Does the mere thought of disclosing the truth about your personal finances fill you with fear? Are you living beyond your means? Are you plagued with guilt over mistakes you have made with money? Are you filled with shame over not having saved enough money for retirement?
If your answer to any of those questions is yes, you are not alone. Despite appearances, roughly 65% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and 56% cannot cover a thousand dollar emergency without using a credit card or other form of borrowed money. An estimated 45% of Baby Boomers have no retirement savings.
Heart of a Therapist
If this describes your financial situation, the last thing you want to do is meet with a financial advisor and let him know what is really happening in your life. However, a good financial advisor will be sensitive to the assorted negative emotions surrounding the disclosure of financial records. A financial advisor with the heart of a therapist understands the shame of not having achieved a greater degree of financial security, the guilt over money squandered, and the fear surrounding the prospect of now having to divide what little you might have accumulated. Rather than scolding or shaming you, he will offer hope. No situation is hopeless. No matter what a mess your finances might be in now, your situation can improve.
Your financial advisor should be willing to tell you the hard truths. No one gets a pass on math. In order to be solvent, your outgo must be less than your income. However, for some, the underlying problem is not math. It is behavior. Going forward, new behaviors can be learned. Like creating a workable budget. Like not depending on credit cards to make ends meet. Like building an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses. Like establishing a habit of saving even a small amount each month toward your retirement. A financial advisor can offer practical suggestions and help you create a roadmap to a brighter financial future.
The financial advisor on a collaborative divorce team is called a financial neutral. He is a financial professional who has completed collaborative divorce training and serves the divorcing family as a whole, rather that advocating exclusively for one spouse or the other. The financial neutral will assist you and your spouse in making the best possible decisions regarding the division of assets and debts and regarding cash flow, if any, from one home to the other.
Your financial neutral is an integral part of your collaborative divorce team. The collaborative divorce process is a three-fold approach. There are legal, financial, and emotional aspects to be addressed and none is more important than the others. Do not fear working with your financial neutral. He just might prove to be the most valuable professional on your team. Even within the context of a divorce, gaining control over your finances can be a transformative experience.
Posted by Sheryl Friedrichs, Esq.