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Divorce and Your Money - #1 Divorce Podcast

Visit us at www.DivorceAndYourMoney.com Divorce and Your Money is your guide to avoiding costly mistakes during divorce. Shawn Leamon, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and MBA, wants to help you learn the fundamentals of how to get a divorce. Whether you are looking for an uncontested divorce, a do it yourself divorce, or an online divorce, resources are available to offer guidance. Through his divorce podcast and divorce blog, Shawn offers his professional opinion on the best ways to handle the end of your marriage. He covers topics including how to file for divorce, divorcing a narcissist, and finding the best divorce attorney. Even tricky subjects such as a “what is a QDRO?” and “is alimony taxable?” are tackled through these venues. If you need to know what the first steps are or what you should do to head to trial during litigation, you can find resources to give you a step-by-step guide to what comes next. Think of his advice as an alternative to divorce support groups where you can find exactly what you need when you need it. He offers one-on-one divorce coaching to give you a solid grasp on the decisions that are bound to affect your financial future. Before you have a divorce decree in hand, you will likely go through some type of divorce mediation. For any spouse saying, “I want a divorce,” you need to make sure that you are getting the financial future you are entitled to. Do not allow yourself to be blinded by the emotional, legal, and financial burden that divorce can become. Instead, take control of your situation with sage wisdom to help all individuals make better financial decisions for their independent future. If you find yourself asking “where are the best divorce lawyers near me?”, Shawn can help you to recognize the best of the best. Whether you need a divorce in Texas, a divorce in Florida, or a divorce in New York, you will have all the knowledge you need to find the best team of professionals to assist you. You can start from a place of being legally separated or once you have already started to file for divorce using free divorce papers or an attorney. No matter where you or your marriage may be in the process, Shawn Leamon has professional advice to offer your unique situation. A simple no fault divorce or a high-stakes power struggle are all areas he has vast experience with during his work outside of Divorce and Your Money. Let his advice be a guide to help you get all that you need for a secure financial future in your divorce records. It will not make a difference whether you are getting a divorce in Ohio or a divorce in California if you are following the basic principles set out through Divorce and Your Money’s divorce blog, divorce podcast, and divorce coaching.
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Aug 17, 2017
Being served divorce papers signifies the beginning of the end. Unfortunately, it does not always mean that appearing in court will necessarily happen quickly. Finalization could be months or years away, even after you have divorce papers in hand. In the meantime, what should you do to make the most of this time?
 
Preparing for the inevitable end of your marriage can give you a feeling of control. But it can also assist you in receiving all that you are entitled to as a participant in your marriage. Taking charge of the situation during this initial phase can give you a successful start toward a favorable resolution to your divorce process.
 
Once you are served with divorce papers, what do you need to do first? Here are a few tips for getting started on the right path:
 
1) Get organized.
 
When it comes to finalizing your divorce, you cannot underestimate the importance of organization. Begin by using this time to gather pertinent documents, including tax returns, bank statements, and information about retirement savings accounts. The more work you can do at this stage without the pressure of a time crunch, the more thorough you can be at assembling and gathering everything you need.
 
This stage could also be a good time to begin thinking through which assets or properties hold significant value to you. Is there a piece of furniture you want to claim in the settlement? Make a list of these items now—without the heat of spousal squabbles. Then you can more easily clarify which items are most important to you.
 
2) Assemble your team of professionals.
 
Depending on the complexity of your divorce, you may need to hire quite a few professionals to assist you. Team members may include an attorney, a certified divorce financial analyst, a forensic accountant, or a private investigator. Be sure to do research to determine which professionals have extensive experience in their field and great customer reviews.
 
You can also use this time to consider how much of the work you will be doing on your own. Some prefer to file their own paperwork, or you can just work out a settlement negotiation with your spouse. Others find their divorce to be more complicated. Therefore, they may need the assistance of an attorney to go to trial.
 
Knowing how much you want to complete on your own and how much you plan to spend can assist you with hiring the right professionals for the job.
 
Remember that the people you hire to handle your divorce are there for a purpose. It will be a business relationship, and should be managed as such. Select professionals that you can work with well, as you could be spending a large amount of time and money with your team.
 
The professionals you hire are the people responsible for assisting you in receiving the best possible settlement. These decisions are crucial for the future of your financial security, and they cannot be overlooked.
 
3)If possible,try to open the lines of communication with your spouse.
If possible, healthy communication can certainly speed up the process of agreeing on a settlement or a custody arrangement for your children. When a healthy level of open communication is possible, the process can be easier, less emotionally taxing, and significantly faster.
 
The more you and your spouse can sort out between you, the less involvement you will need from attorneys and other team members. If you open the lines of communication, both of you will typically have an easier negotiation and lower attorney fees.
 
However, under certain circumstances like abuse, bullying, or manipulation, you should not even consider communication. In these kinds of situations, allow the team you have assembled to handle most, if not all of the communication between the two of you.
 
4)Take care of your own emotional health.
Even though divorce is an extremely emotionally turbulent time in anyone’s life, the professionals you hire are not there to hear about your feelings. Instead, you hire them to handle the facts, and create a favorable divorce settlement; that is truly all you should be sharing with them.
 
Therefore, you will need to find another outlet for the emotional response triggered by the impending end of your marriage. For some, this outlet can be as simple as talking with friends over drinks, or taking a yoga class to practice mindfulness.
 
If you have a smaller support system, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a professional therapist. It may be worthwhile to consider seeking professional help to find coping skills if you feel overstressed.
 
Over time, the burden of extreme emotional distress can take a toll on your physical health and psyche. Sorting through your feelings can improve your well-being, and it can allow you to participate in your divorce process with a calmer demeanor and more level head. This mindset allows you to be firm during all the negotiations that are involved after being served divorce papers.
 
Early in the process, take control.
 
Being served divorce papers truly is the first step toward finalizing the end of your marriage. And it is the start of something new. You will quickly discover that there are a lot of items on your to-do list that require your attention. By taking control of the situation now, you can enter the rest of the process with increased levelheadedness and a sense of calm.
 
Take the first steps towards securing a financially healthy future in your soon-to-be single life. Once you are served divorce papers, it is time to take control of your life. Following these steps will help you before the divorce process even begins.
 
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Aug 15, 2017
When your spouse has a disability of any type, it adds an additional layer of stress to your divorce. Now this already emotionally tumultuous time is filled with extra responsibilities and concerns that must be addressed before your divorce can be finalized. If your spouse has a disability, you will need to contemplate whether they have the long-term capacity to support themselves without your assistance.
 
When it comes to divorcing a spouse with a disability, what do you need to consider first? Here are the first three questions you will want to start answering now:
 
1) What level of service do you currently provide for your disabled spouse?
The first thing you will need to do is accurately assess the amount of assistance that you provide for your spouse. Think about all of the things you do for them on a daily basis, including driving them to appointments, helping them shower, and running errands for them. After the divorce is over, these items will still need to be completed, even after they are living on their own.
 
In order to assess your own role in their care, consider making a detailed list of activities that you regularly assist them with. Make a list of the items that they could perform on their own, as well as the ones they would be incapable of completing without the assistance of another person. An honest evaluation of their abilities will help you answer the next question with more accuracy.
 
2) Will your spouse need additional services?
Without your daily assistance in caring for them, your evaluation of the level of service you provide them with should help you determine if they will need additional services in your absence. In order to continue their daily care in your absence, you may need to add professional services to maintain their standard of living.
 
What will the exact arrangements need to be? There could be some level of involvement from family or close friends, combined with professional services. Arrange for a part-time or full-time caregiver, or at least obtain a few estimates of what the overall expenses will be for them to continue their daily care. Now is a great time to begin considering whether your spouse can cover the costs of their current income on their own, or if they will need government assistance.
Based on their newly single income, your spouse may qualify for social security and disability, which can greatly assist the two of you to figure out how to cover the cost of their care without obligating you to continue performing it day after day.
 
3) Can you afford spousal support?
Are you a significantly higher earner, or is your spouse incapable of earning enough to support themselves financially due to their disability? If so, you may end up paying spousal support to contribute towards their necessary care.
Because your spouse has a disability, your required level of spousal support could typically be higher than the general population. Spousal support is often mandated to help cover the cost of services and care that your spouse will not be able to afford, based on current income or benefits.
 
Spousal support is often considered permanent in these situations, at least until your spouse has a change in disability status, remarries, or receives new or additional benefits, which would change the necessity of your spousal support. The severity and type of their disability will certainly play a role in determining the monthly amount of spousal support.
This scenario is also possible: you may be required to pay for their health insurance or assist with medical bills, in addition to paying spousal support. As a part of your divorce agreement, you may be able to keep a spouse on an employer-sponsored healthcare plan.
 
