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Financial spring cleaning checklist

Every year, at about this time, I do some spring cleaning — both of my home and my finances. I won’t bore you of the details of cleaning out my garage, but I will tell you that where my money is concerned, I find that once a year is the perfect time to take a look at where I stand in a variety of areas and make sure that I’m setting myself up for success and covering my bases for the future. I take a look at my credit. I check in with my emergency fund. And I make sure that I have protections in place — an estate plan and adequate insurance coverage — to keep the financial life I’ve worked so hard to build safe for my children and my husband should something happen to me. Here, I’m sharing my checklist with you, in hopes that you’ll incorporate it into your spring cleaning efforts this year:

Every year, at about this time, I do some spring cleaning — both of my home and my finances.

Every year, at about this time, I do some spring cleaning — both of my home and my finances.

  1. Credit. Using the website annualcreditreport.com, you can pull a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year, for a total of three reports annually. I recommend spreading them out every few months, so you always have a recent picture of where you stand. Go over the report carefully, making sure there aren’t any errors. And note that while your credit report won’t contain your score, you can get free scores these days from websites like CreditKarma.com and SavvyMoney.com.
  2. Emergency fund. The rule of thumb here is to have three to six months worth
    of expenses in a liquid savings account — one that you can access easily in case of — yes — an emergency. If you’re in a dual income family you may be able to lean toward the lower end of that rage; single income people and families should put away more because you don’t have another salary to fall back on if you lose your job. Keep in mind that this account is for necessary expenses only, so when you factor in how much money you need, consider things like the electric bill and car payment, not cable and your gym membership.
  3. An estate plan. A standard estate plan includes four documents: a will, a living will, a medical power of attorney and a durable power of attorney. All are important, but if you have children, a will is a must-have: It names guardians for them, a decision that could otherwise be made by a court. A living will outlines your wishes for care while you’re alive, a medical power of attorney gives someone — usually a family member or close friend — the ability to make medical decisions for you, and a durable power of attorney gives the same rights to someone who can make financial decisions on your behalf. An estate planning attorney will create all four documents for your for around $1,000. If you don’t have them, that’s your assignment for this year. Next year — and every year thereafter — you’ll want to go over them to make sure they’re still up to date. Life events like a birth, death, divorce or new business can be cause for a revision.
  4. Insurance. Here’s the rule of life insurance: If you have someone — and it can be a spouse, elderly parent, or child — who depends on your income, you need it. If you don’t, you don’t. How much you need depends on how much you’d like to replace for them. Do you want to pay for college? Pay off your mortgage? I have a calculator on my website to help you decide. Then you want to look at disability insurance, which you may have through work but the coverage may not be enough. In general, you want to aim to cover at least 60% of your income. Finally, consider long-term care insurance if you’re around mid-fifties and you have too many assets to spend down and qualify for Medicaid, but not enough assets to self fund care. Generally, that window is between $500,000 and $3 million, not including your home.
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4 ways to max out your retirement contributions

The best way to max out your retirement contributions is little by little. Here, a strategy.

The best way to max out your retirement contributions is little by little. Here, a strategy.

This year, the IRS has increased limits on 401(k) and other employer retirement accounts: Instead of the $17,500 employees could contribute in 2014, that limit has been bumped up to $18,000. Those 50 or older can contribute an extra $6,000, making a total contribution of $24,000. The limit on IRA plans — $5,500 for those under 50, $6,500 for those 50 or older — remains the same.

You may be reading this and thinking those limits don’t apply to you — you’ll never be able to save enough to reach them. But don’t sell yourself short. The best way to max out your retirement contributions is little by little. Here, a strategy:

