Divorce is a time to look closely at the issue of money - specifically, will what you have be enough?
There’s often no easy answer.
You can find lots of formulas online:
· 3-6 months of expenses in an emergency fund
· 3x your current salary by age 40
· 4x your current salary by age 45
· 8 times (X) your salary by age 60
BUT, In the end, those are just formulas.
I have clients who live comfortably on social security and not much more
I have other clients for whom millions are not enough.
What makes the difference? Lifestyle certainly.
But more notably – what’s important about money to them.
Everyone has attitudes about money, many of which were shaped in our childhoods. Why we save, or don’t save, why we spend, or don’t spend, what amount of money in the bank makes us feel comfortable. These are all ingrained.
Money may mean:
Money may be:
· A tool
· A means to an end
· THE end
Most of us probably grew up with parents who didn’t talk about money. In fact, most of us would probably rather talk about our sex lives than tell each other how much we earn!
Did you know, however, that understanding what money means to you can actually help you set financial goals that are realistic and comfortable for you?
While I’m not certain of the question’s origins, I first learned of it over a decade ago when I attended a seminar by Bill Bachrach. It was about the importance of understanding your values when making major financial decisions.
The purpose of the exercise I’m going to describe isn’t to think in terms of goals. It’s meant to go deeper than that, or to get at the reason why we have certain goals. The first answers people come up with are usually easy — things like security and freedom. But once we pause and really think, we can move even deeper still, or into what might be called the “why” of money. This question can get
uncomfortable because it forces us to get really clear about our underlying reason for doing things. It also forces us to face some inconsistencies in our lives.
This is a great exercise to do when going through a divorce. In fact, at that seminar all those years ago, I was in the midst of my divorce and panicking about finances. If possible, do this with a friend but you can also do this by yourself.
Each of you asks the other (or yourself): What important about money to you?
The answer to that question – let’s say security – becomes the next question.
What important about security to you?
The answer to that question becomes the next question – whether it’s one word or a whole sentence
Keep going until you’ve done about 7 or 8.
For me, the inconsistency is time – money to me is security, freedom from worry, which allows me to do the things I love, spend time with people I love, give back to the community, and learn new things.
But when I find myself working late nights and weekends am I losing sight of my own personal “why” of money? Am I working more hours to make more money and not having enough time?
When you’re arguing with your ex-spouse about asset division, child support or alimony are you losing sight of your own personal “why” of money?