When divorce suddenly photobombs the perfect mental picture of the retirement plans you once had with your spouse, is there any way to restore the main image (and the plans that go with it)?
Maybe. There’s no denying that divorce affects wealth — you have to divide up the property and your other assets, which leaves you less to live on and less to invest. Without a partner, you may also struggle a little more with motivation — and living for the moment can definitely deplete your bank account.
Here are some things to consider as you go about rebuilding your retirement dreams:
1. California is a community property state, which means that everything earned, owed and saved during the marriage is split evenly down the middle — whether you were the family “saver” and your ex was the family “spender” or not. That means your retirement assets, including stock options and 401K plans, are definitely going to take a hard hit.
2. Start thinking about a revised retirement plan. This doesn’t just mean thinking about ways to rebuild what you lost in the divorce — it means rethinking your entire plan from start to finish. Now that you aren’t planning for two, you may realize that you have a whole different goal for yourself that you really want reach — and it may be more modest (which will make it more reachable).
3. Decide how much you can realistically start to put away each month. Keep in mind that your finances may be a temporary nightmare — it may be wiser to put your money into paying off high-interest credit card debt at first instead of saving it for retirement. If you aren’t sure, look at the interest you’re paying on your credit card debt — wiping out that debt is roughly equal to making that amount of interest on a savings account somewhere.
While your divorce attorney can help you understand the way that property division will affect you now, it’s not a bad idea to involve a financial manager in your divorce in order to get a better grip on how that property division will affect your future.
Source: The Motley Fool, “Can Divorce Destroy Your Retirement?,” Wendy Connick, Oct. 13, 2017