Finances

Teaching Your Kids Discipline Through A Savings Account

One of the major pillars of developing teenage independence is to have financial independence. In most cases, children will likely never become financially independent while living at home, since there is no real pressing need. However, that will not always be the case.

So, unless you want your children moving back in with you after college because they can’t manage their finances well enough to support themselves, it is critical that they learn discipline when it comes to their money—and it can all start with learning to save.

Learning To Save An Allowance

For most children, saving money can’t really begin until they have some sort of steady income. Otherwise, it can be difficult to persuade them that they should save whatever money they may receive on their birthdays and Christmas. Since I personally don’t believe in paying for regular house chores, my wife and I have opted to give our children an allowance starting when they are five years old.

I’m not saying spoil your children with an unrealistic allowance, as it is far more likely to develop a sense of narcissism in your teen. Instead, you can try something similar to what our family does, which is the amount they receive is a dollar for how many years old they are. So, my seventeen-year-old daughter receives $17 a week while my ten-year-old son receives $10. As the system is based on their ages, it helps my children feel like it is fairer that they don’t receive the same amount of money.

With the steady “income stream” of a weekly allowance established, it can be far easier to help children learn to save.

Helping Children Set Savings Goals

Even for myself, having a goal to save toward makes it far easier to save my money. For us adults, these goals may look like saving for retirement or for a desired home upgrade. But children often have different goals they consider important.

So, no matter if you wish you had started saving for retirement as a teenager, it is not very likely that saving for retirement in 50-60 years will really appeal to your child. And without your kid’s buy-in, the goal will likely be a failure.

Instead of pushing your money-saving goals onto your children, help them set their own savings goals. Some ideas you may want to offer to kickstart their thinking are:

  • Saving up for a high-end toy or game
  • Putting away money for their first car
  • Set aside money to spend when out with friends
  • Saving for a trip or experience

As you can see, some of these money saving goals can span a shorter time period. But that’s okay. In fact, it is a fairly realistic look at how most adults spend their money. The important thing is that you don’t just step in and give them the money to reach their savings goals.

Allowing Self-Directed Savings Provide Discipline

For example, my oldest daughter liked to buy snacks at school with her allowance, then mall crawl on the weekends. She managed to hold onto enough of her allowance until her weekend mall time, until one week, she was completely out of money to spend.

Naturally, in her mind, I would provide more, but to her surprise, I told her no. Rather than have her learn later in life when it was a bill she couldn’t pay, my daughter went with her friends to the mall but felt the sting of being left out of buying a new accessory and food court fare. That, far more than anything I could have said or lectured, taught her the importance of saving her money.

If you want to help your children save more proactively for the long-term, there are several great kids’ savings account options. All of my children have a savings account with their own long-term savings goals that they determined.

Much of what we teach our children involves practicing lifelong self-care, from learning self-discipline to saving for the future. As you go about teaching your children to save their money, I recommend you keep in mind that learning to be independent and self-sufficient is a lifelong process. It may be frustrating for you and your children at times to practice these techniques of self-care, but it can also be ultimately rewarding.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter

Real Estate Today: It’s a Women’s Market

Home sales remain strong through much of the country, and single women are, in part, to thank for the housing boom. According to CNBC, unmatched maidens are more than twice as likely to buy a house as their brothers, uncles, and male friends. If you’re a lone lady ready to take on the responsibility of homeownership, keep reading for things you should consider, including how to evaluate your finances and ways to ease the burden of moving day.

Checks and Balances 

Your first and most important task when entering the real estate market for the first time is to know what you can afford. There are a number of factors that determine your future home’s value, including your income, outstanding debt, credit score, and current monthly expenses. SmartAsset   Smart Asset explains that a lower debt-to-income ratio may put you in a better position to qualify for a lower interest rate. Even if your credit isn’t perfect, there are still loans available if you have a FICO score of less than 600, although 620-plus will be required for a conventional loan. (Check your credit score at FreeCreditReport.com.)

Regardless of your income, assets, and liabilities, the vast majority of loan products require a down payment of between 3.5 percent and 20 percent of the home’s selling price. The higher the down payment, the lower the mortgage. If you’re purchasing a home after a divorce and you owned mutual property with your former spouse, you can use your portion of the proceeds from the sale of that property as a down payment. Keep in mind, however, that your first mortgage must be satisfied and any equity lines of credit or second mortgage products paid. You may also be required to pay capital gains taxes from the sale.

Once you have an idea of what you can afford, you can begin shopping for a mortgage provider. By speaking with a lender before you attend your first open house, you will have a realistic picture of your financial health and will know precisely what you can afford. Further, as the market remains fiercely competitive, having a pre-approval letter on hand may open more opportunities than would be available to the casual buyer.

When it’s time to begin looking at properties, start at the low end of your pre-approval. Keep in mind that the list price does not accurately reflect your future monthly expenses. In addition to the mortgage payment, you will also be responsible for property taxes, HOA fees (if applicable), PMI, and homeowners insurance. You will also pay closing costs, which Zillow explains can equal 5 percent of your home’s cost. Research the average list prices of homes in the area you want to live and don’t count out the possibility of expanding your search a few miles outside of city limits.

Now that you’ve gotten your finances in order, know how much you can afford, and have narrowed down your search parameters, you’ll need to apply “personal filters” that will weed out homes that don’t fit your lifestyle. Crime rates, access to public transportation, proximity to and quality of local schools, neighborhood amenities (such as nearby parks and playgrounds), and local property tax rates are all things you should consider.

Save the Date 

As the closing date draws near, you’ll want to plan ahead for the day. Consider hiring movers to handle the heavy load and contact the cable, internet, and utility providers for an estimated installation timeline. You will also save yourself lots of headaches and stress if you stay organized throughout the packing process and label boxes clearly so your movers can drop them in the right place at your new home.

Congratulations on your upcoming move. It’s both an exciting and anxiety-filled time, but it’s one made much easier on the mind, body, and soul (not to mention the wallet) if you take the time to know what you’re going into and avoid getting in over your head.

Author of this article, Tilda Moore, researches and writes about educational resources for openeducators.org. She is passionate about helping parents and teachers in providing kids with the best education possible. She works directly with teachers and other public education groups to ensure they are working toward our vision of constructing a reliable database of verified information

What Are the First-Year Costs That Come with Raising a Baby?

When you feel you’re ready to have a baby, it can be exciting as well as overwhelming. Having a baby means expanding your family, but it also means that you’ll have some logistics to consider. Namely, what about the financial considerations that come with having a child?

There are short- and long-term factors to think about. In the short-term, you’ll have to think about the medical costs related to pregnancy and labor and delivery, as well as maternity and paternity leave from your job. You’ll have initial investments for items such as cribs and other baby accessories. Then, you’ll have to think about health insurance for your new child and childcare when you do return to work.

These first-year costs can add up very quickly, and they require planning and strategizing to manage them effectively.

LendEDU recently surveyed 1,000 parents with a child who was at the time of the research, at least a year-old but not older than three. The goal of the research was to determine what to expect when it comes to raising a child and the costs it requires within the first year of the baby’s life. The survey took place over two days in February 2019 and was conducted by online polling company Pollfish.

The following are highlights of the research.

On Average, a Baby’s First Year Will Cost $13,186

The research indicates that the year-one costs for a new baby amount to an average of $13,186, with a median cost of $6,000. This number represents quite a jump from a 2010 USDA report, that showed the average household would spend $12,000 during the first year of a baby’s life.

  • For around ¼ of the poll respondents, first-year spending for a new baby represented anywhere from 21 to 30 percent of annual income.
  • 13 percent said it was 31 to 40 percent of take-home pay, and eight percent said they had to spend up to 50 percent of their income.
  • Eight percent spent more than half of their annual income on costs related to the baby.

How Is the Total First Year Cost Broken Down?

So, more than $13,000 is quite a bit in a year. What is that spent on? The costs break down in the following way, based on the LendEDU research:

  • Toys, diapers, and gear like strollers was the most expensive category. These costs represented 30 percent of total spending, amounting to $3,965.
  • 28 percent of spending went to food, which was on average $3,692 of the total first-year costs.
  • Next was healthcare, taking up 17 percent of total first-year spending.
  • Childcare accounted for 13 percent of first-year costs for a new baby, and behind that was miscellaneous expenses at 12 percent of the total.

Did Parents Save in Advance?

With such high costs associated with having a baby, did parents plan, save and budget in advance of having a child?

58 percent of people who participated in the survey said they started saving money to prepare, although 42 percent said they didn’t budget ahead-of-time. 52 percent of parents who did say they started budgeting and saving didn’t save enough for all costs.

Many parents also underestimated how much it would really cost. The average parent in the survey expected to spend $9,371 on a newborn, with their estimates being off by more than $3,800.

So what’s the takeaway? Babies are expensive, and it’s important for parents to have an idea of just how expensive and start financially planning and preparing as soon as possible before having a child.

Author of this article is Mike Brown  at  lendedu.com/

9 Tips for Men Facing Financial Hardships During Divorce

As a man facing divorce, there is a lot you go through with little support. You might be constantly wondering how things will turn out at the other end- whether or not you will get enough time with your kids, how you and your spouse will work everything out, and so on. One of the major concerns for fathers getting divorced is the time and money spent on the process.

Some men understand the importance of saving money during the divorce process; for other men, some critical divorce issues end up hogging most of their attention. Either way you look at it, finances are a pressing matter worthy of concern during a divorce process.