  1. Increase your contributions by one or two percent each year. It’s a small enough amount that you’re unlikely to notice it missing from your paycheck, but big enough that you’ll very quickly reach the 10% of your income that I recommend putting away on a regular basis. If you earn a raise annually, that’s the time to increase your contribution — you won’t miss the money because you never had it in the first place. And don’t forget that employer contributions, like matching dollars, count.
  2. Put away a windfall. If you get a bonus, put it straight into your retirement fund. Sell an old computer, your old smart phone, or get a discount on your cable bill? Same deal. These little small amounts may not seem like they’ll make a difference, but bit by bit they’ll add up, particularly when you factor in investment gains. If you receive a tax refund each year, approach your HR about adjusting your withholding so you don’t get that back in one chunk in April, but instead it is contributed to your retirement fund on a monthly basis.
  3. Make sure your money is working for you. That means choosing the right investments for your age, risk tolerance and investment goals. You want to take more risk when retirement is far off, and gradually lower your exposure to risk as you approach retirement age. A financial advisor can help you set up an asset allocation plan, and help you rebalance it as needed. If you’d rather do it on your own, there may be investments available that adjust risk as you approach your retirement age. Inquire with your plan for more information. You’ll still want to check in on them regularly to make sure they’re performing well.
  4. Finally, get a handle on where you stand. I list this last, but it should be done periodically throughout the savings process so you can assess whether you’re saving enough and how you might need to increase your efforts as time goes on. I recommend running your numbers through a couple different calculators so you can compare the results. Wells Fargo has a great planning tool here, and I have a calculator on my website as well.

*Withdrawals are subject to ordinary income tax and may be subject to a federal 10% penalty if taken prior to age 59½.

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4 healthcare costs to consider for retirement

Want to make your money last as long as you do? Don’t forget to consider healthcare costs.

Want to make your money last as long as you do? Don’t forget to consider healthcare costs.

Want to make your money last as long as you do? Don’t forget to consider healthcare costs. According to the latest research from the Employee Benefits Research Institute, a married couple with median prescription drug expenses should aim to save $255,000 to cover their medical expenses in retirement. That amount will give them a 90% chance of having enough money on hand to pay for Medigap and Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket drug costs.

But though that’s the number for a couple, it doesn’t split equally down the middle. Women, because they live longer than men, should aim to have more — significantly more, according to EBRI’s research. $86,000 will give you a 50% chance of covering your expenses; $139,000 will get you to 90%. Men need only $65,000 and $122,000 for the same odds.

The good news is that these figures are down from 2011 and 2012 projections, when EBRI suggested couples save $283,000 and $287,000, respectively. Still, this is definitely an expense for which you’ll want to plan. Some steps to get you started.

  1. Get a handle on your individual needs. The above figures from EBRI are just estimates. You may need more or less, depending on your expected longevity, health history, current health status, and any illnesses that run in your family. How do you get closer to a concrete figure? Run your numbers through a calculator — I like this tool from AARP. It can give you the estimated costs of specific health issues you might encounter.
  2. Understand the cost of coverage. If you plan to retire with health insurance from your former employer, that’s great. And once you turn age 65, you’ll be eligible for Medicare — but there are still costs associated with that plan. Medicare Part A, the portion that covers hospital stays and care, is generally free, though it comes with a deductible and co-insurance. Then most people pay $104 for Medicare Part B premiums — which covers regular medical care like doctors’ visits — plus a deductible of $147 a year, according to Medicare figures for 2014.
  3. Don’t forget about long-term care. Medicare does not cover long-term care like nursing home stays. Medicaid might — if you qualify. But you may still benefit from having long-term care insurance. It’s pricey, so here’s the deal: If you have assets of less than $500,000 to $1 million, not including your house, you should skip this coverage. You’ll spend down pretty quickly should you need long term care, and Medicaid will step in. If you have assets of more than $3 to $5 million, you can afford to self-fund care. But if you fall in the middle, it’s worth at least looking into long-term care policy.
  4. Get more for your money. Finding a doctor you trust before you run into health issues is important, not only in saving you cash — you’ll get the preventative care you need, which can keep potential illnesses from spiraling out of control — but in keeping you healthy. If a certain disease runs in your family, make sure you choose a provider who is familiar with the treatments available.
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4 tips on how to start a discussion on retirement

A study from Hearts & Wallets last year found that only 38% of couples are planning for retirement together.

A study from Hearts & Wallets last year found that only 38% of couples are planning for retirement together.

I’m not going to pretend money is romantic. But many of the things you can do with money are romantic: The average person will spend close to $131 on Valentine’s Day, taking their loved one out to dinner, on a quick weekend trip, or buying flowers and candy.

All of those things are nice — and probably deeply appreciated. But I would argue that even more romantic is making plans for the future together, and that initial discussion, at least, doesn’t cost a thing. I’m not talking about this year’s summer vacation; I’m talking about retirement. A study from Hearts & Wallets last year found that only 38% of couples are planning for retirement together. That means the bulk of people surveyed haven’t talked with their spouse about when (or if) they plan to leave their job. They haven’t discussed where they want to live — if they want to move at all. They haven’t talked about how they want to spend their time in retirement, and whether they see it as an era to putter around the golf course, rock on the front porch, or travel the world.

