Within a marriage, a man and a woman’s financial circumstances are generally pretty much equal. But if a divorce occurs, the woman’s situation tends to be somewhat more challenging than that of her ex-spouse. And that’s why, during this major life transition, you may want to meet with a professional financial advisor to go over your spending needs and your cash flow, so that you know what you absolutely need today — and how you can plan for tomorrow.
Before we get into some possible steps you can take, let’s look at some of the reasons that women may fare worse than men, financially speaking, following a divorce:
• Lower income — The average woman’s family income drops by 37 percent after divorce, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In many cases, divorce exacerbates a situation in which women were already trailing men in earnings.
• Smaller retirement accounts — The average balance on women’s defined contribution plans (such as 401(k) plans) is only 60 percent of men’s average balances, according to LIMRA, a financial services research organization.
Of course, “averages” are just that — averages. But whether you recognize yourself in the above numbers or not, consider these suggestions:
• Create an emergency fund. Try to put six months’ to a year’s worth of living expenses in a liquid account. Once you’ve established this emergency fund, you won’t have to dip into long-term investments to pay for unexpected costs, such as an expensive car repair, a new furnace or a large medical bill.
• Above all, get some help. As mentioned above, now is a good time to meet with a financial adviser. And if you don’t have much experience in managing your finances, you may even find it helpful to work with a trust company, which can collaborate with your financial provider to manage your assets and also provide a variety of other functions, including bill payment and record keeping. A trust company’s services can prove especially valuable to you and your family should you ever become incapacitated.
By following the above suggestions, you can at least help keep your financial ship in calmer waters.
This article was written by Edward Jones for use by Laura Evans, Edward Jones financial adviser of Richmond Hill.