Since divorces come with a price tag, it is important to consider how much you can afford to shell out in the process. The last thing you want is a lot of money wasted in the divorce process.

Maintain your desired quality of life throughout the divorce process by using these tips.

Build a Trustworthy Team

While going through a divorce, men are often prone to feeling intense emotions. The emotionally charged circumstances might compel you to make the wrong choices. This is when you need a trusted financial advisor, lawyer, and accountant by your side.

These professionals can help you make wise financial decisions all through the divorce process, allowing you to save money you might have otherwise spent in the spur of the moment. Financial decisions should be based on logic more than on emotions. Seek help from a trusted team of professionals to guide you along the economic lines.

Expensive is NOT Always Worthy

Quit believing that all expensive services are the best. You might feel inclined to hire the most expensive lawyer in town to win child custody for men in New Jersey and negotiate alimony.

However, a lot of other factors play a role in determining how efficient any professional is.

Expensive is not always the best. Take the time to understand in depth all the services you need and make informed financial decisions. Considering your spending power and your post-divorce future will help you create a spending limit. Learn about the quality of services offered by various professionals (therapists, lawyers, financial assistants, etc.) and ponder their importance to your situation. Calculated spending will prevent you from wasting money in useless places.

Separate Your Cards and Financial Accounts

You don’t want an emotional drama surrounding finances while going through a divorce. If they are not already, separate your joint accounts and credit cards right away. This will save you the hassle of monitoring how much you or your spouse is spending after filing for divorce.

Often, these issues spring up during the divorce process, opening channels to unnecessary disputes. Reduce the potential for conflict and keep finances straight and simple throughout the divorce process.

Get a Real Picture of Your Budget

Family lawyers for men in Nutley, NJ suggest fathers and men going through a divorce plan and chalk out their budgets during divorce. They also encourage their clients to project their financial needs post-divorce.

The financial picture changes a lot after divorce with one less adult contributing to the household. If there are children involved in your case, consider how much you will potentially spend on their needs.

Track your expenses and cut back where you can. Outlining a crystal-clear budget will help you predict financial responsibilities and plan your expenditure during divorce accordingly.

Straighten Out Financial Imbalances   

If your spouse has always kept track of finances, this needs to change. Try to keep up with the finances as soon as you file for a divorce. You need to know how much money comes into the household and where it is spent. If your spouse has been in charge of finances up until now, ask them to involve you.

Knowing about the flow of finances in your household will help you negotiate a fair settlement when you enter the divorce process. Get on a level footing with your spouse when it comes to handling finances and documenting them.

Set into a New Lifestyle

There are a lot of changes after a divorce. Your income might not allow you to keep the family home, and you might have to do away with some of your habits that involve spending heavily.

Get into a fresh lifestyle where you prioritize your needs and responsibilities and plan finances wisely. Your post-divorce living standard will likely drop to some extent. Prepare for the change to make the process easier.

It makes sense to downsize your expenses and move into a smaller home until you can get back on your feet and afford the lifestyle you are used to.

Strive for Financial Independence

Fathers’ rights allow men to receive alimony payments when their spouse was the higher earner in the household. Either way, aim to be financially independent and not rely on your spouse’s child support or alimony. Life can take unexpected turns, and your spouse might lose their job or need to take time off from work.

When that happens, you should be in a condition to support yourself and your children. Focus on improving your earning capacity so you are prepared to take on any financial challenge in the future.

Protect Valuable Assets

If your spouse might hide or sell assets that were purchased with marital funds, protect them. Know that these assets will be valued and split during the divorce process.

Safeguard these assets while not hiding the fact that they are in your possession. Never sell any property you bought with marital cash during the course of a divorce. You will need to pay for any sold assets at the time of the divorce settlement negotiations.

Avoid Impulsive Decisions

Family lawyers for men advise you to refrain from making any major financial decisions for at least 6 months during your divorce process and after your divorce gets finalized.

Don’t move to a new city or change your job on impulse.

Family lawyers for men believe that with a little caution and patience, men can sail through these hard times. Adapt to circumstances and be prepared for a challenging financial future; men are often the ones who pay child support and alimony while also supporting their own lifestyle.

While divorce can be frustrating and devastating, it’s like any other change that feels highly uncomfortable at first until you settle down in the routine. Know that things will get better. Continue to make the right choices. It is also desirable to take help from therapists to keep your sanity intact and financial advisors to get a clearer picture of your finances and plan ahead of time.

About Author :-

Brad M. Micklin, Esq., is the lead family lawyer Montclair and managing member at The Micklin Law Group, LLC. For more than 22 years, he has helped men through some of the toughest, most emotional experiences in their lives, including child custody battles.

How to Prepare Your Finances to Leave an Abusive Relationship

If you are in an abusive marriage, you may not know where to turn or what to do. Abuse comes in many forms, and financial abuse is more common than you may think. If you’ve been the target of financial abuse, it can make it exceptionally difficult to gather your assets before you leave.

Financial abuse is likely not the only type of abuse you’ve experienced; it is often found in relationships where physical or emotional abuse also exists. In fact, of those who have suffered violence at the hands of a romantic partner, 98% have also endured financial abuse. However, the fear of unstable or inadequate finances can sometimes supersede fear of your own emotional or physical safety. A feeling of instability generally accompanies financial abuse; it can be such an overwhelming feeling that victims are unsure of where to turn. This guide will help you financially prepare yourself to leave an unhealthy marriage.

As an attorney, my experience is in retaining assets for my clients and helping them navigate the financial and emotional aspects of separation. However, your safety should always come first. If you are uncomfortable or feel unsafe following any of the following advice, consult someone who is knowledgeable about domestic violence before proceeding with these steps.

The Tactics of Financial Abusers  

Financial abusers regularly try to control their victim’s ability to acquire and use financial resources. This may mean you have been encouraged to not work or have been completely prevented from doing so. It can also mean you have limited access to bank accounts and financial resources, even if you earned the money yourself. All these abuse tactics are attempts to control someone and make it difficult to leave. Often times, these gaps in employment, unpaid debts, and low credit scores keep the victim in an abusive relationship simply due to fear of the unknown. Common fears amongst victims of financial abuse include:

  • Where will I live?
  • How will I find employment?
  • Can I afford the high interest rates I’m offered as a result of my poor credit score?
  • How can I financially support my children until I start getting paychecks?
  • Will I need to prioritize my basic necessities and give some up to survive?

If you are in an unhealthy marriage and have found the strength within to leave, you’ve already overcome your biggest hurdle. A brighter future is ahead, and you will find support from friends, family, and community members at every turn.

Preparing to Leave an Abusive Spouse  

Before making any changes to your finances, consult a victim advocate. The role of an advocate is to provide information to anyone who is dealing with domestic violence, including helping victims who are planning to leave an abusive marriage. They can help you find housing, transportation, and financial assistance when you leave your relationship. Someone who is trained as a victim advocate will have had extensive safety training, so he or she can help you make safe decisions regarding your finances. There are many online resources for finding your own advocate.

After you’ve consulted a victim advocate, you should begin to save as much money as possible. Whether it’s through a job, some kind of lump sum (like a tax return), or another source of income, having savings set aside when you leave will help ease the financial burden.

You should keep this money in your own bank account–one to which your spouse doesn’t have access. If you work, see if you can have part of your wages directly deposited into your new bank account. You may be able to adjust your tax exemptions and get more money each paycheck; you can deposit the difference in your personal account.

As you’re preparing your savings, make sure to keep any important financial documents – including any you can find from the past several years. This could include tax returns, paystubs, car titles, and more.

Finally, consult several divorce lawyers prior to leaving your spouse. A consultation is the perfect time to get a feel for whether you feel comfortable with the attorney and learn more about how their legal experience applies to your own case. Find an attorney who will fight to help you retain all the assets you need to start rebuilding your finances.

Rebuilding Your Finances After Leaving Your Spouse

The first financial move you’ll want to make once you’re over the hurdle of leaving your marriage is to review your finances, including your income and expenses. You may need a new job to pay for your new housing situation, for example, or it may be wise to get a second part-time job to build some savings.

You can also take time during the divorce to familiarize yourself with your credit report and resolve any debts that accrued. If you haven’t been privy to financial information for years, it’s possible your spouse has been hiding both income and debt from you. By creating a budget that addresses your monthly income, bills, and unpaid debts, you’ll put yourself on the path to financial security and  freedom.

Once you’ve safely left your marriage, it may be necessary to obtain a harassment restraining order or an order of protection against your spouse. A domestic violence lawyer can help you support yourself and your children by negotiating and litigating these legal protections. Consult an attorney if you feel your situation requires either of these orders.

Finally, a financial planner can be a tremendous help when you’re getting back on your feet. While a professional would be ideal, not everyone can afford it. If you’d like the benefits of financial knowledge without the price tag, you can use online resources, books, and even community education classes to learn more about handling your own finances.

About the Author   

Allison Maxim is a collaborative attorney St. Paul MN whose family law firm is Maxim Law PLLC. Allison believes strongly in the benefits of mindfulness in family law. Her background in psychology has given her a greater awareness of and empathy for the difficult situations faced by her family law and divorce clients.    

Article Summary 

Financial abuse is a powerful force keeping many victims in unhealthy relationships. This guide outlines how a victim can prepare his or her finances for long-term prosperity when faced with leaving an abusive relationship. It offers actionable steps to follow both before and after leaving an abusive spouse.