This is one conversation about money that is fun — provided you’re at least remotely on the same page. You get to dream together and map out your future. Not only that, but research shows that visualizing retirement, and specifically how we will spend our time and what sort of lifestyle changes we want to make, can give us the impetus we need to save more.

If you’re struggling to talk to your partner about retirement plans, here’s how to get the conversation flowing:

Pick the right time. Just like any conversation about money, I think this one should occur when both of you are as relaxed as possible. That means when you walk in the door from work, or on your way out the door in the morning, isn’t the best. Broach the subject during your next dinner out, or on your Valentine’s Day getaway.

Talk about wants and needs. Maybe you want to travel the world, but you need to at least leave your job by a certain age. Or you want to move closer to your kids, but whether you do that by moving to the nearest beach town is up for debate. It’s helpful to think about your feelings on these subjects before your bring up the conversation, and allow your partner time to think about his before giving a response. Many people haven’t really thought about how they plan to spend retirement, not least because many feel they’ll never get there.

Compromise. You want to leave work never; he wants you to leave by age 65. Or maybe it’s you pulling him out the door. Either way, meet in the middle. And if you can’t agree on where you’ll end up? Search for new possible locations that you could get excited about together.
Keep the conversation going. You don’t have to write out a plan in ink right now. This initial conversation is just a brainstorming session, so you can get a feeling for where you stand. Once you know that, you can start researching your options and thinking about how you’d feel if you had to change your vision slightly to meet up with your partner’s. Talk about it again in six months, and see how things have evolved.

Be flexible. Retirement is something you can’t completely plan. Not only because you don’t know how long you’re going to live or how much money you’re going to spend, but also because you don’t know what health problems or career changes might be coming down the pike. You might agree to retire at age 65, only to be confronted with an amazing job opportunity at age 63. The idea is to get a framework in place, but aim to keep it fluid and so you can tweak as things come up.

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Top 5 estate planning mistakes

Estate planning forces us to face our own mortality, something we’d all rather avoid. Beyond that, the process is rife with legal documents, which can be intimidating.

Estate planning forces us to face our own mortality, something we’d all rather avoid. Beyond that, the process is rife with legal documents, which can be intimidating.

Estate planning is a scary topic for many. For one, it forces us to face our own mortality, something we’d all rather avoid. Beyond that, the process is rife with legal documents, which can be intimidating.

Unfortunately, little missteps here and there can mean your carefully-laid out wishes aren’t fulfilled. This post aims to help you avoid those. Here, the top five estate planning mistakes:

  1. Not planning at all. According to recent research from the website Rocket Lawyer, close to two-thirds of Americans don’t have a will. Worse, 55% of those with children don’t have one. Why is that so bad? Because a will is how you designate guardians for your children if you are no longer around to care for them. Skipping out on this means that decision may be left to a court.
  2. Not updating your beneficiaries. The beneficiary designations on things like your retirement accounts, life insurance policies or annuities will trump the directives outlined in your will, which means keeping them up-to-date is of paramount importance. Otherwise, you may find that your ex-spouse receives your entire retirement savings, while your current one — or your children — receive nothing.
  3. Leaving money with strings attached. I don’t believe in this, nor do many of the estate planning experts I’ve spoken to. Gifting your children with an amount of cash on the condition that they complete a degree at a four year college, for example, generally isn’t a good idea. For one, you never know if your kid is going to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. But beyond that, these sort of contingencies get messy fast. Maybe your kid wants to go to art school, not Harvard. If you feel that there may be a scenario under which you don’t want money to be released — for instance, worries about drug or alcohol problems — you can leave money in a trust, to be distributed in chunks.
  4. Forgetting about material assets. That table in your dining room that was once JFK’s desk? It could be sold at a yard sale if you don’t tell anyone it’s of value. The same goes for other material assets, both valuable and sentimental. It helps to create a list of all of the items in your home that are worth passing on, noting who you’d like them to be passed to or how they should be distributed.
  5. Letting your plan gather dust. This sort of thing needs to be revisited at least once a year, and updated when major life changes happen, whether that means a marriage, a divorce, or the birth of a new family member. Forgetting to do that could mean your assets end up in the wrong hands, or someone is inadvertently left out.