Divorcing with a Disability
It should be no surprise that divorcing a spouse with a disability is likely to entail a greater degree of planning than may otherwise be necessary. Remember, to start off on the right foot, make sure you have a thorough, accurate understanding of what you currently do for your spouse, as well as what would need to be done in your absence. Solutions can vary from having the assistance of a family member to hiring a caregiver.
 
While you should not remain in a failing marriage that makes you unhappy, you will definitely need to consider the higher rates of spousal support. Alongside your spouse, begin investigating what additional benefits or programs they qualify for, and assess what you can reasonably afford on your income.
 
Divorce is difficult, even under the best of circumstances, but adding a disability into the equation creates a new level of difficulty. By answering these three questions in advance, your current divorce will begin on the path towards future freedom and financial security for you and your spouse.
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Aug 10, 2017

Divorce is painful; there is no question about that. It is a devastating shakeup of any life. The more painful it is, the more people want to know: “How long does it take to get over it?”

The answer to this question depends on several factors:

·      The length of the marriage

·      How close you were

·      Which spouse filed for divorce

·      Whether or not infidelity was involved

However, the length of time is ultimately up to you.

Divorce is an adjustment. You have to find a way to adapt to your new reality. Oftentimes, people want the pain to be gone quicker than the natural process allows, which could actually result in the process taking longer.

Here are some tips to help make the process work for you. Then you can hopefully move on, and find happiness in your new life faster.

Grieving Is Essential

To move on from any painful ending, you have to do the work. If you keep your emotions hidden or ignore the grief from any life change, it will only makes things worse in the long run. And more often than not, you will remain stuck.

Let yourself feel the pain. When you feel like crying, find a quiet place as soon as you can, and let the tears out. Every tear you shed is a release of emotion, and grief helps you slowly move forward as you let more and more out.

Take it one moment at a time. A huge change like divorce is incredibly difficult and painful. We are creatures of habit, and when something obliterates the life that we have become comfortable with, it creates a yearning for the life that we once knew. And that yearning makes adjusting to a new life much more difficult.

The only way to get through the whole process is to get yourself through each moment. One moment leads to another, and pretty soon, you will realize that you have made it through days, then weeks, then months. Your stamina and your ability to adapt to your new life will increase during each moment. Then one day, you will realize that it hurts less, and that hope has returned to your life. You will have the ability to be happy again.

Do not forget to remind yourself that a relationship takes two people, so any divorce is not the sole fault of one person. Since pain gives your viewpoint tunnel-vision, we tend to forget that there are two people involved, and nobody is perfect.

Ask for Help

Talk to friends about what you are going through. They can help you move through your grief by validating your pain, helping you find a healthy perspective, and taking your mind off things.

See a counselor or therapist. They are trained to help you find healthy coping mechanisms, which are the most valuable takeaways of therapy. They can also help make sure that you do not fall into depression.

Seek advice from a Divorce Coach who has worked with all kinds of divorce situations. They can help you avoid disastrous situations, save money, and find the best ways to heal. As an objective observer, your Divorce Coach will be able to validate you because they specialize in what you are going through.

Find an Escape

This advice does not include doing anything careless or reckless, but it will help you to take a break from your grief every once in a while. Your life cannot be all about your divorce. While you should not let a break parlay into long-term avoidance, it can be a good way to adapt to your post-divorce life.

Remember, it is good to take your mind off of your divorce, and a break can help you get through each moment as you build your stamina in your newly single life.

Here are some ways to temporarily escape your divorce:

  • Going to dinner with friends is a simple way to get your mind off your divorce.
  • Meditation has been proven to keep your brain in a positive state.
  • Go on a short vacation, by yourself or with friends. It is a good way to hit the restart button.
  • Hobbies and interests will be hard to maintain, but if you can, try to keep up with them. They are healthy ways to give your brain a break.
  • Exercise raises the endorphins and makes you feel better about yourself. This tactic makes it easier to stick with healthy coping mechanisms that a therapist and/or Divorce Coach will teach you. It leads to a higher sense of self-worth, which will also help speed up your recovery from divorce.

It is understandable that you would want to know a timeline: When will the pain caused by your divorce stop? However, it is not easy to gain the knowledge about how long it takes to get over a divorce. But if you do the work, stay in a healthy place, and keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will find yourself in a better mood before you know it.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

 

Want more free divorce advice and tips?

Subscribe to the Divorce and Your Money Podcast, trusted by over 50,000 people across the United States.

Aug 10, 2017
Sometimes in divorce, it feels like one spouse is dragging their feet and the divorce is taking too long. Your spouse may be causing delays: rescheduling meetings or court appearances, requesting an extension, or taking a long time to give you information that you need. In some cases, it may be your spouse’s attorney that is slowing down the process, either as a deliberate strategy or just out of incompetence. You may feel helpless in the face of these delays.
How can you speed things up?
 
There is no silver bullet for these issues. Every locale has its own rules and procedures, so you’ll have to check with your attorney to see if the options below will work for your situation. Be aware that it’s important to document everything. Document every email and phone call, every rescheduled meeting, and every time you follow up on something and do not receive a reply. If you ultimately go before a judge, you can bolster your case by showing that your spouse or their attorney were causing delays.
 
There are four options that may help you to speed up your divorce:
 
1) A motion to compel
 
In broad terms, a motion to compel is when the court sets a date for your spouse to reply to a specific request or to provide documentation that you have asked for. If they missed that date, they can be held in contempt of court. Often the penalty will be a fine, but there are other consequences that can follow. For example, the court may place an evidentiary restriction that limits the evidence that your spouse can provide for their case. The most extreme penalty is jail time. If you’re waiting on a specific request, see if a motion to compel is an option for your situation.
 
2) Settlement conference in front of a judge
 
Although it’s often preferable to avoid going to court, there are times when it can be beneficial. A settlement conference will allow you to meet the judge, test out a few arguments with them and get a sense of how the case would go if you end up resolving it in front of the judge. A settlement conference can be good motivation for your spouse to try to look as good as possible, so they will often address any outstanding requests shortly before the settlement conference so they don’t look like they’ve been ignoring you.
 
3) Subpoena a third party
 
In some cases, you need information that is held by a third party. As an example, let us say that your spouse has worked for a particularly employer and has a retirement plan at Fidelity. You need information about their retirement plan, but your spouse is taking forever to get that information to you. In this case, your attorney may be able to subpoena Fidelity to get those records. There are some legal technicalities, so check with your lawyer if it will be an option to get information that your spouse is not providing willingly.
 
4) Default judgment
 
If your spouse has repeatedly been missing deadlines, you may have the option of asking for a default judgment. This means that if your spouse fails to respond for a certain period of time, the court can issue a judgment of whatever you ask for (within reason). The non-responsive spouse’s side will not be considered. It can take a long time for a default judgment to happen, and there are restrictions in place to protect your spouse, but it’s worth looking into if there hasn’t been movement on your case.
 
When it comes to divorce, there is no easy solution. Unfortunately, some things in divorce just take time. It can take 3-6 months between court appearances in some places, particularly if the courts are backed up. However, if your spouse or their lawyer is actively slowing down this process, and you have documentation, bring these options up with your attorney. You may be able to force the process to move forward.
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Aug 8, 2017

 

 
What happens when you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement regarding your divorce settlement? While this scenario does not occur in every case, there are certain circumstances that make negotiating a settlementimpossible. One spouse may more stubbornly hold to their opinions, or outside views could influence their willingness to negotiate crucial items from the marriage. When this situation happens, a trial is an inevitable way to solve the conflict.

Before you head to trial, there is a lot of advice surrounding what you should do, how you should act, and what you may experience next.

However, there are definitely a few things you need to think through before allowing your case to go to trial before a judge. What specifics do you need to consider before you head to trial?

A trial is full of risk.

Unlike the other methods of divorce, going to trial leaves your entire settlement up in the air, which puts you and your spouse at the mercy of a judge—with no easily predictable outcome.

Litigation takes away some of the control that you experience from more amicable methods, such as dividing property, assets, and other marital items. Settlements can be decided prior to a trial, which gives you the utmost control over what happens with your finances, your marital home, and the custody of your children.

During a trial, this degree of control is stripped away and handed to a judge, who has the ability to make any decision that he or she chooses. Even if you and your attorney feel that the issues surrounding assets and custody are clear-cut, a judge could make an unforeseen decision.

Laws are in place to safeguard all parties involved in a divorce case, and judges are supposed to remain neutral and objective, while listening to the facts and details of the case. However, the end result still remains uncertain, compared to other methods of divorce.

A trial can put significant strain on your finances.

Divorce is hardly ever an inexpensive process, but heading to trial has the potential to add thousands of dollars onto your final bill. Paying an attorney for their time spent preparing a case, their hours spent in court, court-filing fees, and other items can take a serious toll on your overall finances and rack up an exorbitant bill.