Starting a Small Business: Tips for Parents with Disabilities

starting small businessStarting a small business comes with a lot to consider, from figuring out whether you want a storefront or a solely online company to making sure you have the motivation and energy to put into running everything yourself. When you’re also a parent who is living with a disability, it’s important to also think about the best ways you can make life easier for yourself during the process of getting things off the ground. For some entrepreneurs, working from home is much easier than going into an office every day, but this can present its own set of challenges, especially if you’re a stay-at-home parent.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to get the ball rolling smoothly. First, think about the details: a brick-and-mortar store can bring a lot of benefits, such as bringing in lots of foot traffic, but it can also come with a lot more issues and responsibilities than an online business. Will you keep your stock on-site or dropship? Once you’ve figured out the details, you can move on to the big things, such as securing the necessary financing.

Keep reading for some helpful tips on how to start a successful small business when you’re a parent with a disability.

Understand What It Takes

Starting your own business may sound like a dream come true, but it’s much harder in many ways than finding a job with an established company. You need to be self-motivated, a problem-solver who can minimize distractions at home and get things done even when there’s no one giving you direction. Being able to give your all even when you’re sick or have lots of things going on at home will help you find success as an entrepreneur.

Consider How You’ll Support Yourself

Financing a small business is no small feat; there are many things to consider, from startup costs to maintaining your home and lifestyle until you begin making a profit. Often, new businesses don’t turn a profit for at least a year, although those run exclusively online can save a lot of money by not having a storefront. You might think about a loan or grant for disabled business owners to boost your funds, but make sure you find the right one for your needs. Look online to find out more about the resources available to you.

Think About Your Family

As a parent, you want to ensure that your family is well taken care of while you’re getting your dream up and running. This might mean securing daycare for your children if you’ve been a stay-at-home parent in the past, which can be a big change for everyone. Sit down with your family members and talk about your goals, and plan for the future together. Allowing your children to be involved in the preparation process will help them feel a little bit in control.

Take Care of Yourself

Starting a business can be a dream come true, but it’s also a lot of work, and it can be very stressful even if you’re organized. This is especially true when you’re living with a disability. Practicing self-care can help you reduce stress and anxiety when things become overwhelming, so take time out for yourself when you find things are getting busy. Ask for help when you need it. Get plenty of exercise and eat right, even on busy days.

Starting a plan for your future can be scary, but if you keep in mind that it’s a big step in the right direction when it comes to your goals, you’ll be able to stay motivated no matter how difficult things get. Start with some prep work and do some research online before you make any decisions. As a disabled business owner, juggling parenting and your dreams might sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to stop you from achieving your goals.

Author of this article is Ashley Taylor   ashley@disabledparents.org

Splitting Shared Assets when Divorcing

Divorce proceedings can be extremely stressful and traumatic for everyone involved, even more so when shared assets need to be split. When tying the knot, the last thing couples anticipate is divorce and as a result, few actually plan what would happen to their shared assets should they get divorced.

Over the years, you and your partner will have invested together, saved together and perhaps opened joint bank accounts, and in order to make financial settlements fair, there are a number of factors that have to be taken into consideration before splitting your assets.

Before we continue, it is important to note that how assets are split between a couple will be determined by the relationship. Simply put, the rights of a cohabiting couple will differ from those of a married couple, so bare this in mind.

Step 1:

The first thing you must establish is who legally owns what assets. If you’re in a cohabiting relationship then any investments or savings in your name will belong to you and your partner will not have access to these assets. Likewise, savings or investments made in your ex-partners name will be theirs and you will not be granted access.

However, there are exceptions to the rule. You may be entitled to beneficial interest if you have made contributions towards something in your ex-partners name, such as investing your own money into one of their projects. If this is the case, then you should seek legal advice.

On the flip side, investments or savings made throughout the duration of the marriage will be taken into consideration and divided as part of a financial settlement. Whilst assets amassed prior to the marriage aren’t typically subject to financial settlements throughout divorce proceedings, there is still a chance that your assets are at risk and you should seek legal advice to make sure your savings and investments are protected.

Step 2:

Next, it is time to find out what your savings are really worth in the eyes of the law. If you save money into a savings account such as a cash ISA or cash deposit, it should be pretty easy to get a rough idea of how much your savings are worth as you should be receiving regular financial statements.

However if you have invested in the stock market, or own shares and investment bonds, then it may not be as straightforward when it comes to determining the worth of your assets. This is solely because the value of your investments will differ from week to week, even day to day especially in a volatile and quick-changing market. You should talk to a financial adviser about finding out the value of invested assets tied up in the stock market.

Step 3:

It can be difficult to make sense of the whole process when splitting assets and couples often aren’t aware of how to split their savings and investments. Generally, it depends on where your savings are kept. Cash ISA, shares, investment property or savings accounts – there are a number of ways in which your money can be invested and each will differ when it comes to paying out financial settlements.

Cash ISAs

Cash ISAs can only be held in one individual name and therefore money cannot be transferred from one party to another. If the court has demanded you pay a financial settlement to your ex-partner you must withdraw the money from the account.

Shares

You have a bit more flexibility when it comes to shares as there are a number of different options in which you can pay off a financial settlement. Simply hand over control of the shares, sell the shares or give the value of the shares once sold to another party – it is your choice.

It’s easy to transfer shares, just fill in a J30 form which you can get from the company you initially brought the shares from. Alternativley, if you decide to sell your shares you will need to use the same service you used when buying those shares.

Investment property

If either you or your partner owns a property, then that asset is legally yours/theirs and the other party will have no claim to it – unless contributions have been made. In that case, you will both need to come to an agreement as to how the appropriate party will be paid back.

If you jointly own the property, then you may choose to sell your share to your ex-partner, or buy them out.

Savings accounts

If you plan to transfer money to your ex-partner as part of a financial settlement from a fixed-rate account, then you must first notify your bank so that you do not lose interest. If you are transferring from a normal savings account then you don’t have to give notice.

You should now be fully are of all your legal responsibilities and the claims you can make when it comes to splitting both shared and individual assets when divorcing. We understand how distressing divorce proceedings can be and that is why we have put together this comprehensive guide so that the process can be as amicable, straightforward and stress-free as possible for both you and your ex-partner.

Kerry Smith is the Head of Family Law at K J Smith Solicitors, specialist family law solicitors in Reading that deal with a wide range of issues, including divorce, domestic violence, civil partnerships, and prenuptial agreements. Kerry has over 15 years experience in family law and is recommended by the Legal 500 guide to law firms in the UK.

5 Steps Parents Can Take to Improve Their Family’s Financial Health

5 steps

Raising a family is expensive. If you have kids or are expecting your first, that’s not news to you. Some days it feels impossible to afford the bare necessities of food, clothing and a roof over your head. However, as a parent, you also need to think about your family’s overall financial health.  

If you haven’t given serious thought to financial planning, now is the time to start. The sooner you get a handle on your finances and start saving for the future, the more financially secure your family will be. Here’s where to start.

1. Assess Your Income

Does your current income allow you to live comfortably and achieve your financial goals? If not, increasing your income should be at the center of your financial plan. While you can always cut expenses to save money, a higher income is the best long-term solution to financial security. Start thinking about ways you can earn a raise, find a higher-paying position, or pivot your career to increase your income.

2. Examine Your Debt

Most families have some debt (about 80 percent, according to USA Today). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if your debt is preventing you from achieving other financial goals, you’re using credit cards to spend money you don’t have, or you’re struggling to make headway due to high interest rates, you need to take action about your debt.  

List all your debts including outstanding balances, interest rates and minimum monthly payments. Putting it all out in front of you allows you to assess the state of your debt and devise a repayment plan that lets you get ahead. If you find it difficult to keep track of all your accounts, consider debt consolidation. Consolidation combines unsecured debts like student loans, credit cards, and medical bills into a single monthly payment so they’re easier to manage. However, debt consolidation isn’t guaranteed to work in your favor. It’s important to understand the process and how it will affect your debt before choosing to consolidate.

3. Create an Emergency Fund

Everyone needs an emergency fund, but it’s particularly important for parents. An emergency fund enables you to cover minor emergencies without fretting over the bill and remain stable if your job situation changes. Calculate how much money you’d need to cover three months of expenses and set aside funds each paycheck until your emergency fund reaches that number. If you’re a single-income household, aim for six months instead of three.

4. Budget for Childcare

According to Care.com, one in three families spend 20 percent or more of their income on child care. This makes childcare one of the biggest household expenses that parents face and affording it requires careful budgeting. Even when one parent stays home to care for children, there’s a loss of income to account for. Examine your budget to find areas where you can cut expenses and consider flexing your work schedule to reduce the amount of paid childcare needed. Parents can also save money by signing up for a Flexible Spending Account or using the child-care tax credit.

5. Prepare for the Unknown

Life throws a lot of curveballs. When you’re a parent, it’s up to you to be ready for them. Life insurance and a will are two things every parent needs to protect their family from the unexpected.  

Life insurance pays out a death benefit if the policyholder passes away. With a life insurance policy, your family has money to pay for a funeral and stay afloat following a loss of income. However, life insurance alone isn’t enough. You also need a will that names guardians to care for your children if you pass away. Writing a will is complicated, so it’s best to consult with a lawyer.