Finally, a bonus: Not working with a good estate planning attorney — or, at the very least, having one look over your plans if you go at it alone or with the help of an online service.

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5 things to consider when creating an inheritance of assets

A lot of people associate the word legacy with the wealthy, but the truth of the matter is, planning for the legacy you want to leave is something that transcends your bank account balance

A lot of people associate the word legacy with the wealthy, but the truth of the matter is, planning for the legacy you want to leave is something that transcends your bank account balance

A lot of people associate the word legacy with the wealthy, but the truth of the matter is, planning for the legacy you want to leave is something that transcends your bank account balance. It’s about directing your assets — no matter the size of your estate — the way you see fit.

For many, this means giving to a charity or cause they support. Others just want to dictate how their money, or belongings, are distributed among friends and family. And often it’s a mix of both. Creating a legacy plan is how you accomplish this. Here, some advice for putting yours in place.

Get started. Sounds simple, but as with wills, this is an area that has many people dragging their feet. We don’t like to think about death. But a legacy plan is about life — you’re dictating how you’ll live on through what you leave behind. The earlier you create a plan, and share it with those you love, the better.

If you want to leave money to a specific charity, let the charity know. This is important, not only if you have special requests — setting up a scholarship in your name, perhaps — but also because the charity may have stipulations you need to follow or limitations as far as how they can accept your gift. Most charities will be extremely receptive to your desire to include them in your legacy planning. Be sure, too, to be specific. If you’d like your money to go to the local chapter of the Red Cross, for example, rather than the national organization, make that known.

A side note, here: Be sure to research the charity if you haven’t already. True, most people leave money to charities that they’ve long supported, but that doesn’t mean they’ve done adequate research. All too often, someone was solicited by a charity long ago, began making regular donations, and never did much digging into how the money is used or the operation run.

Keep your beneficiary designations updated. These are separate from, and trump, the information that is in your will, meaning that if the beneficiary on your 401(k) is an ex-husband, the account will go to him, even if your will states that all assets should be passed to your current husband. The same goes for life insurance policies. And if you want to leave a lump sum to a charity, you can always name that group as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or a trust.

Communicate with your heirs. Leaving your children money in equal amounts certainly makes things easier. But if you can’t, or don’t want to, do that, at least explain your reasoning. And name them all as beneficiaries if you’re distributing a life insurance policy or trust, instead of naming one and asking him or her to divide it up. This way, you’re keeping the power in your hands and eliminating potential arguments.

Make a list of valuable items. It’s helpful to write down, and share with your heirs, a list of items in your home that hold value, whether they’re actually worth money or they’re merely sentimental. Otherwise, that $5,000 painting may get sold in a garage sale (and you’ll see your story on the local news.)

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5 tips to help you be rational about a windfall

Whenever you receive a windfall, no matter what the source, there are a lot of emotions involved. That’s particularly true when we’re talking about an inheritance, which tends to come at a time when you’re grieving. As I’ve written in this space before, emotions and money don’t mix well.

So getting the most from a sudden influx of cash like an inheritance depends largely on your ability to set your feelings aside and think rationally. How do you do that?

Whenever you receive a windfall, no matter what the source, there are a lot of emotions involved

Whenever you receive a windfall, no matter what the source, there are a lot of emotions involved