The more items you can settle with your spouse prior to heading to trial, the better your bottom line will be when the divorce is finalized. In advance, consider which items are your biggest priorities. They may include heirloom furniture, sentimental items, or valuable pieces of property.

In order to avoid wasting extensive amounts of expensive time that your attorney can bill you for, knickknacks and other items of inconsequential value should be decided on prior to trial.

The best idea is to attempt to keep the trial focused on the bigger items that you and your spouse cannot agree upon, such as your marital home, retirement accounts, finances, alimony payments, or custody issues.

Keep in mind that you can make a settlement at any time, even during the final moments in court. If your spouse becomes willing to negotiate, this last-minute endeavor could help save you significant amounts of money on the day of your trial.

A trial requires lots of time and preparation.

Make sure that you understand everything your attorney presents to you. You will be asked to review numerous documents, including your filing paperwork, your bills, and your trial strategy.

To achieve overall success in trial, it is critical to keep yourself informed and familiar with the evidence, witnesses, and testimony that you will be required to provide in court. This preparation is a time-consuming endeavor, but you should consider all of the ways in which you may need to prepare yourself prior to trial. Consider practicing with your attorney, and regularly reviewing the list of potential questions they will ask.

Self-representation requires far more preparation and a greater time commitment when things head to trial—even more so than a typical trial that would have an attorney at your disposal. This preparation is even more pertinent if you will be representing yourself. In this situation, you will need to know the local rules, fill out the required paperwork, and familiarize yourself with the proper procedures for introducing witnesses or evidence into the trial.

You may also be up against a well-prepared, experienced attorney, who will not cut you any slack due to your own inexperience.

However, while representing yourself, you can significantly save on the overall cost of divorce.

Making the Final Decision

Going to trial to settle the final details of your divorce can certainly be a nerve-wracking experience. Make sure that you understand each aspect of a trial (including the potential outcomes) prior to making the decision to pursue this avenue. A lack of information can lead to uncertain outcomes, as well as a greater commitment of your finances and time.

While some situations make avoiding a trial impossible, remember to factor in your ability to settle until the end of your actual day in court.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Want more free divorce advice and tips?

Subscribe to the Divorce and Your Money Podcast, trusted by over 50,000 people across the United States.

Aug 8, 2017
"Many times people oversimplify what’s needed before they put the house on the market. There are all these little things that ultimately get caught by home inspection that will later turn into a negotiation that very rarely favors the seller. What I advise people to do is get a pre-inspection and have the home looked at by an inspector.” - Max Townsend
 
In this episode we interview Max Townsend, a licensed real estate agent in Texas. Max shares great details about how to sell your home during divorce, and he provides some key tips for moving on and getting a new place after divorce. Max covered a lot of ground we’ve never discussed before on the show — and some great advice most people don’t know about!
 
You’ll definitely want to listen to this episode. 
 
To learn more about Max Townsend, check out his great site at http://maxtownsend.com/. Be sure to sign up for his great newsletter! (Seriously — it’s great!)
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Aug 3, 2017

This was originally published on Divorce And Your Money here.

Hiring an attorney can be cost-prohibitive for individuals who are in the process of seeking a divorce. However, many people still find it to be too intimidating to tackle the finalization of their divorce through the court system on their own—without legal assistance or guidance.

In lieu of placing a divorce attorney on retainer, some couples are now more interested in hiring a divorce paralegal to assist them. These professionals can help you fill out and file the correct forms, and they offer several different services at a reduced rate, compared to an attorney.

How do you know if hiring a divorce paralegal could be the right option for you? To get a thorough understanding of what they can offer, consider the answers to these three questions:

What is a divorce paralegal?

A divorce paralegal is typically an assistant to an attorney. Some of them are directly overseen by a divorce attorney within the same office. Others may work independently, based on their personal experience, education, or training.

Keep in mind that a paralegal does not have the right or ability to offer legal counsel throughout the process. That job function is exclusively performed by attorneys, so you may want to consider keeping an attorney on your team of professionals if you feel you will need legal advice. A paralegal also cannot represent you in court if your divorce is headed to trial.

The right divorce paralegal should be able to help you proofread and prepare any necessary forms. They are typically experienced and well-versed in knowing which forms are necessary, and where they need to be filed, based on local rules and regulations. If you feel you may struggle in this area while trying to handle your divorce on your own, a paralegal may be able to provide the correct level of support for you.

What should you look for in a divorce paralegal?

First and foremost, consider the obvious attributes of a potential divorce paralegal. You will be spending quite a bit of time with this professional, so make sure that you can work with their personality and attitude.

Evaluate their customer service skills, their responsiveness to your phone calls and emails, and their commitment to knowing the details surrounding your unique situation. You also do not want to underestimate the importance of cleanliness in their office space, as well as the friendliness of their reception staff and other coworkers.

From here, you should seek out professionals who maintain an official certification from a well-accredited program or association. Examples of highly recognized programs include those endorsed by the American Bar Association (ABA) or the National Association of Legal Assistants. They may also be licensed or registered within their field, depending on your state’s rules and regulations.

You will want to hire someone who specializes as a divorce paralegal or in other family law matters, instead of someone who has experience in a vast array of areas. This tactic ensures that their knowledge and training is more finely tuned than it might otherwise be. When selecting the proper divorce paralegal, referrals from family members and friends who have utilized their services for their own divorce can also be of value.

When should you use a divorce paralegal?

A divorce paralegal is just one option among many for finalizing your divorce. Therefore, how do you know if your situation will allow for this type of divorce? If you and your spouse are going to have a fairly simple divorce process, a paralegal may be able to provide a sufficient level of support for you—with just a little more assistance than you would have had with a do-it-yourself divorce. This type of divorce is best for individuals who have no kids, little to no property, and few financial obligations that need to be split between spouses.

Hiring a divorce paralegal is a good compromise; it is in between a do-it-yourself divorce and hiring an attorney. It can reduce some costs on the final bill, especially compared to hiring an attorney. Keep in mind that these savings are available because divorce paralegals provide a low level of assistance and no legal advice, in comparison to an attorney.

Choosing the Right Divorce Professional

Because each divorce is prompted by unique circumstances and individuals, it is impossible to prescribe a one-size-fits-all method for finalizing a divorce. Each professional and approach has some benefits, depending on the situation. A divorce paralegal is a great way to save money on a potentially expensive undertaking—especially for couples who can remain relatively amicable, and need only a simple divorce with few assets to divide between the two.

Ensure that you are hiring a properly credentialed professional within the field. Having the right professionals on your team is crucial to the overall success of your divorce, as well as your financial future. With the right research and guidance, a divorce paralegal could be a great addition to your divorce team.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Want more free divorce advice and tips?

Subscribe to the Divorce and Your Money Podcast, trusted by over 50,000 people across the United States.

Aug 3, 2017
It’s difficult to predict the outcome of divorce. However, there’s one statement that applies almost universally: most people have more options for their settlement than they realize. There are ways to structure a settlement that most people don’t think about, particularly when you are settling out of court.
 
One option that many people don’t consider is doing a lump sum payment for spousal support or child support. Spousal support is often done as a monthly payment over a certain period of time. However, you could do one large payment, or a few large payments, instead.
 
In some cases, this won’t be an option, because the spouse who is paying support needs to have multiple years’ worth of support in their savings. However, when it is a possibility, it is worth considering.  
 
One of the biggest benefits in paying or receiving a lump sum payment is that you are done dealing with your ex-spouse, with the exception of child custody. It can be a big burden lifted. If you will be receiving spousal support, you don’t have to worry about whether they are going to make their payment every month. If you will be paying spousal support, it can bring up a lot of emotions every month when you write that check.
 
When you do a lump sum payment, there are different tax considerations. For monthly spousal support or child support, the person who is paying support gets a tax deduction for that amount, and the other spouse receives it as taxable income. However, with a lump sum payment, there is no tax deduction, so the person who is paying the support pays the taxes.
 
A lump sum payment will be a smaller amount than the total monthly payments would be. For example, if you were to receive $10,000 a year for ten years, you would receive a total of $100,000. However, a lump sum payment might be a check for only $70,000. Receiving $70,000 today is the same as receiving $100,000 over ten years. If you’re interested in why this is, you can look into present value calculations. It’s a well-accepted mathematical formula that takes into account the interest that you would receive over time. Therefore, with a lump sum you aren’t paying (or receiving) less money, it’s just a question of timing.
 
To decide whether a lump sum will be right for you, you need to know yourself. If you will be paying spousal support, will you be bitter every month when you pay that money? Some people don’t mind it very much, but others have a very negative reaction to every spousal support payment. If you will be receiving spousal support, are you able to manage your money so that you can make that money last? Are you able to stick to a financial plan? Getting that much money up front is almost like winning the lottery – and 70% of lottery winners go bankrupt within five years. It’s very tempting to spend money when you have a large amount in the bank.
 