Author of this article, Tilda Moore, researches and writes about educational resources for openeducators.org. She is passionate about helping parents and teachers in providing kids with the best education possible. She works directly with teachers and other public education groups to ensure they are working toward our vision of constructing a reliable database of verified information

 

Supplementing Your Income When Going Through A Divorce

The average cost of a divorce in the US is $20,000, and that’s if it goes smoothly in arbitration. For couples who need to battle it out in the court room, a two-day trial alone can stretch into the region of $25,000 before any settlement figures are reached. There’s no denying that divorce is an expensive business, and many ex-spouses struggle to stay afloat financially. If this sounds familiar, you might benefit from making a passive income – earning an additional stream of money without trading too much of your time. Consider the following ways to give your cash flow a boost during this difficult stage in life.

Renting Your Space

Space is a hot commodity, and the digital age makes it easier than ever to match up people needing extra additional room with those who are looking to make some money. Take a look at your property and assess if there are any money-making opportunities to be had. Do you have a garage that you could offer as a storage space? Or a parking space that you don’t use all the time? If you’re happy to welcome guests into your home, then you might even consider letting out a spare bedroom either on a semi-permanent basis or in an AirBnB-style arrangement.

Crowdfunding Real Estate

Another way to make money from real estate requires a small upfront investment. Starting with as little as $500, you can crowd-invest in a specific property and watch your pot grow so long as the market is looking strong. It’s a fantastic way to gain knowledge of the industry without requiring too much risk. With the right investment, you should be able to enjoy consistent  returns, without the responsibility of being a direct property owner  www.creditdonkey.com/real-estate-crowdfunding.html

Use Your Phone

With increasing numbers of consumers becoming attached to their smartphones, perhaps it’s time for your favorite device to get to work for you during your divorce. Some companies will pay you to display an ad on your smartphone lock screen – all you have to do is download an app. It’s also possible to make money by calling up companies as a mystery shopper, asking basic questions that customers need to know and then recording your experience of the call to be used by marketing departments.

Blogging

If you have access to a computer, and you love to write, then this is a great way to generate an additional income stream. If you have a hobby, skill or just a subject that you feel passionate about, then set up a blog and become an expert on the topic. Blog about everything to do with it, providing informative content which offers value to the reader and shout out about it on social media to gain a band of loyal followers.

Once you’re hitting some decent traffic figures, you’ll be able to make money from advertising and affiliate revenue. This option does require a little more effort than some passive income ideas, but once you’ve carried out some initial groundwork, you should be able to sit back and make money in your sleep.

These are just a few ways to generate additional funds, and of course there’s nothing to stop you having several streams of income running at once. The important thing to remember is that there are plenty of opportunities out there, and that will continue to be the case long after your divorce is settled.

Author of this article, Lucy Wyndham, is a freelance writer and former Financial Advisor. After a decade in industry, she took a step backward to spend more time with her family and to follow her love of writing.  

Can A Reverse Mortgage Benefit A Divorce Settlement?

photo-1515180711443-f8685c6d6a74Divorce shouldn’t mean your life is over, but rather a new beginning to living life according to your rules. “Grey divorce” is becoming quite common as nearly one in ten marriages ends after being together for more than 40 years, according to Pew Research. As for the causes, this has been happening for various reasons – one of which is due to retirement. Elderly couples are looking to make their golden years enjoyable, even if life was either too busy or stressful in the past. So, can a reverse mortgage benefit a divorce settlement?

Dividing the Assets

Seniors often have many assets that are shared and nearly impossible to split. During negotiations, a family home is often one of the most sought-after assets as they are usually paid off and hold a lot of equity. That is why divorcees over the age of 63 are looking to compromise on a divorce settlement and help settle their assets with the help of a reverse mortgage. One of the benefits of a reverse mortgage is how it allows one partner to continue living in the home without paying for a mortgage nor have access to equity funds.

Splitting the Benefits of Homeownership

During the divorce settlement, splitting the home asset is usually the first decision to make. Instead of selling the home entirely, spouses could choose who can stay in the home and keep the reverse mortgage while the other party receives the equity funds. This useful tool helps couples reach an agreement without further complications. However, it is important to understand that the spouse who continues to stay in the home will be held responsible for certain obligations such as homeowners insurance and property taxes.

Provide Less Drastic Financial Changes

Perhaps the couple is used to living off two solid incomes – whether it be from owning a business, social security, or pensions from their retirement. After a divorce, both parties will be forced to adjust to the sudden drop in income. In some cases, getting the home in the settlement can be a huge benefit. The funds may come in a line of credit, monthly installments, or a lump sum. Additionally, if you plan to sell the home, using a reverse mortgage can help you purchase an entirely new home within your price range. What’s more, you will not have to worry about making the mortgage payments.

Author of this article, Lucy Wyndham, is a freelance writer and former Financial Advisor. After a decade in industry, she took a step backward to spend more time with her family and to follow her love of writing.  

Avoiding Debt During Your Divorce

Even though divorce can be hard, it can provide a new beginning, a fresh start from where to build a new independent life. With plenty to consider at this time, planning ahead can be vital in ensuring you have a financially stable future. Although daunting, this process provides the opportunity to refresh your financial situation and take control of any previous money issues.

There are a number of finance options available, including consolidation and refinancing, to ensure that you can stay financially afloat, whilst also getting the support to turn your life around and find happiness again. Before you potentially encounter financial concerns and worries, there are some simple tips you can follow in order to solve financial issues between yourself and your ex, making a smoother move forward.

Removing names for joint accounts

A simple task that is often forgotten involves the removal of additional names from a joint account. Although this is not always possible if there is debt owed, you can request that the account is put on hold. This will prevent your ex-partner, or yourself, from using the account and accumulating more debt. Once the debt has been settled remember, to close the account immediately.

Pay up as soon as possible

Although few people are in the situation where they can pay off their debt, especially during a divorce, it is important that you create a plan in order to do so as quickly as possible. The sooner this can be done the better, and if you and your ex are amicable it can make for a much easier divorce process, without having to battle out who will be paying for what account. Again, as soon as the account is zeroed, close it down.

Cancel old accounts

Perhaps you have previously opened a joint account with another bank and forgotten to close it? When separating many people create new accounts and go to alternative banks, however if they inquire and find they already have an account existing they can start using it again. If this is a joint account than any debt created on the account will also be in your name. Hopefully your ex would not knowingly create debt issues for you, however it is best to check that all old accounts are closed down in case you or your old partner decide you wish to open a new account with the bank.

With a divorce you do not need the further stress and worry of financial issues pilling up. If you can make sensible choices in this time, you should be able to avoid the unnecessary worry of getting into financial difficulty and see the independence as a move toward a better future. That way, you will have the time and energy to focus on the important things like you and your family’s happiness.

      Author of this article, Lucy Wyndham, is a freelance writer and former Financial Advisor. After a decade in industry, she took a step backward to spend more time with her family and to follow her love of writing.  

Divorce: A New Financial Reality

Besides adjusting to a new emotional reality, divorce means accepting a new financial reality; and many people this means transitioning to a single income. According to the APA, around half of American marriages end in divorce so this is something a lot of us will face in our lifetimes. Unfortunately for many divorcees, particularly women, transitioning to a single income can feel like financial disaster: according to research from insurance provider Allianz two thirds of women feel their divorce created a financial crisis.

Track your spending and anticipate future expenses

At any point in your life, tracking your spending is a good habit to get into but especially so when your marriage is ending. Find out how much you spend on what. If you haven’t tracked your spending until now, use your credit card statements to estimate previous expenses. There are a variety of budgeting apps to help you do this. Once you know your current spending, you can estimate how much you will need to continue your current standard of living. This is a good first step in negotiating a settlement.

Gather documentation

Having the right financial records to hand early on in the divorce proceedings is very important. Correct documentation can help you avoid misunderstandings when reaching a settlement. Gathering documents can take longer than you think so start early. Particularly important are your checking and savings account statements, as well as statements from retirement and investment accounts.

Health

Many couples rely on the coverage of one partner’s health insurance plan, so divorce can create a lot of health questions. There should be a way for you to get some kind of health coverage in the transition period. If you are eligible for a legislation known as Cobra, you can get health insurance for 36 months on your spouse’s plan. In addition, one’s health insurance may also cover dental care and medical expenses for lower income divorcees, as long as your divorce is equitable. Believe it or not sometimes people divorce intentionally and pile all of the assets on the well spouse so the sick spouse can get under the income threshold to qualify for Medicaid. This is known as ‘Medicaid divorce.’ The courts have caught on however so make clear you are not trying to do this by making your divorce equitable – something you should aim to do anyway.

Divorce can be a hugely stressful part of a person’s life but in reality a lot of people will experience it. With the right foreknowledge and preparation you can minimize the financial burden and embark on your new single life.

Author of this article, Lucy Wyndham, is a freelance writer and former Financial Advisor. After a decade in industry, she took a step backward to spend more time with her family and to follow her love of writing.

10 Places We Throw Away Money – Guide for the Newly Single

Every year we spend too much money. We are simply used to convenience, and we will part with our hard earned money for it. This is the pitfall of many annual budgets, but there is hope. Throwing away money is a practice that simply needs to be reversed, and while there is no magic wand to make it happen right away, there are things to be done to bandage the hemorrhaging wallet.

1. Smartphone Apps

Why are we paying for smartphone apps when there are free versions to nearly all of them? Stop paying for what you can get for free. If you feel like you need an app, ask yourself why you need it. Wait 24 hours, then ask yourself why again. This will help you decide if the purchase is worth the money.