  1. Freeze. The first thing I like to see anyone do after a sudden influx of cash is nothing. Yes, nothing. Putting the windfall aside for six months may not earn you much interest, but it will give you a chance to get your bearings and figure out how best to put this money to use. That’s not to say you should stash a check, or, worse, bills, under your mattress. Put the money in a savings or money market account until you’ve made up your mind.
  2. Prioritize your immediate needs. The question often comes up: Should I put money in an emergency fund or pay down debt? My answer is both. Whenever you pay off debt, you’re getting an immediate return worth the interest rate you would’ve paid — so paying off an 18% interest rate credit card effectively gives you a return of 18%. But having cash on hand keeps you out of debt in the first place. Depending on how much money you have to work with, you may be able to take care of both. But if that’s not an option, stash at least $1,000 away in an emergency fund, then pay down high-interest rate debt. If you still have money left, go back to the emergency fund until you’ve built up three to six months worth of expenses. If you don’t, use the money you were previously paying toward credit card minimums to keep building up that savings account each month.
  3. Follow my hierarchy of savings. It says that the aforementioned emergency fund comes first. Next on the list are any retirement accounts that come with matched contributions, like a 401(k). Those matching dollars are free money, so take advantage of them. After you satisfy those rungs on the ladder, contribute to other tax-advantaged accounts, like an IRA or 529 plan for your kids. The money will grow tax-deferred (or, with a Roth IRA, you’ll pay taxes upfront but be able to pull it out tax-free in retirement). Finally, if you max out these options and you have money left over, look to discretionary accounts to continue to save more. These will allow you to invest, albeit without the tax advantages. Still, saving more when you have the opportunity is always a smart move.
  4. Have a little fun. Particularly if you’re used to pinching pennies, I’m giving you full permission for one small splurge. Use a percentage of the money — I’d cap it at 5% to 10% — to do something fun, whether that means buying a pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing or taking the family on a vacation. Allowing yourself a little freedom will make it easier to make responsible decisions with the remaining cash.
  5. Consider getting help. If you’re not used to having, let alone investing, large sums of money, paying for the help of a financial advisor is well worth it. He or she can help you create a financial plan that fits your new financial reality.
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6 things to consider for child support

If you have kids, one of the most complicated aspects of a divorce is the part that pertains to them — namely, custody and child support arrangements

If you have kids, one of the most complicated aspects of a divorce is the part that pertains to them — namely, custody and child support arrangements

If you have kids, one of the most complicated aspects of a divorce is the part that pertains to them — namely, custody and child support arrangements.

Each state has a method for calculating child support, based on a percentage of income. A judge will set the specific arrangements for the payments, but he or she will do so based on your state’s regulations. Here, a checklist of things the judge — and you — should consider:

  1. Who pays. And how much, how often. You’ll also work out the finer details of who covers specific expenses related to the child (like clothing, child care, extracurricular activities, school supplies, special lessons, medical bills, tutoring, etc.).
  2. How support will be enforced. In most cases, you can ask that support be paid through your state’s child support-enforcement agency. They will be responsible for collecting payments and distributing them to you, as well as stepping in when payments aren’t made. This is generally the best way to formalize the agreement, though you may pay a small fee. It’s worth eliminating the headache of tracking down payments yourself, though, particularly if you can’t trust your ex-spouse to pay up.
  3. Insurance for the children. If they are on your health insurance plan, and you want to keep them there, you may ask for additional support to contribute to those payments. Likewise, if they are on your spouse’s plan, your payments may be reduced slightly to accommodate that cost. Either way, be sure to work out how children will be covered and how that coverage will be paid.
  4. Future expenses. Things like college costs are often dealt with in a child support agreement. You might also wish to divvy up other expenses, like a wedding or future car.
  5. Whether support is paid when custody is shared. Often, if you are awarded joint custody, and you have similar incomes, no child support will be required. If your incomes are disparate, the parent with the higher income may still pay support even in a joint custody arrangement.
  6. Finally, most states have child support calculators or worksheets online that can give you a rough idea of how much you might receive — or be required to pay. To find yours, google “child support calculator” and the name of your state, or look on your state’s website. And be sure you’re clear on the difference between child support and spousal support or alimony. Alimony is completely separate and is designed to provide support to a lower-income spouse. Alimony is also tax-deductible; child support is not.
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4 tips for setting financial goals

It’s nice to think of the New Year as a fresh start, and while you can’t wipe the slate completely clean, turning the calendar page can give you the motivation you need to make some changes to your financial life.

To do that, it helps to have goals. I know — this sounds suspiciously like resolutions, promises that 45% of us make and only 8% of us actually keep. But the best way to keep from becoming part of that statistic is to set goals for the year. You have to figure out what you want before you can achieve it. Here, how to do that:

  • Settle on a savings goal. If you’re not currently saving anything, you want to start small with a figure that seems possible — otherwise, you’ll get discouraged and quit. Start with one or two percent of your income, with a plan to bump it up every year (if you earn yearly raises at work, that’s the perfect time to make this increase). If you’re already saving a little bit and want to increase that amount, gradually do that one or two percent at a time. This method means you’ll ease into saving more without shocking your system. The end goal is to save 10% of your income. The good news: Any employer contributions to your retirement account, like matching dollars, count toward that figure as well.
  • Decide where to save it. If you have a retirement plan at work, this question is a no-brainer — at least until you max it out. With a 401(k), you can contribute up to $18,000 in 2015 if you’re under age 50; those 50 and older can contribute an extra $6,000 in catch up contributions for a total of $24,000. You may also be offered the aforementioned matching dollars, and if you are, you want to contribute at least enough to your employer plan to grab those. Once you do — or if you don’t have a 401(k) — you can look at an IRA, which has lower contribution limits of $5,500 for those under 50 and $6,500 for those 50 and older*.
  • Stay motivated. A few things here: First, you should focus on one goal at a time, because research shows our willpower is limited. So get into a savings groove, then tackle the weight loss. Or quit smoking, then clean up your finances. Once you’ve started working toward something, the key to staying on track is building in small rewards, not just at the end, but along the way. So say you want to save $5,000 this year. For every $500 you put away, treat yourself to a manicure, a nice hot lather shave, a few drinks with friends — something you wouldn’t ordinary fit into your budget that will help you look forward to the next $500 benchmark.
  • Get some help. Having a financial advisor on your side can keep you on track to meet your goals. He or she can remind you why you’re saving when you feel the urge to spend, and calm your fears when you read a headline in the news that makes you question your investing strategy.

*Withdrawals are subject to ordinary income tax and may be subject to a federal 10% penalty if taken prior to age 59½.

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5 financial tips for women divorcing

If you’re looking at a potential split, or in the middle of one, the following tips will help you keep more money in your pocket

If you’re looking at a potential split, or in the middle of one, the following tips will help you keep more money in your pocket

It used to be that women were nearly automatically awarded alimony and full custody of the children in a divorce. Not many questions were asked. But these days, mothers are the breadwinners in 40% of households with children under age 18, according to research from Pew Research Center. Sure, many of those mothers are single parents, but 37% are married and still the sole or primary earner in their homes.

What that means is that more women are likely to be making alimony (these days called maintenance or support) payments in a divorce than ever before. Who gets the kids isn’t as easy a question to answer as it once was either. If you’re looking at a potential split, or in the middle of one, the following tips will help you keep more money in your pocket:

  1. Gather important documents. That’s tax returns, income history, account statements for both joint and personal accounts (including investment and bank accounts), credit card records, records of assets like your mortgage or car, insurance policies, and anything else that will need to be dealt with in a split. The more organized you are before you head to the attorney, the less time (and money) that counselor will spend trying to organize you.
  2. Carve out your own pot of money. You don’t want to do anything that could get you in trouble once the legal proceedings start — the last thing you want is to look like you’re hiding money — but with your lawyer’s blessing, it can make sense to open your own bank account and set aside enough cash to get you through several months. Open a checking account and a savings account, and apply for your own credit card if you don’t already have one.
  3. Pay attention to your credit score — and any joint credit cards. You should both agree to stop using joint cards, but it’s important to keep tabs and make sure that’s actually happening. If you don’t have much credit in your own name — many people falsely assume that their spouse’s credit will help their own, or that couples jointly share a credit report, neither of which is the case — and can’t qualify for a traditional card, apply for a secured card. It works like a hybrid debit and credit card: You put down a deposit, which becomes the line of credit. With responsible use, it eventually converts to a regular credit card.
  4. Get a good lawyer. Or, if you’re splitting amicably, a good collaborative attorney or mediator, which can save you money and make the process less painful. If you need a lawyer, meet with a few to find the right fit. A financial advisor can come in handy in this situation, too, to help you develop a new financial plan and invest any settlement coming your way.
  5. Review your insurance policies. You may be able to get rid of some, and you may need to add others. Start with your life insurance — if you don’t have kids, and the policy was to provide for your ex-husband, you can probably cancel it (unless your agreement stipulates that you can’t). Be sure to change your beneficiary if your spouse was previously listed (this goes for retirement accounts, too — the beneficiary listed trumps what your will says, a fact that often surprises people when it’s too late). If you were covered by your spouse’s health insurance, you may need a new policy, which you can purchase via the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Exchanges. Note: You can do this even if it isn’t open enrollment time — divorce qualifies you for a special enrollment period. Finally, consider disability coverage, if you don’t already have it. It’s more important when you’re single.
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