Another thing to consider is how much you trust your ex-spouse. Do you trust that your ex-spouse will make their payments on time? If they start missing payments, you may have to get the courts involved. Your ex-spouse may fall on hard times themselves, like losing their job. Conversely, if you are paying child support in a lump sum, can you trust your ex-spouse to manage their money? If the money runs out, you will still want your children to be provided for.
 
Paying spousal support in a lump sum can solve some financial complexities, so it’s something to consider as you work out your divorce settlement.  
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Aug 2, 2017

Going through a divorce is certainly not the end of the world. In fact, it is the beginning of a brand-new life. Throwing a divorce party gives you the ability to cleanse yourself of your past relationship and start anew. If you cannot seem to get started with the party planning, consider these unique ideas for hosting the greatest divorce get-together you can imagine.

 

Let the Good Times Roll

Are you the type of person that loves great music and having a good time? Based on 80’s rock ’n’ roll and hair metal, this divorce party idea is great for people of all ages.

If you are in the mood for a creative DIY event, consider going to your local thrift store and buying LPs. You can have your guests customize different LP labels about things they remember about your past relationships and turn them into titles for songs or albums.

The best part about a rock ’n’ roll themed party is that you can play all of the quintessential breakup songs from the 80s, which helps add to the party atmosphere.

You can also serve delicious beverages that everyone loves, but create different names for the drinks. A few examples include: Gin & Toxic (gin & tonic), Bum & Coke (rum & Coke), and Divorcetini (Martini).

 

Backyard Bonfire

Hosting a backyard bonfire can be both a great time with family and friends and a ritual to help you begin your new life. Aside from being able to serve crowd favorites (such as sausages, hamburgers, chicken, and beer), you can easily set up a bonfire in your backyard or at a nearby park or beach.

At the bonfire station, have a variety of different pieces of memorabilia from your relationship. You and your friends will be able to burn all of the items you have selected to start the healing process. Whether it includes photographs, old clothes, or keepsakes, it is the perfect way to feel rewarded and cleansed.

The best part: At the end of the night, you can finish the party off with s’mores. You can even get personalized chocolate-bar wrappers related to divorce with sayings such as, “Now That I’m Divorced, I Want to Have S’more Fun.”

 

Divorce Funeral

Funerals are a remarkable way to get closure. With a divorce funeral, you can take a new approach to the traditionally heartbreaking event. Then you can celebrate the death of your marriage and the rebirth of yourself as a newly single person.

A great way to decorate for a divorce funeral is setting up an altar with photos and memories of you and your ex. To light and reflect on your relationship, you can even add votive candles around the photos for your friends and family. But remember, it does not have to be a sad event.

Order a customized coffin cake, and place your wedding ring inside it, symbolizing the death of your married life. The best part about a divorce funeral is that it is incredibly easy to set up because you can take advantage of Halloween decorations, which are available at almost any party store.

 

Online Dating Party

Now that your married life is over, are you ready to get back on the market? If so, why not try online dating? It is an incredibly fun way to encourage yourself to find other interesting singles in your area.

You can print out a variety of different online dating profile forms, and hand them out to family and friends. Have them fill out the dating profiles, based on what they think you would be looking for in a new partner. You might even find that some of the content would be useful for setting up an actual profile.

Try basing the party on a specific dating website, such as Plenty of Fish or Match.com. For Plenty of Fish, you can serve different fish-themed snacks and use orange decorations. Match.com works perfectly with blue-themed beverages and snacks.

 

Conclusion

Throwing a great divorce party is easier than you could imagine, especially if you are in the mood for having some fun. It is a wonderful way for you to let go of the past, and it also gives your friends and family members a way to come to terms with the divorce.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire. 

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Aug 1, 2017
“When your feelings get big — whether they’re sad, or grief or anger or helplessness — slow down and breathe. Really take a moment. If we respond when we’re feeling really emotional, it may not be the real twist that we wanted to make in the long run. It might feel really good in that moment, but it might not be so helpful in the bigger picture.” — Dr. Robbin Rockett
 
In the middle of divorce, the range of emotions can feel overwhelming. In this episode, we interview Dr. Robbin Rockett, a clinical psychologist who experienced divorce. She discusses how to find a support group, why you need a therapist and ways to take care of yourself during the divorce process.
 
You’re going to want to listen to this episode more than once!
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services and a full transcript of this episode. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Jul 27, 2017
This was originally published on Divorce And Your Money here.

Your wedding ring is a big investment. Selling the ring is one of the most popular ways for dealing with it after divorce. Selling it can be very emotionally satisfying. A lot of people also sell it because wedding rings carry a lot of value, and they need the money for lawyers and other costly issues that come with a divorce.

Immediately after a divorce, many people want to sell it right away. Most people understand that they will not get the full value they paid for their ring, but a lot of people settle for less than what they can actually acquire. However, many people get in so much of a hurry that it does not serve them. In order to get the highest, most satisfying payout, you need the right strategy.

However, if you do not want to sell the ring and do not need the money or the satisfaction of getting rid of it, there are other viable options that can be very cathartic.

 

Below are tips for getting the best payout for your wedding ring.

Try Waiting

Most people do not realize that waiting to sell the ring will end up paying much more. The more patience you have with the ring, the more you will end up getting for it.

If you sell your wedding ring out of anger or desperation, you will probably move forward with the first jeweler or gemologist you encounter. Therefore, you could miss out on good negotiation tactics. When you have patience, you can get several offers and create the competitive pricing. Jeweler and gemologists will always have more interest—and therefore higher bids—if they know others are interested in the piece.

 

Try Not to Use It as a Retainer for Your Lawyer

Many people who are desperate to pay their divorce attorney will use their ring as a retainer. Down the line, you could receive much more benefit if you can get a loan instead. Lawyers will pay pennies on the dollar, much less than any jeweler or gemologist would offer, especially if you shop around.


Getting Estimates

To get the best estimate and therefore the highest bid, gather as much documentation about the ring as possible. The more documentation you have, the more ways you have to appraise it. Any piece can be taken to a fine jewelry appraiser, but they will be much more impressed with a thorough, documented history of the ring, as will gemologists and diamond specialists.

After you have gotten several appraisals and a thorough amount of paperwork for your ring, auction houses like Sotheby’s are one of the best ways to get the most amount of money for your ring. They will document everything, including the appraisals, and gather interest before the actual auction. That way, you have a better chance of creating a bidding war.

The more people who bid on it, the higher your payout. To keep yourself safe, you must choose to have a reserve. Then you will know that you will end up with your desired amount. You will be glad you waited.

 

Upgrade or Redesign It

You are used to wearing a beautiful piece of jewelry, and this ring has meaning to you.

One choice that many people do not consider is trading the in for a new piece of jewelry, but it can be very healing. Many jewelers will give you store credit for your ring. Often, store credit will be higher than any cash offer you receive, and you will end up with a piece of jewelry that is just as beautiful and valuable as the original. It will also be a symbol that you are moving on.

If you do not want to trade it in, here is another option: change the style of the ring, or turn it into a completely different piece of jewelry altogether, such as a pendant for a necklace. This choice is a great way to mark your new life, and it is a beautiful way for your wedding ring to change with you.

 

Keep It

Perhaps you have a sentimental attachment to your ring. Sometimes marriages end amicably, or one person does not want to let go of everything the ring symbolized.

You can still wear it if you want to, though that might not be the healthiest thing to do. However, if you need more time, wearing it is certainly an option. You can also pass it down to children or grandchildren.

If your children are still small, you can keep it in a jewelry box and hold onto it for them, or keep it for yourself as a way to remember the past. That way, you can get a new jewelry box or another kind of container. If you want to add some humor and flare, you can also order little coffins that were specifically made for wedding rings.

Sometimes, you want to keep it, but you do not want it to be where you are tempted to keep looking at it. If that is the case, try putting it in a safe-deposit box. Then you can take your time considering your next course of action. If you know that it is safe and available to pass down or sell, you will have peace of mind as you go through the challenges of life after divorce.

 

Summary

Whatever you choose to do with the ring, think about all of your options. If you do choose to sell it, there are many wrong turns you can take, which can lead you to get significantly less of a payout. Consider hiring a divorce coach, who has experience in selling rings. They know the industry and have valuable contacts.

 

A wedding ring might seem like a small aspect of a divorce. However, its symbolism is huge, so it is a decision you should not make immediately or take lightly.

 

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Jul 27, 2017
This is the final episode in a 7-part series on your post-divorce finances. Some documents and accounts need to be updated by the time your divorce is finalized (or as soon as possible after it is finalized). This practice can potentially prevent many future problems.
 
One set of documents involves estate planning. They contain details about what should be done in the event of your death or incapacitation. The first thing to consider is the last will or trust, which lists the beneficiaries who will receive your assets or property when you pass away. If your ex-spouse is included, this information may need to be changed.
 
