.

Take the time to match your new household income with yourcurrent expenditures. The resulting clarity will help you adjustyour new lifestyle to fit your means.

Become your own financial planner

Exert your financial independence. Close all joint accounts and,if you don’t have one already, open an individual account tore-establish your credit history.

Since your household income may be smaller as an individual thanit was as a married couple, be sure to use credit cardsresponsibly. Don’t charge more than you can afford to pay eachmonth. You don’t need to pay interest in order to obtain ormaintain good credit.

Don’t ignore debt

If you and your former spouse have any joint debt, help to payit off. In order to stay informed of any changes in your formerspouse’s payment history on joint debts, or to find new debt thatshould not appear in your name, request a copy of your creditreport from all three credit bureaus every few months.

You can contact creditors in writing and ask for your name to beremoved from any accounts that the divorce decree orders yourformer spouse to pay. The creditors are under no obligation to doso, but if you send them a copy of the decree and a polite letterasking to be removed, they could decide to honor your request.

Think about your future

Leave room in your budget for savings. Saving money foremergencies and retirement is extremely important.

If possible, put at least enough in your 401(k) to max out youremployer’s match. You can use an online calculator to find out howmuch you should ultimately be saving in order to achieve yourpersonal retirement goals. You should also put at least 10 percentof your annual income in an emergency savings account.

To access excellent planning tools and guides on saving andinvesting for retirement, visit the SBLI LearningCenter.

If you have children, you may want to consider buying a term orwhole-life insurance policy. Life insurance canprotect your children by providing them with financial supportshould they unexpectedly lose you. If you’re going to name yourchildren as the beneficiaries of your policy, make sure you alsoestablish a trust so the money is controlled and properly usedwhile they are younger than 18. It is not advisable to designateunder-aged children as the beneficiaries to a life insurance policyunless a trust is established.

This is a new start – both financially and personally. Take thetime to re-evaluate your finances and sort needs from wants. Nowmore than ever, you need to take charge of your financial futureand be ready for what lies ahead.