2. Gym Memberships

It’s been said before, but it stands to be said again. Many people get gym memberships with good intentions, but never use them. Be honest with yourself, and let go of that membership if you’re really not using it.

3. Buying Coffee

Sit back and consider how much is spent weekly on that cup of coffee from the fancy coffee shop. Coffee beans are not worth the label attached. Make coffee at home and bring it with you.

4. Cars

Car payments are avoidable if you sell your current car then pay cash for something used. Car leases, when trying to save money, make no sense at all. If you have a car payment, pay it off and avoid getting another one. Avoid leases at all costs.

5. Car Washes and Their Upgrades

Some people wash their car in the driveway, which is overall cheaper than using a car wash. However, if you must use a car wash, skip the upgrades. While it’s important to keep the road waste off the car, it’s not important to get it waxed and hand-dried. Take care of only the necessities.

6. Lottery Tickets

There’s a reason why it’s statistically more likely to get hit by lightning than it is to win the lottery, yet some people continue with this expense every week. Stop buying lottery tickets. Instead, invest $100 into a retirement account every month. You’ll retire with nearly a million dollars.

7. Shipping Costs

This is one of the biggest places where people throw away money. It is cheaper to use the gas in the car and go to the store than it is to pay someone to bring you the groceries. Stay off the Internet for purchases and you’ll save money. You’ll also think harder about purchases, because you’ll be inconvenienced in its acquisition.

8. Timeshares

Timeshares are expensive ways to hold a place to stay while on vacation. It seems silly to buy into one of these when hotels, beach houses, and short-term rentals are a growing industry. Get rid of the timeshare and save a large chunk of change.

9. ATM Fees

These fees add up fast when you’re taking money from an out-of-network ATM. Avoid this by using only ATM’s set up by your bank. You’ll save up to $5 for every transaction.

10. Unused Subscriptions

Many companies lure customers into a free 30-day trial, then watch the money roll in after customers forget to cancel during the trial period. Make sure you’re not paying for a subscription you’re not using because you missed your cancellation window.

Author of this article, Lucy Wyndham, is a freelance writer and former Financial Advisor. After a decade in industry, she took a step back to spend more time with her family and to follow her love of writing.

Helping Teens Choose A Career Path For Financial Independence

mediaAs parents, we can feel an overwhelming amount of pressure to make sure our teenagers make good choices when it comes to their future careers. This can be difficult if your teen has a behavioral disorder. However, even without behavior problems, it is still hard to help teenagers find their way.

To help teens align their goals with potential career paths without being “pushy”, try a few of these different approaches below.

Keep An Open Mind

There are many industries today which did not exist even 10-15 years ago. When I was a teenager going on dates and dreaming of my future, I never dreamed I would write online for a living. When I talked to my father about my dreams of becoming a writer, he about laughed himself sick and encouraged me to pursue psychology instead. Now I write online for parenting organizations regarding troubled teens. Interesting how these things work out.

Other industries parents may be surprised by:

  • Pro esports – Does your teen want to just play video games? Well, there is actually a booming industry centered around professional video gamers, garnering viewers who watch the games much like traditional football games. Which draws in money from advertisers who want to reach those viewers.
  • Social media – The world of social media has been a huge driver in creating new jobs. From social media personalities who create a living from cultivating a following via YouTube, Instagram, and other mediums to more “traditional” positions where companies now seem to all be hunting for social media managers to act as brand managers for companies.
  • App developer – There is a growing demand for apps. This shouldn’t surprise parents as they see their teens glued to their phones but they may not realize the potential money behind careers that can come with app development. Successful apps can make millions, and many commercially successful ones are created by just a few creators.

Create Opportunities For Your Teen To Network

The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has become more applicable as the economy struggles to recover. Highly skilled individuals have found themselves jobless for months and even years from the lack of networking.

To help your teen avoid this fate, you can facilitate opportunities for networking early on. This will give them references and connections their peers may lack. Some ways you can help them build up a network as a teen are:

  • Encourage them to volunteer in their community.
  • Have them engage in sports or creative group endeavors like choir or band.
  • Allow them to work a part-time job.

While your teen may not be snapped up for a great career right after high school, they can start learning the basics of building a network.

Help Teens Think Realistically

I don’t criticize my father for not encouraging me to pursue writing as a career. He understood realistically that very few people could make a living from writing alone and while he did support writing as a side hobby, he showed me how my other interests could be made into a career. I follow a similar path with my own teenage son, though I do keep a bit more of an open mind than my father!

You can use tools like employment projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and job salary averages to help your teen take a serious look at their dream job.

This can give them hard numbers that cannot be argued with, unlike their parents. While teens may accuse their parents of exaggerating, these third-party numbers have no reason to stretch the truth and can help your teen refocus their goals.

So, along with giving teens good financial advice for college, try these tips the next time you talk with your teen about their future career.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson  enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative designs. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn

Tips on Teaching Your College Kids About Personal Finance

Money management is a life skill that is just as important as learning proper English grammar, yet it is often neglected. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your child is not lacking in this life skill. Your child’s attitude toward money can make the difference between whether he will have a pleasant way of life in the future or one that will drag him to the pits of misery. There is no better time to teach your child proper personal finance management than when he is setting out on his own for the first time — his college days.  

Talk about money

Money is something we deal with throughout our life, yet it is a subject we rarely discuss. Before you release your child to the jungle that is college, make sure you take the time to dive deeply into the subject. Be open about issues like how you are going to cover his or her college expenses and what you might have to do if something untoward happens, like if you suddenly lose your job. Handling money matters should be a team effort for your family. The more involved your child is, the more he will be responsible for his or her own share of expenses.

Work through a budget with your child

Take the time to sit down and create a budget with your child. This will not only teach him a skill that would prove useful in life, but you can also help make sure that he does not struggle with making ends meet, or worse, end up with nothing to eat while he is miles away from home. Also, if he ends up asking you for more money, you can refer back to the budget you have prepared and work out how he ended up running short. You can then suggest ways to improve.

Make your budget as detailed and concrete as possible. Create categories, break the budget plan down by month so tracking expenses can be easier, and take the time to evaluate the plan and how your child is faring every end of the year or as you see fit.

Require them to track their spending

One of the ways you can ensure that they will stick to a budget is by having them track their spending. The young ones often do not realize how the little purchases can add up. Ask your child to track every single purchase he makes. You can recommend an app that will allow him to do this. The techie tool will make the process easier and more inviting for him. Tracking every single expense will help your child get a feel of the outflow of money, and appreciate the complexities of money management early on.

Set money boundaries

Do not hesitate to discuss with your child just what you are willing to spend on for him. While sending him to school may be your responsibility, covering, say, fraternity expenses is not. Be clear about your boundaries. Explain to your child that if he wants to be able to indulge in luxuries, he should be willing to work for it or find resources of his own. Not only will this help you avoid getting into financial trouble, you will also be able to train your child to be more resourceful. You just might be able to ignite an entrepreneurial spirit in the process.

Do not always bail your child out

Make your child feel secure by explaining that you will always try to do your part and be religious with sending out his allowance. You can even explain that you will always be there to bail him out of trouble, that he should not hesitate to seek your help. After all, the likes of money transfer are only around the corner. Instilling a sense of security in kids is important if they are to set out to the world with confidence. Still, be just as clear that your offer of assistance has its limits. And that while fortuitous events are understandable, losing money over Starbucks is not. Be clear with your boundaries, and be willing to refuse to provide assistance when your child has been irresponsibly careless with his spending habit. Make him own up to his mistakes and learn from them. More importantly, teach him to sort out his own problems and solve them on his own. This will be yet another important life skill he could learn.

Talk about the pitfalls of borrowing

Whether you are thinking of giving your child an extension account to your credit card or you are just worried about him taking debts from his friends, make sure you talk candidly about the pitfalls of borrowing. Many people find themselves in a financial mess in late adulthood because they started off on the wrong foot. There is no better time to warn your child about the dangers of getting buried in debts than when they are just setting out for college. Emphasize the importance of avoiding debts. Mention real life anecdotes if you must, and explain just how much trouble it is to have wrong credit habits.

Talk about the possibility of taking a job

Sit down with your child and seriously ruminate the possibility of taking a job. Discuss possible opportunities available, and discuss the benefits of having a part-time job. Explain that learning about the hard work it entails to earn money will help him value what he has even more and be more responsible with how he spends it. Having a job will also help him earn many life skills that he can use when he enters the real world. This will help ensure eventual success in his career endeavors. You may also help him with time management, so you can make sure he can handle juggling school and work.

Set attractive goals

You may also establish goals that your child will want to work hard for. You can teach them the value of investments and compounded interest so they can have something to strive for. You can both identify exciting things to do with savings and investments, like travel abroad or just a fatter bank account. Having something attractive to look forward to will help motivate your child to stick to the planned budget or to take on that part-time job. Ensure a good future for your child by taking the time to properly train him or her on money management. Personal finance is no small matter, and should be treated accordingly.

Author is Jason Garcia  Blogger and Business Manager www.InvestmentDad.com

 

Most Common Financial Concerns During a Divorce

Money is an ongoing concern for many and it can often cause problems for marriages, occasionally to the point where it ends in divorce. However, divorce brings with it, money trouble of its own.