Another set of documents is called a medical power of attorney or medical proxy. This document lists the person who will be in charge of making medical decisions if you cannot.  A similar document is the financial power of attorney, which also needs to be updated if you do not want your ex-spouse making financial decisions in the event of your incapacitation. These documents are fairly easy to set up, but if you do not have them, a judge will be forced to make these decisions for you.
 
The next item is a checkbox about most of the financial accounts you may have, which is called the beneficiary designation. Here, you will list the person who will get your account or assets should you pass away. Whether you are preparing for divorce or have finalized it, you should update this information.
 
Other miscellaneous accounts also need to be updated post-divorce. You can check the accounts you have in common with your spouse by checking your credit report. They include bank accounts, credit cards, vehicle registration and titles, insurance policies, and retirement and investment accounts. Depending on the settlement, you should either remove your name or your ex-spouse’s name from these documents and accounts.  You also need to update documents with emergency contact information.
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Jul 25, 2017

Blog originally published on Divorce And Your Money here.

Navigating a complicated divorce on your own is nearly impossible, but regularly seeking the advice of a trusted attorney can become quite expensive. For those who need an objective opinion and guidance, is there another expert that you can refer to for more trivial matters?

Many couples are discovering that a divorce coach is a very cost-effective, useful person to add to their team of professionals when attempting to tie up all of the loose ends associated with their marriage. While not a substitute for legal counsel, a divorce coach can provide professional advice, opinions, and guidance.

So what exactly is a divorce coach? Before you hire one, you will want to see the answers to these three questions:

 

What Is a Divorce Coach?

Typically, a divorce coach is not an attorney, although some professionals will advertise themselves as both. Coaching services are designed to offer individuals personal support and guidance for managing the divorce process, separate from the legal aspect.

For those who believe they may need a therapeutic setting, it should be noted that a divorce coach is not the same as maintaining a relationship with a licensed therapist. However, it can assist you in processing some of the emotions associated with dissolving your marriage.

For example, a divorce coach can help you make the best decisions for your future, based on the facts presented to both of you. Unlike soliciting advice from close friends and family (who are often biased and opinionated), a divorce coach can serve as a trusted third party. By being several steps removed from the emotional and relational aspect of the split, they are more likely to remain neutral and objective.

Furthermore, a divorce coach can educate you about obtaining a divorce at a significantly lower rate than an attorney. Depending on the unique training, skill set, and experience that divorce coaches possess, they may even be able to assist you in organizing your paperwork to file for divorce. Many trained coaches specialize in helping you set goals for yourself and your divorce, and they may even be able to help you gain a better grip on your new financial situation.

 

Why Hire a Divorce Coach?

Assembling the proper team of professionals is critical to success in divorce, which ultimately makes it the key to also establishing a firm financial future for yourself. Unfortunately, hiring the most qualified professionals can come at a relatively high cost. Consider the fact that an attorney will charge per phone call, per minute, and per meeting. By the end of your divorce, those extra questions and phone calls can really add up to an exorbitant bill.

A divorce coach offers a unique service by providing objective advice for your future—without the high price tag of an attorney.

They typically charge less per minute or per meeting, and hiring a divorce coach can help lower your attorney’s fees. Because they can help you make decisions and work out responses to emotional scenarios in advance, they can reduce the amount of time spent with your attorney. Your divorce coach can also usually answer basic questions regarding the divorce process, which prevents you from making unnecessary, costly phone calls to your divorce attorney.

Particularly when negotiating a settlement with your spouse, divorce coaches can offer unbiased opinions, which are separate from the legal process (instead of basing recommendations on the ease of negotiations). They can give you space to consider the emotional aspects and ramifications of decisions, even though they are not therapists.

 

What Benefits Come with a Divorce Coach?

Beyond the cost savings associated with hiring a divorce coach, there are many other positive reasons to consider finding a professional coach in your area. For many individuals, working with a divorce coach puts them in a position of power.

This decision grants you the feeling of control over the situation at hand, even though a professional is still guiding you through each step of the process. Setting goals and working through your emotions in the midst of your divorce can help you gain a better grip on the psychological toll that divorce can often take.

A good, well-qualified divorce coach can also give you some insight into planning for the future. Many coaches are qualified to help you look at your financial information and begin planning for a new income and lifestyle after you are single. If you take this step early in the process, you will be more prepared for bills, savings, and all of the other critical financial decisions that you will face over the coming months as you re-establish your own household.

 

Finding the Right Divorce Coach

Hiring a divorce coach may seem like a simple way to make muddling through the divorce process simpler, healthier, and more cost-effective. While separate from a relationship with a divorce lawyer or therapist, a divorce coach offers a unique selection of services, which can help you navigate the process with increased ease.

When you begin your search for a qualified divorce coach, make sure to check all of their qualifications. In order to take a closer look at your finances, you may want to find a professional who has experience in money management or financial planning. Also consider the training, classes, and certifications they have earned to be divorce coaches.

Assembling a team of the best professionals is critical to success, and you should definitely consider your divorce coach’s qualifications before hiring. By settling for someone who is less than qualified, you could miss out on all the benefits that a divorce coach can offer.

 

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Jul 25, 2017
This episode is the sixth part in a series about your post-divorce finances. If you have not already heard the first five parts of this series, be sure to listen to them because they build upon each other.
 
By now, you should have outlined your financial goals, found out how to choose a financial advisor, and learned some key financial terms and concepts. Even if you are early in the divorce process, planning ahead will help you know what you need to think about during the divorce.
 
How do you know that your financial advisor is doing a good job? You may not keep the same advisor for the rest of your life, and in some cases, you may want to consider changing advisors. Here are some tell-tale signs that you may want to change sooner rather than later:
 
1) Your investment performance is worse than the benchmarks.
 
Monitoring your investment performance is an important part of assessing your investment strategy. For a given year, what return are you receiving on your accounts? Of course, stocks fluctuate from day to day and year to year. To see how your investments are performing, compare them to benchmarks (i.e., groups of other stocks).
 
For example, the S&P 500 is an index of the top 50 stocks in the US. Perhaps your stocks went up 5% in one year, but the S&P 500 went up 7%. If so, you may want to ask your advisor why. However, perhaps the stock market as a whole went down one year, but you lost more money than the benchmark. If so, that is a problem.
 
If you see a trend where your portfolio is repeatedly performing worse than the benchmark year after year, you should strongly consider making a change. We recommend that you do your own research to learn what the best benchmarks are to accurately compare your portfolio.
 
2) Your investment portfolio is overly complicated.
For most people, a few investments are enough. Those investments might be funds, such as an index fund that contains 500 stocks. However, each investment will be a single line item in your portfolio.
 
Reportedly, Warren Buffet, a great investor, plans for his money to be invested in just two funds after he dies: 10% in short-term government bonds, and 90% in Vanguard’s low-cost S&P 500 index fund. Keep in mind that Buffet is a billionaire, but the point is that it is fine to have a simple portfolio. You should understand every investment in your portfolio. If you have 50 different line items in your portfolio, it probably is not a good sign.
 
3) You have red-flag investments in your portfolio.
You should probably not have some types of investments in your account if you are listening to this podcast. You are unlikely to need any high-fee investments; they are probably unsuitable for you and your lifestyle. Low-fee investments will help you earn more money over time from your investments.
 
Below is a list of investments that are not appropriate for most people. If you have these investments, you should reconsider keeping them:
  • Structured products
  • Annuities
  • Hedge funds
  • Private equity funds
  • Any kind of illiquid fund, which involves locking your money up for 2 years or more
  • Options
  • Any sort of directional strategy
  • Anything that cannot be explained in a few sentences, or that takes up more than one sheet of paper to explain in-depth
  • Anything that has high fees (over 1.5% for any investment fund)
 
To decide if your financial advisor is doing a good job for you, you should look at the three points above. Of course, they are general recommendations, so please take your own circumstances into account. Remember to seek professional guidance about making the best decision for you.
 
In the next episode, we will discuss the financial documents that you will need to update after your divorce.
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Jul 20, 2017
This was originally published on Divorce And Your Money here.

 

Dealing with the legal aspects of divorce can be convoluted, time-consuming, and frustrating. Therefore, it can seem overwhelming. The attorneys on both sides want to start with as much information as possible. You can hire divorce attorneys to gather and exchange this information.

This process is called an interrogatory or discovery, and it can work against you if you are not careful. Below is an explanation of the process. That way, you can understand it a bit better and proceed with more knowledge and caution.

 

What Is Discovery?

In any legal proceeding, each side has information that the other side needs before moving forward with negotiations or going to court. Remember, that information is exchanged during the discovery process.

There are several types of discovery for legal proceedings. The discovery for a divorce is called an interrogatory because of the way the questionnaire is designed.

Most states have a limit to the number of items on the interrogatory questionnaire. That way, one side does not bog the other side down with too much busywork. If given the chance, some lawyers would give the opposition an amount of information that is impossible to acquire.

A maximum response time is also allowed, which ensures that the divorce does not get held up because one side takes too much time with the discovery. The usual response time is around 30 days, but you should follow up with your state to make sure. There is an option to ask for an extension, but for it to be granted, you will need to show a good reason and an open line of communication with the other side.

 

Financial Interrogatory

This interrogatory involves the exchange of financial information for the division of property and alimony.

These questionnaires vary, but they universally ask for the following information in one form or another:

  • An itemization of income and assets
  • A record of how often you are paid
  • A list of all bank and investment accounts
  • The identity of witnesses you will be using in the case
  • Exhibits and evidence you will be using if the case goes to court

 

Custody Interrogatory

This exchange of information is used to determine the custody of the children, which is when a lot of divorces get difficult. It is never a good idea to let any kind of emotional response through in a discovery document, so try to remain as factual as possible.

The interrogatory will mainly consist of questions about your spouse, especially regarding anything that might deem them as an unfit parent.

If you make any allegations claiming that your spouse is unfit, make sure that they are accurate. Then you can easily back them up with a good amount of proper evidence. If you are stretching the truth in any way, it will backfire and make you look bad in the eyes of the court.

There will also be a list to prove childcare expenses so that any child-support deals can be worked out.  The requested expenses will mainly consist of:

  • Tuition and school supplies
  • Babysitters
  • Clothing
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Medical treatment

There is also a space on the custody interrogatory, where you can respond to any allegations that have been made against your character. Make sure to provide as much evidence as possible that proves that the allegations are false, which can include character-witness affidavits, affidavits from teachers and coaches, emails, and texts.

 

Watch Out for Trick Questions

One cannot stress how important it is to follow instructions to the letter. It is a lawyer’s job to try to get more out of the other side whenever possible, so bear in mind that any interrogatory used in a divorce proceeding will use as much legalese as possible. It is always a good idea to get outside consulting, either from a lawyer or a divorce coach. Then you can make sure that you have not missed anything, and that you have not provided too much information.

Make sure that you have checked, rechecked, and triple-checked everything. This process is another reason why it is a good idea to hire an outside consultant. Objective, fresh eyes will help you see mistakes, especially anything that is missing, which could count against you in court.

Do not put this process off until the last minute. It makes you more vulnerable to mistakes, and it raises the impact of the stress of the divorce, which is already going to be stressful enough.

As you can see, an interrogatory is one of the most important parts of your divorce process. To move forward in a way that benefits you, you need to answer interrogatories that your spouse’s divorce attorneys send you in the best, most strategic way possible.

The best strategy is to supply exactly the right amount of information, but it is extremely difficult to implement. You need your attorney to go through it with you, but it can be time-consuming. And remember, lawyers’ billable hours can be very costly.

To save yourself headaches, ask your attorney to help you with the interrogatory process. They have been trained to know exactly how to handle these kinds of questions to maximize your benefit.

Whichever way you choose to go, it is always advised to get started early. The sooner you get it filled out, the sooner the divorce can wrap up, and you can move forward.

 

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

 

Jul 20, 2017
This episode is the fifth part in a series about your post-divorce finances. This series will help you make more informed decisions about your finances during and after your divorce. If you have not already heard the first four parts of this series, be sure to listen to them because they build upon each other. This episode will use a lot of the terminology that was explained in the last episode.
 
Here, we will discuss the investments you will need in your post-divorce life. Investments are a very complicated topic, and people spend their entire careers specializing on a single facet of investing. Therefore, this series will only be a brief introduction.
 
When you sign your divorce papers, you will usually find yourself with a sum of money. The amount will vary, but you will probably not want to leave it in a bank account. Rather, you will more than likely want to invest it so that you will see better returns.
 
Most of you have many years left ahead of you, so you will want to plan for the rest of your life. Keep in mind that you do not need to rush to invest as soon as the divorce is settled. Many people take some time to settle into their new lives before making major financial decisions.
 
To keep it simple, you will probably want to invest in a mix of stocks and bonds. More elaborate investments are unnecessary. The sooner you expect to withdraw that money, the more bonds you should have.
 
Stocks suffer from the volatility of the market. Therefore, if you are older and your portfolio is stock-heavy, you may find that an economic downturn has a severe financial effect on you. However, if it will be many years before you need to use that money, it makes sense to invest in stocks. As long as the economy continues to grow, your stocks could increase in value over the long-term. If you wait out any short-term volatility, you will receive higher returns.
 
Bonds have less volatility, although they also have lower returns. If you are near retirement, then your investment portfolio will probably have more money invested in bonds than stocks. You want to have the certainty that the money will be there when you need it.
 
Depending on your financial advisor, you may consider commodities (e.g., gold, oil, wheat) or real estate. However, mutual funds and hedge funds are still essentially investments in stocks and bonds that are managed for you.
 
Investment returns are uncertain, but one thing that is certain is that lower fees will give you better returns over the long term. For both stocks and bonds, index funds have lower fees. There is nothing wrong with a simple, boring investment portfolio.
 
Ultimately, it will be best if you understand what you are investing in. If you do not understand it, you do not have to put your money into it. You will need to do further research to understand all of your options, but remember that a lower-cost option will ultimately benefit you in the long run.
 
In the next episode, we will discuss how to tell if your financial advisor is doing a good job for you.
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Jul 18, 2017
"After divorce or a big life change, whatever it is, and you’re on your own, just take some time to get acquainted, get back with yourself, figure out what you’re doing, what’s important to you, and get up running. That’s really the first place you start before making any rushed financial decisions, because that’s a good way to make a big error without thinking about it.”
 
Marriage over. Divorce papers signed. Money transferred. Rest of your life begins. Now what?
 
One challenge after divorce is figuring out who can help you plan your finances for the rest of your life. There are many different financial advisors (and people who call themselves financial advisors), investment strategies, terminology, and calculations to consider after divorce. How do you begin to make the right decisions?
 
In this episode Shawn is interviewed by Clinical Psychologist Dr. Robbin Rockett, Psy. D, the host of “Solo Parent Life” podcast.
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services and a full transcript of this episode. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Jul 13, 2017
This episode is the fourth part of a series on your post-divorce finances. If you have not already heard the first three episodes, please go back and listen to them first. Even if you are in the early or middle stages of a divorce, this series will help you define your financial goals for the rest of your life. It is important to define those goals early in the divorce process, so that you know what is important to negotiate throughout it.
 
This episode will discuss finance and investment terminology that you need to know while going through your divorce. We will just cover some of the most important terms, so that you can follow these finance conversations more easily.
Here are 13 key financial terms to know:
 
Asset – anything you own that has value (such as a house, car, computer, baseball card collection, or investment account)
 
Debts – money you owe to other people (such as loans and credit cards)
 
Balance sheet – a summary of all of your assets and all of your debts on one page. This sheet covers the same information as a financial affidavit in a divorce. It is important to note that a balance sheet is a snapshot of your financial situation on a particular date, because assets can fluctuate in value over time.
 
Stock – ownership in a company (same as equity). It can be a share of a publicly traded stock, or an equity in a private company (such as a small business).
 
Bond – money that you loan as an investment, typically to a company or government. You will be paid interest until they are ready to repay the loan. Keep in mind that bonds are a very complicated topic.
 
Portfolio – the combination of investments that you own. They can be stocks, bonds, real estate, any other type of investment, or a combination of different types.
 
Asset allocation – the percentage of your portfolio in stocks, bonds, or other investment types. For example, a younger person may have an asset allocation of 80% stocks and 20% bonds, whereas an older person might have a higher percentage of bonds and real estate.
 
Risk – uncertainty about how your assets will perform. Some forms of investment carry more risk than others.
 
Index – a group of stocks or investments. They may group similar stocks (such small companies, large companies, and international companies), bonds, or other investments. Often, they are followed over time to measure how the group is performing, or how a country’s economy is doing. Therefore, they are often used as benchmarks (such as NASDAQ and S&P 500). One related financial concept (that we will not be able to cover in this episode) is a type of investment called index funds, but you can research it on your own to learn more.
 
Mutual fund – a common type of investment that involves a company pooling money from different investors. This combined money is invested by a manager, and each investor’s returns are carefully measured. The investment strategies for mutual funds vary; they may invest in stocks, bonds, real estate, or international companies.
 
Hedge fund – similar to a mutual fund, but typically with a very high minimum investment ($500,000 and up, depending on the fund).
 
Capital gain – the amount of money that you receive when selling an investment that exceeds the price you paid for it. For example, if you bought a house for $100,000 and sold it for $120,000, you would have a capital gain of $20,000. This term is important because you will owe capital gains tax on that $20,000. During your divorce, you will need to be aware of how much capital gain each of the assets you will receive will have, so that you are not stuck with a large, unexpected tax bill.
 