Splitting Possessions

There may be a house, a car and even a collection of some kind all of which will have to be divided. This is a big part of the divorce process and the way it works has some relevance to where you live.

There are two forms of states known as community property states and equitable distribution. Community property states see all belongings as being owned by both parties. This does not necessarily mean that everything is split 50:50 and belongings are split in a fair way.

Equitable distribution states indicate that any property obtained during the marriage will belong to the spouse that earned it. In the case of divorce, the two parties have the assistance of solicitors and such to help them divide belongings in a fair way.

Splitting Debts

Splitting debts is very different to splitting assets because you have to share the money that you owe. Therefore, it is important for all involved to understand what is owed and who owes it and there is always the scope of settling the debts at this point by selling something such as a property. There is the possibility of swapping debt for assets when they property is divided but there is also the possibility of splitting debts equally – this of course depends on how amicably the divorce is.

Tax problems

Splitting assets and debt are usually at the forefront of the divorce arrangements yet there are tax implications to consider.

As you are not considered to be married any more, following divorce, your filing status changes. There is the possibility that capital gains tax could be expected, particularly if you receive a large amount when the property is divided and there is every chance that the legal fees linked to your divorce could be susceptible to tax.

Child support and any other family support payments could be taxed and if there are children involved, who will be exempt from making the payments? The tax payments can be quite high and so they have to be considered.

Are there children involved?

It is never a pleasant experience if there are children involved in the divorce, but the main fact is that they cost money. The cost of raising a child up to adulthood can run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds and this involves providing them with a home, clothes, food, school and a lot more and so, when it comes to divorce, child support becomes an issue.

If you are not granted custody of the child then you will have to provide regular payments as a form of child support. These are payments that you will have to commit to until your child reaches 18 years of age.

The payment will be made to the other parent as they are the ones who has to pay for the majority of costs associated with raising a child.

When it comes to divorce, things can become extremely complicated and so there are hurdles and barriers to slow you down along the way. While money may have been the reason for your divorce it can certainly cause you problems beyond that, but understanding some of the financial concerns when it comes to a divorce will prepare you for what lies ahead.

Author Bio K J Smith Solicitors are specialists in family law, with an expert team of family law professionals who are experienced in all aspects of family and divorce law.

Negotiating for Fair Settlement in Divorce

In divorce negotiations who gets what asset can be the most difficult part of the whole process. People sometimes have the winner take all mentality which leads to prolonged divorces. Negotiating is like a dance. One person takes a step backwards and the other one goes forward. The partners move in sync and sometimes apart from each other. They dance around some of the lesser issues to concentrate on what is most important to them. As in dance – flexibility is important. If your spouse is not going to budge on one item, go after something similar, or two smaller ones which may have an even greater value when combined.

Lawyers and mediators are quite skilled in assessing and dividing property and investments. That said, consider having a neutral financial consultant on-board to help with a fair distribution. They can look at the assets in totality and advise a balanced split so one party does not get mainly retirement pensions and the other one cash. A few women now in their fifties who got more in liquid assets and very little in retirement benefits, are worried about their futures. Who knows what social security payments will be in the next decade and beyond.

Look at what your present needs are in order to determine what assets are most advantageous to you. If you are a few decades away from retirement, it may be in your best interest to receive a bigger chunk of liquid funds. This way you can buy a house and pay off the mortgage. Being free of a mortgage puts more money in your pocket even with property taxes, upkeep and insurance bills. Perhaps student loans could be paid off if getting a lump sum settlement. If unsure what to do in your circumstance, meet with your own personal financial advisor for guidance in choosing which type of assets you would like.

Know the tax consequences of splitting assets, especially retirement ones. It may be prudent for the lower earning spouse to take ones that will be taxed in their lower tax bracket. Compensation can be made for this, but then wealth stays with the divorcing spouses as opposed to the government’s taxation department.

Dividing assets is not black or white – there is a grey area where you have some wiggle room. Please read more     www.divorcemag.com/blog/negotiating-fair-divorce-settlement

Starting a New Business Post-Divorce

Divorce brings changes into one’s life with the opportunity to embark on a new career path. You may decide to train for a different field which you are passionate about. Plenty of people have opened cafes, boutiques or became entrepreneurs. The trick is not to jump into starting a business without doing the groundwork first, no matter how exciting your idea is.

  • Do market research to see how feasible your idea is and to determine your target group of consumers. Some hire a professional to analyse the competition and if the product will fulfil a need. They will look at demographics and suggest a location if it is to have a physical place. Make sure you found a niche or are presenting something in a unique way, whether online or not. For example, if you dream of making cakes and the result of a market analysis shows there are already two shops selling them, do it differently. Perhaps produce luscious cupcakes and traditional European cookies in a coffee house setting for better sales.
  • Write a detailed business plan. This includes determining the cost of each unit, where it will be made and logistics, such as the shipping from a factory. Will you make a product yourself or hire staff? Think about web site design, start-up costs, how you plan to market it and cover all aspects of your business. Globally there are charities which help budding entrepreneurs write a business plan or mentor when getting started with a business. There are templates online to help one with this task. Banks will need to examine your business plan to decide whether to give a loan. Will you be selling online exclusively or is there a possibility of wanting a store?

Sort out your financial situation. Can you cover the start-up yourself or with loans from friends and family? Will you try to get funding such as with Go Fund Me or Crowdfunding?

  • Some charities make small loans when banks will not do so. You may want to keep you day job or at least go part time until some money starts trickling in. Talk to or hire an accountant. Start cutting your living expenses now.

There are special considerations when going into business with a friend. Sometimes a Type A and Type B may not get on well. In one case two teachers were going into business together and started designing teaching materials to be sold online. They had the business plan done and were being mentored by some retired professionals. However, the Type A demanded that the Type B keep a log of how many hours she worked and then insisted upon a bigger share than the 50/50 legally agreed upon split. She also mandated that her friend take some college courses on social media and so forth. It was a spectacular blow up that ended their business partnership. Make sure that you can work with someone and can calmly discuss issues that are bound to come up in your business.

Have a solicitor draw up a business contract when going into business with someone else. This will cover the eventuality that one wants to quit and how to have an exit plan. If one partner dies, how will the heirs get some compensation? It could be a nightmare if they try to step in and co-run your business.      Please read more   www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/going-into-business-after-divorce/

 

Avoiding Financial Mistakes in Divorce

The way assets are split during a divorce can affect one’s financial future. One pitfall is not taking a careful look at what is best in your particular situation. Consider hiring an independent financial advisor to go over the asset inventory and get a balance between cash and retirement investments. One splits the total value of assets, not necessarily the individual ones themselves.

1. Determine which investments have a greater potential for a higher yield. A money market account is safe but will not accumulate as much interest as a more diversified portfolio. I am earning 5% or more on my intermediate bond index. My investment with various stocks is more volatile, although long-term gains will hopefully make up for occasional losses. A financial expert is not working on commission and can give some guidance on which types of investments are best to receive in your divorce. I made the mistake of not taking more in a retirement account and am trying to catch up with that now. Keep in mind that investments have different tax consequences. Discover if an investment will be taxed at a later date and at what rate. Other investments may be tax-free. When there is much wealth to be split, have a tax expert working with the financial advisor right from the start.

2. A receiver is taxed for alimony, but not for child support. The payor gets a tax break for paying alimony, but not for child support. If your children are young, consider taking the bulk of your maintenance as child support, so you get to keep it as opposed to paying taxes on it. If you have teenagers and your alimony continues after child support ends, it may be better to take the bulk of it as alimony (I did this option).

3. Property is not equal. If there are some choices, a real estate agent or expert in this field can guide you. Some land or houses may be on an upward trend and others may be losing value. One divorced woman moved into a house with her daughter and was told that a small road might be built beyond the back yard. That was an understatement and they moved after a major freeway was constructed instead. In another case, a divorcee bought a nice house in a quiet, well-kept suburb. A few years later a high-density apartment complex was added nearby, resulting in a rash of break-ins and other crimes. There was a mass exodus from a previously peaceful neighborhood. Do your research to ensure getting a particular piece of property is a good idea.    divorcedmoms.com/articles/5-financial-pitfalls-of-divorce-and-how-to-avoid-them

 

How to be Empowered in Divorce

Being empowered in divorce is the opposite from viewing oneself as a victim. It is the difference from being in a place of strength to feeling out of control during and post-divorce. Assess what you can control and what is out of your hands. You may be surprised that you really do have more input in your proceedings and can take a more active role. Speak to your solicitor or mediator about what you want to get out of the divorce, preferably also in writing for their future reference. I know a few acquaintances that felt helpless and just went with the flow, instead of being assertive. They are kicking themselves now post-divorce.

Empower yourself with knowledge. A great site that answers many divorce questions is www.gov.uk and gives a glimpse of what to expect. Look up on calculate-your-child-maintenance the calculator which indicates what to expect for child maintenance in your situation. In the US, each state has an online calculator to get an idea of what alimony or child support may be in your situation. Knowing what to anticipate ahead of time lets you think about Plan B. If you will be the receiver, and the amount seems too low, have a list ready of what else could be thrown in – sports, camp fees or other activities to be included as child support. If you are the payer, offer more in spousal maintenance which is a tax break for you, and less in child maintenance, which is not. Being empowered is having an idea what you are up against in divorce and forming plans on how to deal with it.