Inflation – the concept that prices of goods and services generally increase over time. Costs of everything from gas to bubblegum to homes are higher today than they were fifty years ago, because of inflation.
 
If you would like to learn more about finance, start regularly reading the Wall Street Journal. If you look up terms and companies that you do not know, you will learn a lot about the finance world. In the next episode, we will talk about which types of investments to consider when you plan your post-divorce finances.
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Jul 11, 2017
This was originally published on Divorce And Your Money here.

Abandonment divorce, also known as desertion, is basically defined as one spouse leaving against the will of the other spouse. Sometimes, this situation occurs when one spouse leaves and is never heard from again. Other times, it can happen when things seem to be going well, and there are no signs of unhappiness; then all of a sudden, divorce is sought, and they become cold, distant, and completely different.

Whichever way abandonment divorce happens, it is often traumatic and brutal. Your world will feel like it is falling apart. However, there are ways to stop the downward spiral that inevitably comes from something this heartbreaking.

 

1) Know Your Rights

Some states require a certain amount of time. Most say a year, but some require more time before abandonment or desertion can be claimed for divorce. Make sure to look up your state laws to see how long you have to wait.

Be aware that some situations do not count as grounds for abandonment, including a mutual agreement to separate, unexpected military service, and fleeing an abusive situation. Even though these reasons are valid, they make closure more difficult.

A judge will decide whether there is a case for abandonment on a case-by-case basis, which means you will have to provide ample evidence that your spouse disappeared without any support or warning.

Sometimes, it can be hard to prove abandonment. You will have to prove that they left of their own free will, or have not been present in the marriage. You will also have to prove that they have not been financially contributing to anything in the household or family. It takes a lot of work. It will feel a lot less overwhelming if you seek help with collecting evidence as soon as possible. A divorce coach can help you find the evidence you need.

 

2) Counseling

Your confidence will take a hit. It is hard not to take abandonment personally, even though you should not. The trauma of the whole situation will lead to much confusion and many unanswered questions. An objective observer, such as a therapist, can help you see things with a better perspective.

In all likelihood, you will have an obsession for wanting answers that may never come, which is perfectly natural. You should be kind to yourself during this natural grieving process. A therapist will help you see how to accept that some questions may never be answered.

These emotions are powerful. If you try to deal with them all by yourself, it will only lead to burnout or breakdown, so allow yourself to seek the help you need.

 

3) Acceptance

What happened was wrong, and accepting that fact is the only way to move on. Accept that it has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with your spouse. This acceptance can go a long way in helping you heal from abandonment divorce.

Many people who choose abandonment have mental health problems. Once you are able to realize this fact, you will see that it has nothing to do with your worth.

 

What if They Come Back before a Year Passes?

If they come back and can prove it, the clock resets. Therefore, if they leave again, you have to wait another year—or whatever the amount of time is in your state—before you can file for abandonment divorce.

Also, the amount of time that they remain when they return does not factor into this law.  They could return for a single day with the intention of working things out. In some cases, spouses will go back and forth between returning and disappearing, just so they can avoid divorce.

This situation will make abandonment much more difficult to be grounds for divorce. A divorce professional can help you figure out the direction to go in this kind of situation.

Sometimes, it might be better to look for other grounds, which might also apply to your situation. You have options; abandonment is just one of them. Emotional abuse is often the next option spouses choose as grounds.

Whichever way you go, you will need to collect evidence. Make sure you have all the information that is required by your state.

If you experience abandonment without a prior warning that anything was wrong, it will likely put you in panic mode and make you highly emotional, which is perfectly understandable. Subsequently, many people overlook options they never knew they had.

Consider talking to a divorce coach, so that you can have an objective observer guide you through this tumultuous time. A divorce coach will know where to look when you are feeling overwhelmed. Whichever route you choose, just remember that it is not the end of the world. It will get better, and you will find yourself again.

 

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Jul 11, 2017
This episode is the third part in a series on managing your finances after divorce. Although it might feel far away, the day will soon come when you need to plan for the rest of your post-divorce life. This series will help you do that. In the first part, we discussed three key goals to keep in mind for your life after divorce. The second part covered different types of financial advisors, as well as the one question you need to ask to find out if a financial advisor will act in your best interest. If you have not listened to those two episodes yet, please do!
 
In this episode, we will discuss how to choose a financial advisor in more detail. Feel free to meet with several financial advisors throughout this process. They will not charge you for the initial meetings until you hire them. It is recommended that you interview at least 3-5 financial advisors to find one that is right for you. Then you can compare proposals and get the financial advisors to compete with each other. This episode will give you tips about what to ask during the interview process.
 
There are three main questions to cover when interviewing a financial advisor. They will not be quick answers. You will have to work together to get to a final answer. The three topics are:
 
1) Can they make a budget and financial plan for you?
Remember the three key goals from the first part of this series:
  • Get out of debt.
  • Save for retirement.
  • Have an emergency fund.
 
A financial advisor can help you prepare a budget to meet these goals. You will need to share information about your income, assets, and debts to make a plan. Even if you are not in the place that you want to be (or you have made some financial mistakes in the past), a financial advisor can help you reach your goals. Ask them to prepare a budget and a financial plan. Make sure they explain it and that it makes sense to you. You can compare the different financial plans from the 3-5 advisors that you are interviewing, and see which one you prefer.
 
2) What kind of investment portfolio do they recommend?
They may recommend stocks, bonds, mutual funds, index funds, or a combination. A future episode in this series will talk about these different investments in-depth. Get a detailed proposal from each prospective advisor, compare them, and do your own research. You can even give each advisor the proposals from their competitors, and ask them to explain why their proposal is the best one.
 
3) What fees do they plan on charging you?
Broadly speaking, there are two levels of fees:
  • Fees for the specific investments they recommend
  • Fees that the investment advisor charges to manage your assets (typically a percentage of your assets)
 
There is an entire chapter in Managing Private Wealth: Principles that is devoted to fees. It is a complicated topic, so this episode will only cover the basics. To simplify, you can ask each financial advisor what the total annual fees will be for all of the investments they are recommending. Typically, they will quote it to you in terms of a percentage of your assets. Be sure to translate that percentage into a dollar amount, so you will know exactly what you will be paying.
 
You can often negotiate better fees by considering multiple advisors at the same time, because they will compete with each other. These fees will add up over the years. Depending on how much you are investing, you could save tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars by negotiating lower fees.
 
Conclusion
There is one red flag to keep in mind as you interview advisors: if they guarantee you a certain return, run away. Responsible financial advisors will not guarantee anything, but scammers will.
 
The next episode will cover some important financial terminology, so that you can be better prepared for conversations with financial advisors. Then you can plan for your post-divorce life.
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Jul 6, 2017
This episode is the second part of a multipart series on your post-divorce finances. Part 1 discussed the three essential financial goals to think about as you plan your post-divorce life. Even if you are not very far along in the divorce process, your divorce will be over at some point. Therefore, this series will help you plan for the rest of your life.
 
In this episode, you will get an overview of financial advisors and financial planners, including what these terms mean and how to choose one. Many people do not understand how the finance industry works. The fact is that the incentives in the finance industry are often not structured to benefit you (the investor). Financial firms are businesses, and like any business, their goal is to make money. It is very important for you to know about the different kinds of financial professionals, and how they make their money. There is one critical question to ask a financial advisor that you are thinking about working with: “How do you get paid?”
 
This question might seem intrusive to the average person, but it is important for you to know what kind of pay structure they are under. They may get paid directly by you, or they may receive commissions. But generally, they get a fixed fee that you agree upon. Regarding commissions, they may receive one every time you buy or sell an investment, or they may charge you a markup on the cost of the investment. Because they are compensated to sell you certain financial products, their incentives are not necessarily in your best interest.
 
Like stockbrokers, these professionals can be considered brokers, or they may be “dually registered,” which means they receive both fixed fees and commissions. If they state that their securities are offered by a certain financial institution, it is an indication that they are receiving commissions.
 
Fee-only financial advisors (not to be confused with fee-based) charge you a fixed fee— whether it is to create a budget or financial plan, or to manage your investments. In the latter case, they are often paid a fixed percentage of your assets each year. (The typical fee is 0.5 – 1%.) Fees can add up over time, so it is wise to negotiate for the best fee possible, which the next episode will discuss further.
 
Financial advisors are not necessarily required to act in your best interest, which surprises many people. But advisors who receive commissions can actually recommend things that are not in your best interest.
 
The finance industry has a word for a financial advisor who must act in your best interest: a fiduciary. This person is legally required to act in your best interest, and they do not receive commissions. They only receive a fixed fee that you pay them. So rather than asking prospective financial advisors how they get paid, you can simply ask, “Are you a fiduciary?” If the answer is “no,” you should strongly consider looking elsewhere. Brokers can be useful in certain situations, but it is important to understand how their business works. That way, you will not get harmed by it.
 
In the next episode, you will learn some key tips for interviewing your post-divorce financial professionals.
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Jul 5, 2017
This was originally published on Divorce And Your Money here.
 

A separation can be a confusing financial time. If you are still legally married but living apart, deciding who should pay the bills can be a difficult endeavor. Significant financial strain accompanies the attempt to maintain two separate households on the same income, but remember, the consequences for letting bills slide can be severe.

Below, you can find some practical answers to your top questions about paying the bills during separation:

 

Who is responsible for the payments?

In most cases, there is one clear-cut answer that makes it a little easier to divide up responsibilities. The spouse who has their name on the bill each month is usually the one who is ultimately responsible for issuing payment on a regular, timely basis.

In some scenarios, such as a mortgage payment, joint credit card account, or car loan, both spouses may have their name on the bill. When both spouses are listed as responsible parties to the debt, failure to pay those bills on time will result in credit damage to both parties.

You will need to consider the long-term ramifications of missing payments when you are financially responsible and able to pay. Even if you feel that it is your partner’s responsibility to cover that expense, you should still make sure that payment is issued for each and every bill. Otherwise, you could incur severe credit damage, which will make it difficult to qualify for future loans or mortgages.

Who should pay for what?

The decision about who is responsible for payments is largely a personal one, which is based on the unique factors of your marriage and divorce (including your finances, emotions, and ongoing relationship).

The spouse whose name is listed on the bill is usually responsible for that bill, but it the specifics of the marital home can get complicated. For example, one spouse may have their name on the mortgage, while the other continues to reside in the marital home. Household expenses can be shared, but they may not be equally split between spouses, depending on the income level of each partner.

If one spouse pays all of the mortgage and household expenses, even while maintaining their own separate residence, you may have significant financial repercussions before the divorce is finalized. This cost can add up to thousands of dollars, which is a major disadvantage to the responsible party.

 

Can you receive temporary spousal support?

It should be no secret that the incomes of two spouses are not always equal. If one person is a significantly higher earner than the other, the financially disadvantaged spouse may be able to request temporary spousal support while they try to figure out their newly single income. This support may also apply during situations when one spouse has been out of the workforce for an extended period of time.

Temporary spousal support is not likely to cover every penny of your expenses, but it can certainly be a welcome addition to your monthly income for a period of time. It can assist with paying bills while you search for a better job or a higher-paying position in your current field. The financial gaps can be substantially lessened, giving you breathing room and a better opportunity to establish financial security for your single lifestyle.

The additional benefit to this method of gaining assistance in paying your bills is that it does not have long-term consequences for your credit. The bills have a greater chance of being paid on-time with the financial assistance of your spouse, so it is more likely to make sure your credit score stays in pristine condition. As a result, you will be more eligible for future loans, mortgages, or credit cards.

 

Final thoughts

As you split your household into two separate residences, making decisions about who should pay for which bills is a stress-fueled time for every couple. Especially in situations where income was not equally divided between the two spouses, there can be serious financial strain from covering all of the new household expenses. Opting to ignore past-due bills will only create more headaches for your financial future by wreaking havoc on your credit score, including eligibility for future loans and programs.

Ultimately, the decision about who should pay the bills during a separation will be based upon the unique relationship of the couple, as well as their financial status. To make the best decision for both of you, consider what each spouse is able and willing to pay during this time.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

 

 

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Jul 4, 2017
This episode begins a multipart series about post-divorce finances. Even if you are early in the divorce process, this series will help you plan your life after your divorce.
 
After making a settlement, many people find themselves wondering what the next step is for their finances. Should they start by making a budget, choosing a financial advisor, or deciding what investments to make? This process can be daunting, so this series will help you navigate those decisions.
 
Imagine that you are at the end of your divorce process. Your assets have been divided, and it dawns on you that you have to plan the rest of your life. Many people have to financially rebuild after divorce. You may need to recalibrate some of your goals. This episode focuses on the goals that you will need to think about regarding your post-divorce finances. 
 
We can narrow these goals down to three basic areas:
  1. Get out of debt
  2. Save for retirement
  3. Have money for an emergency
 
In order to achieve these goals, you will need a budget to plan your spending, which you should do while negotiating a settlement or going through mediation. As you get to the end of your divorce, take some time to refine the details of your budget. In order to achieve the three goals above, will you need to cut expenses or increase your income? Each of these areas are very in-depth topics on their own. There are many books, professionals, and other resources devoted to each one.
 
The issues we will cover in this series are complicated. In fact, professionals spend their entire careers specializing in these areas, so these episodes will just be introductions. Here are the topics that will be covered in the next five episodes:
  • What kind of financial advisor you should use
  • How to choose a financial advisor
  • What all of the financial terms mean
  • Which types of investments to consider
  • How to know if your financial advisor is doing a good job
 
In the next episode, you will hear some important warnings about the finance industry, and find out if a financial advisor is going to act in your best interest.
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
Jun 29, 2017

This was originally published on Divorce And Your Money here.

When it comes to filing your paperwork at the end of your divorce, it is incredibly important to understand each individual document. Official documents pertaining to your divorce should be easily understood, recognized, and identified, in case you need to access them in the future. In particular, a divorce decree (which marks the official end of the marriage) is one of the most significant documents that you will obtain. All parties should understand what it does, what items it includes, and even how it can be modified.

If you have a few lingering questions regarding what a divorce decree actually is, you are definitely not alone. These frequently asked questions should help clarify your thoughts:

What is a Divorce Decree?

A divorce decree is an official court document containing the final settlement and agreement for your divorce. In order to officially end the marriage, this paper must be signed by a judge, then filed with the court clerk. Your divorce decree cannot be enforced or finalized until this paper is filed with the courts.

The decree by itself typically includes all of the necessary areas of your marital life, which now need to be separated. It is the official answer to questions that pertain to your finances, benefits, property, and childcare or custody arrangements.

What is Included in the Divorce Decree?

If a divorce decree marks the official end of your marriage and establishes your newly single life, what can you expect to find covered in it? Most couples will include everything that they need to jointly address and separate into an equitable settlement. However, first and foremost, it should be noted that the issuance of a divorce decree also typically marks the end of employer benefits from a spouse, including health insurance and other types of coverage.

Most married couples are anxious to receive a divorce decree, which settles the financial aspect of their split. This decree untangles debts and marks the specific obligations of each spouse toward a shared or accumulated debt. According to the judge’s decision, it also divides your property, real estate, and assets (including retirement accounts, savings accounts, and other finances) between the two of you. It is responsible for establishing all of the financial implications of your divorce.

The decree is designed to give clear expectations about the rights and responsibilities for both spouses. Beyond the financial responsibilities already covered, it also includes details for child support and alimony, if applicable. Custody arrangements for any children involved are also typically included in the divorce decree.

Can You Change a Divorce Decree?

A divorce decree can potentially be modified in the future through an appeals process, but only under very specific circumstances. For example, this decree may be changed by a judge if it is found to contain errors in the law. It cannot be altered to revise facts contained within the document that pertain to errors in hearsay. However, if something was divided between the two spouses that was not in accordance with state laws, the divorce decree could potentially be modified.

It may also be altered to reflect changes in income or other financial situations that could affect the payment of child support or alimony. A spouse who is responsible for making monthly child-support payments and takes a lower-paying job may be able to appeal the decision about the specific monthly obligation that is owed. Likewise, a higher-paying job may indicate that a greater percentage of the pay should be allocated toward child support or alimony.

Custody arrangements may also be changed based on the evolving needs of the children. Older children may have a preference about which parent has full custody of them, so a divorce decree could also be modified to reflect:

  • Changes in parenting or life status
  • Any potential moves that either spouse makes
  • Other situations that pertain to the wellbeing of the children, which may call into question previous custody agreements

Covering the Basics

Understanding just what to expect from your official divorce decree is an important aspect of taking charge of your newly single life. You should know exactly what implications the document has, in terms of your financial arrangements and relational arrangements (if children are involved). The divorce decree officially marks the end of your marriage, but it also places you on the path to independence.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

 

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Jun 29, 2017
"The divorce itself is a business transaction. You’re dividing up assets, your cash and your house. The part that is hard to look at as a business transaction is if there are children involved. That becomes much more of an emotional piece. If you can look at it with two paths, one being the business part of it and the rest of it being the children, when there are children, it helps. You’ll be more focused on the children and what the needs are of the children rather than the material things that you may be getting or losing.” - Karen Bigman, The Divorcierge
 
About Karen Bigman
In this episode we interview Karen Bigman, a divorce concierge and divorce coach. She shares her insights from the financial challenges she experienced after getting divorced. To learn more about Karen, you can visit her at thedivorcierge.com/.
 
Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. Visit us at www.divorceandyourmoney.com for personalized coaching services and a full transcript of this episode. If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes, as it will help other people discover this free advice.
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