One fellow who survived an acrimonious divorce suggests having a “victory garden.” Grow some vegetables – even in containers- to show the children that you are self-sufficient. Putting food on the table that you grew is another way to feel empowered. The added bonus is nurturing living things takes the focus off your problems and on to what is thriving in your care.

Uncertain financial footing can put someone in a tail spin.  One woman took her personal items, engagement ring, and family heirlooms to a business who sells goods online. She did this after her husband walked out and before she had hired a solicitor. She felt empowered going into the divorce, since cash would be coming soon.

Some solicitors advise their clients to get a job during divorce so that they feel more in control. Not only does this boost their self-esteem, but enables them to feel more secure during the proceedings when they know they have earning power. Think about what your talents are and in what areas you excel.  Please read more…  www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/empowerment-in-divorce/

Whether to Keep or Sell the Marital House in Divorce

A big issue in divorce proceedings is what to do about the marital home. Is it to be sold or does a spouse buy out the other one? Would one spouse be able to handle the upkeep, taxes, and mortgage? A factor to consider is if the mortgage is already paid or will be by the time alimony has run its course. I have seen several women post-divorce who got the marital home and are living paycheck to paycheck. They are barely keeping their heads above water financially. Consider hiring your own financial advisor to see if buying your spouse out of his share is really feasible.

Fotolia_57688175_XS.jpgKeep in mind that two 100K assets are not equal. An investment or money market account accrues interest and a house requires an outlay of money for expenses. That said, a house can appreciate in value or be in such a lovely setting, that ever selling it would be out of the question. Two divorced women said the only way that they would permanently leave their beautiful houses would be by hearse. If you are on the fence about what to do regarding the marital home in your divorce, consult with a real estate agent regarding projected future trends in the housing market. You would have an idea if the property values are going down or up.

If your children and pets are happily residing in the marital home then it may be the better choice to hang on to it. If you like your neighbors and the amenities of your neighborhood, then that is another reason to stay put. When you are in a great public school location, you may not be able to find a home in the same district. It is not guaranteed that your kids could get an inner zone transfer to come back to their school the following year, if moving across town. It can make a difference if they move across the city from their friends and activities. I meet girlfriends at two coffee shops nearby, sometimes at the spur of the moment. Moving out and farther away could curtail these impromptu get-togethers. What do you about the marital home after divorce?   divorcedmoms.com/articles/the-marital-home-is-home-still-sweet-after-divorce

Preparing for Divorce

Your marriage may be turbulent – but you may not be sure if you want to jump ship. Whatever the outcome may be – reconciliation, separation or divorce – there are steps to take in the interim.

–  Get a hold of financial records including tax returns, bank and credit card statements.

Find retirement and investment accounts, plus a life insurance policy. Make copies and put them in a secure place and on a flash drive for easy access. Gather information on loans, mortgage or rent, and other monthly expenses to get a full financial picture. Scrutinize joint credit card statements to see if your spouse has been buying presents or spending marital money on a lover. Some spouses have been successful in getting these expenditures reimbursed during divorce proceedings.

If there seems to be chunks missing, then possibly your spouse has been liquidating assets or “giving” them to family and friends. After the divorce, these “gifts” would be returned to your ex-spouse. During financial disclosure in divorce, a forensic accountant may be brought on board to investigate any financial discrepancies.

Obtain a credit card in your name only. If you have one already, then remove your spouse as a signer on it, if she has that privilege. Having a credit card in one’s name helps to build up a credit rating which is especially crucial once single again. Order a credit report to correct any mistakes, see what the number is, or if your spouse has caused it to take a nose dive for some reason.

If you find yourself in an emergency, then a credit card is invaluable. I could not have managed during the six weeks from when my husband left, until the interim support started, without it.

–  Open a bank account in your name only to ensure that you have access to funds when the divorce commences.

I had not done this, so did not have any cash. I had to ask my mum for a hand-out.  Joint accounts can temporarily be frozen during divorce, so you want to make sure to have a cash fund available.

Set up direct payments from your joint banking account to utilities, mortgage lender, the phone company and other services so they get paid in case it is not frozen during proceedings. It makes life easier if one is not scrambling to pay these before interim support starts. Since I had worked at our jointly owned business, I did not have an income stream to make these payments and received disconnection notices. If they had been automatically paid, this would not have happened.

If you sense that a divorce is imminent, then cut down on expenses and tuck away the amount that you would have spent on lunches out, clothes etc.

Keep close tabs on bank accounts or investment balances, to make sure that your spouse does not withdraw a large amount and then immediately file for divorce. Some savvy women bought themselves gift cards to grocery stores and to other necessary places when feeling that their marriages might be ending soon.

Some women had facelifts and breast implants done while still married right before heading for divorce. A few furious husbands tried to get a partial reimbursement for these procedures, but were denied, since they were done while still married. I put off expensive dental work that I could have done during marriage. It was not covered, so I had a big bill for it when newly divorced.

A little pre-planning can make for a smoother divorce. One’s solicitor will appreciate having financial information right in the beginning of the proceedings.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

How to Invest Your Money Post-Divorce

Divorce can be a financially trying time where one feels that her head is barely above water. There still may be attorney fees to pay along with the cost of buying a new house.  Your alimony and child support may not be what you had anticipated. Or you may have received a bid chunk of cash and not sure of how to invest it.

I bought a house during the end of my divorce and my priority was paying off the mortgage, so I would not have to deal with it when my alimony ran out. Look at different policies to ensure that there is not a penalty for paying it off before the fifteen or thirty year loan expires. An acquaintance who had a bad break-up, has a ten percent penalty if she pays off her mortgage early. She did not read the fine print. I paid extra every month and used most of my divorce settlement for paying off the balance. I like having this security.

Meet with a financial planner who charges by the hour and has no vested interest in certain investments. Working with one who only gets commissions may steer you into a plan that pays a high commission to them. This happened to one women who ended up with a lousy annuity and lost a chunk of its value when she dumped it post-divorce. Word of mouth is one way to find reputable financial planners, but check their web sites and the Better Business Bureau to get a fuller picture.

I looked at financial institutions that did not give their CEOs and top echelon multi-million dollar salaries or bonuses. I checked out who has low fees, paid less to administrators, and has been in business for a while. I found Vanguard ticked all of these boxes. Investments that reach a certain dollar amount do not pay, or barely pay, an administrative fee. My divorced friend is quite happy with Charles Schwab and feels she pays less in fees.
divorcedmoms.com/articles/where-to-invest-your-money-following-your-divorce

Ways to Negotiate Child Support

States have a formula to determine the amount of child support, but this is not an arbitrary figure. Negotiations can increase this amount. Parents have the right to come to their own agreement on child support and not rely on their state’s guideline. Submit the agreement to the court in order to make it official, in case there is difficulty in collecting it at a later date.

  1. Child support is non-modifiable (no changes allowed) or modifiable (may be changed at a later date). I chose non-modifiable because I did not want to deal with any divorce issues again. If it looks like your spouse might be in for a big promotion, or his artwork is starting to sell, then modifiable may be the right choice. Then you can go to court when this happens to ask for an increase. If your husband has a good job and you think that might change, then you may choose non-modifiable so the rate does not dip. The judge looks at the potential earning ability of both parents as part of determining child support.
  2. If the state’s guideline for child support seems too low, consider working with your spouse on this issue. If you are having a court divorce, it is hard to know how the judge will rule on it. Perhaps a spouse would take a few more household items and artwork in exchange for a slightly higher child support amount. Go online to your state’s “calculator” to get an idea of what to expect before the negotiation. Wish I had done that.
  3. Get documentation and financial records pertaining to your children together for negotiations. Figure out your expenses including your rent (the kid’s shelter), food, clothes and activities to show why you would require a higher rate for support. Offer proof with receipts paid for lessons, activities, and other expenditures relating to the children.  Please read more…. divorcedmoms.com/articles/10-things-to-consider-when-negotiating-child-support

Keeping your money in line during divorce

Divorce is always difficult and there’s rarely a smooth way around it. Big money divorces regularly make the headlines and serve as a constant reminder that the process won’t just take its toll on your emotions, but also your bank account.

If you are thinking about divorce, it’s important that you understand how costly it can be. For example, the court fee for filing a divorce in the UK is currently (as of March 2014) £410. In addition, fees are required to obtain your final order and conclude financial arrangements.

Solicitor Fees

You’ll most likely require some form of legal advice before you start the divorce proceedings. Hiring a solicitor may seem expensive; however, the cost of attaining expert guidance could be minimal in comparison to what you could lose.

Hiring a solicitor will help to secure your assets and ensure you are as protected as possible. Fees can significantly vary on a case-to-case basis and the more you can resolve yourself, the less it will cost. Using mediation or collaborative lawyers could also reduce expenditure. In addition, there are plenty of free online resources available that will help guide you through the process.

According to Money Advice Service most solicitors will charge between £100 and £200 per hour to draw up legal documents that contain the agreement between you and your partner. If you use a solicitor to negotiate finances and assets on your behalf it could cost between £3,000 and £10,000.

Other Costs

Aside from the legal aspects, there are plenty of other costs that you must discuss before getting a divorce. For example, who will pay for your child’s living costs? Who will move out of the house? Do you have a place to stay when the procedures begin? Can you afford the rent without your partner? Will you be able to accommodate buying and moving costs?

Children can be particularly at risk during divorce proceedings, which is of course heartbreak for any parent. One way that Cathy (co-author of this post) is watching her money is by setting up a trust for her little one. One of the benefits of a trust fund is that it does not fall in line with the other assets that can be at risk during divorce proceedings. You can find out more about trusts on this page.

Getting Financial Aid

There is currently no form of financial aid to help cover divorce fees in England, unless you can prove evidence of domestic violence. If you believe that you qualify for financial aid you must contact Civil Legal Advice. They will tell you whether or not you are entitled to support and may also provide a mediator on your behalf. This can cause much emotional strain, but it is crucial that you protect yourself and ask for help if you feel you have been threatened in any relationship.

If you can’t afford your divorce fees and staying with your partner isn’t an option, then you may have to borrow money and could be entitled to litigation funding. This is a loan which is specifically granted to cover legal fees. Not many financial service institutions will provide litigation funding, and if they do, they’ll most likely deal directly with your solicitor.

Going through divorce can be one of the most emotionally challenging times of your life. Dealing with the financial arrangements and your assets can cause a great deal of unnecessary stress. Without taking the appropriate procedures you could find yourself significantly out of pocket. If you would like advice about how to handle your divorce, contact a specialist that really knows how to take care of the proceedings in a professional, and most importantly, heartfelt manner.

Written by Jessica Baker (@JessBaker89) and Cathy Graham of Mercer and Hole

Emotional and Financial Abuse

Domestic violence is more noticeable to others outside of the marriage, especially when one partner is sporting a black eye. Financial and emotional abuse can be more hidden to family and friends, but no less devastating. These two seem to go hand in hand with or without physical abuse. The crux of financial abuse is control. One spouse is attempting to control actions by hampering the other’s financial independence. He removes the other partner’s name from a bank account who then is unable to access money and turns to spouse or others for it. The abusive spouse may demand to see all receipts and monitor every pound that is spent. Often all decisions regarding household expenditures are made by the abuser. The victim may be prevented from spending any money on the children. This is a way to trap a person and keep her in the marriage. Relying on handouts is a way to control the relationship through money.

After Anne had their baby baptized, Edward decided that he wanted to bring her up in his religion. Anne would not have married Edward if she knew that he would change his mind on this deal breaker issue. Edward then withheld money from Anne as punishment.  She had to cut short her maternity leave and return to work in order to pay bills.  Not surprisingly this marriage ended in divorce. Financial abuse can also be vindictive for a certain behaviour.

Emotional abuse is a power ploy to keep the other spouse in line by such tactics as manipulation and berating them. The spouse may be told that she is unattractive and incapable of making decisions. Emotional abuse breaks down a person’s self-esteem and self-worth by causing them to have doubts about themselves. The children may pick up on this message and view that parent as weak or be afraid to anger the abusive one. The abuser uses the kids to challenge the other parent’s authority. The children may also be abused in various ways too.

Emotional abuse’s aim is to punish and humiliate the partner. Perhaps this spouse is having success on the job and the abuser wants to put him in his place. Lying, threats and blame are components of this type of abuse. Psychological abuse is especially carried out by Narcissists who are insidious adversaries. These people are charming at first and then their mask comes off revealing someone who cannot share the spotlight.

How to break free?

  • Platform 51 and the National Domestic Violence Helpline are great resources as a starting point.
  • Other measures you can take are to have access to your own money by opening up an individual bank account in your name only. Selling some jewelry could fund this.
  • Have a friend or parent keep a small amount of “mad money” for you at their place in case you make a hurried get-away.
  • Lock up your valuables to sell at a later point.
  • Get counselling.
  • Get a divorce solicitor as I did in a hurry.

I did not realize the extent of the financial and emotional abuse I was enduring until the day I met with my new solicitor. My sons were ecstatic when I told them I was delivering a list of collaborative solicitors to their father (through the mail slot). Post-divorce I felt rich when I was in total control of my own money.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

 

Divorce tip: Beauty for Less

When you are going through a divorce or other life transition, you may be on a tight budget. You still require high quality products that are plant based for healthy  skin. You do not have to down grade to cheap products full of chemicals, but rather upgrade to ones that deliver a powerful punch for rejuvenation. Your skin becomes sallow and more wrinkled with insomnia and stress.

Boots pharmacies  in the UK, have their own lines of skin care and are available stateside at Target and other retailers. Botanics are particularly packed full of botanicals and are endorsed by Kew Gardens in London, along with Oprah and some leading physicians. Theses products are  reasonable starting at $8.99 to around $24.99.

I really like the Facial Oil 100% organic which is $8.99. The Facial Serum Triple Age Renewal and the matching eye serum have orchid as one of the plant ingredients and sell for around $16.00. I use the facial super balm($8.99) as both the top layer of moisturizer and as a night eye balm.

Boot’s No. 7 line has the popular Protect & Perfect skin serum which has undergone studies endorsing its qualities. The No. 7  Overnight Hand Treatment ($14.69) makes my middle aged hands look young. The No.7 foundation and blush is made in France and is every bit as good as the high price department store ones that I used in the past.

Lumene skin care from Finland also is plant based and usually under $25.oo. These can be found at CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens, sometimes on sale. Prevent future problems by taking care of your skin now with these nurturing and reasonably priced items. Not only will you look and feel better, but your budget will too.

Financial Fasting a New Trend

Financial Fasting works much like diet fasting does when one reduces calories for a day of two a week.  This is particularly helpful for those just emerging from a life transition, such as divorce. Fasting may be short lived, such as when one wants to lose a few pounds before a special event. Or it can be long term, as some of my European friends do. Think of your finances in a similar vein. UK’s Women & Home magazine’s August 2013 issue has an article describing this latest trend.  Cut down on expenses for one or two days a week and spend your normal amounts on the other days. This will get you ahead of the financial game and put some extra cash in your bank account.

You may want to just have a designated time period for this financial fast, such as three months with an option to extend it.  For me, seeing a short-term goal makes it easier to do.  The article suggested the usual, bring your lunch and leave your credit cards at home on fasting days.

It also suggested viewing the financial fast as a trade.  You are giving up some extra frivolous expenditures for something that you would really enjoy, such as a facial.  You could have a special ongoing goal as my sons and I do. We have a vibrant pottery canister that is our “Travel Fund.”  We forgo extra clothes, gadgets, etc and put that money into the Travel Fund.  We fast financially, by going to coffee shops instead of expensive dinners.

Give this Financial Fast a go and see your dream reached a little quicker.

How to pay off your mortgage

Tips on paying off your mortgage quickly.
1. Have your mortgage automatically withdrawn form your bank account with a set addtional amount to go to the principle itself.  For example, I doubled my mortgage amount with the other half going directly to my principle.
2.  Put ALL extra dividends, bonuses, tax refunds, inheritance, etc directly to your principle.  Make out a mortgage slip and send that in as  an extra payment to your principle.  It doesn’t matter if they are small amounts as long as they are clearly marked “principle”.  If you get large sums of money sporadically, such as artists do after shows or when paintings sell, put a good chunk of that to the principle.  I am friends with an artist family and they blow big chunks of money on frivolous items, but moan about their mortgage.  Any extra money that comes in, that is not your salary, put towards the principle.
3.  Check your mortgage policy.  Is there a prepayment penalty?  If so, see if you can have that mortgage transferred to another institution, which doesn’t have such restrictions.  Maybe you can have your mortgage loan refinanced at a lower rate.  Your monthly loan payment can be reduced if you put a certain  amount down on your mortgage.  For example if I put at least $5000.00 down, with a small fee, my loan payment was recalculated and my monthly payment became less.
4.  Some people are putting large amounts of money into their savings accounts and investments, which don’t accrue the same amount of interest, as the interest owed with a mortgage.  For example, last year I paid $1648.00 in interest with my mortgage, but did not earn any where near that with my small savings and investments.  I pulled money out of my small investments, sold heirloom silverware, etc and paid off my mortgage!  Now instead of paying $1648.00 in yearly interest, I can EARN some interest.
5.  More ways to pay off that mortgage:  Do you use great aunt Sally’s sterling silverware ?  Do you need your predivorce wedding china and crystal?  Then sell it.  Wouldn’t your deceased relatives be glad that you have a  completely paid  roof over your head?  You can put an ad in your local paper, sell items online or take them to a consignment shop.  I’ve sold some less expensive heirlooms at garage sales.  This money adds up and put  it towards your principle.
6. Live simply and put extra money  not spent, towards your mortgage.  Buy kids clothes at the thrift stores, some items still have the tags on them.  Go out for lattes instead of dinner or lunch.  More in later blogs about saving  money.  Stay focused on your mortgage goal and you will accomplish it, as I did.
7. Read some books or articles by experts, such as Suzy Orman to get you on track.
8. If you have a larger living space than you need, could you downsize and sell it, buying a smaller abode?
Could you take in a paying roomate, if you don’t want to sell it?
9. Be creative and you will be surprised how quickly you can obtain this goal.

New way to cancel your mortgage

Here is an ingenious way to get rid of a mortgage.  My neighbors had a big mortgage and a business that was feeling the effects of the recession. This is what they did. They switched houses with another family and moved into one that had the mortgage paid.  They gave up their bigger, close to town house, for one that was more out in the country.  They no longer had a mortgage, so could get caught up financially. The commute into the city only added about 12 minutes per way, so it wasn’t too bad for them.
If you need the equity out of your house and don’t want to sell it, then you may want to consider a credit line which is tied to your house.  Check out the interest rates to see if this would work.