The end of a relationship is an emotional time, it’s important to still keep your finances on track – so as not to compound your woes. If you find yourself suddenly single, here are some simple money-management tips.
If you’ve been in a relationship, you may have had shared finances and joint accounts. As you’re now responsible for yourself, it’s important that you take control of your own financial future.
- Get your own bank account and close any joint accounts. Make sure your salary or income is being paid into your account, one to which your ex has no access.
- Find out what you are worth and get a true reflection of your net position:list your assets, income and outgoings to understand your financial landscape. Moneysmart.gov.au has a useful calculator to help you gain a clear picture.
- Seek legal advice. Lodge a statement with your solicitor regarding the date you separated, what financial assets you believe you have a claim to and update your will. If you have joint property or joint financial holdings, apply to have them frozen, so they can’t be sold or disbursed without your knowledge.
- Update any agreements held in joint names. You will be liable for any unpaid rent, utility bills or loan payments.
- Change any banking passwords that your partner may know. No matter how much you trust them, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The reality of an income drop
For most people, although not all, separation can mean having less disposable income. You need to be clear from where your income comes and truthful about where it goes.
Gather together all your credit card bills, utility statements, bank statements and loan repayments. Put together a simple spreadsheet with a column for what you have coming in and a separate column for what you have going out each month. If you arrange these in date order, you will know where you stand at any given time in the month. This spreadsheet will also help you keep track of what bills you have paid. Simply move the amount to a third column once the payment has been made.
If you can’t balance your books, then a financial counsellor may be able to help you get a handle on your finances.
Organise your paperwork
To help you get your affairs in order, you will need to ensure you have all the necessary paperwork to hand. Use this simple list below to ensure you have all you need.
- Superannuation details
- Tax records
- Banking and saving account details, including PINs and passwords
- Insurance policies
- Mortgage documents
- Birth/marriage/divorce certificates
- Wills and estate plans, including Power of Attorney
- Contact details for lawyer and accountant
- Business documents
- Medicare details
- Employment and education details
- Investment records
- Property deeds
- Asset-ownership documents
Securing your future
You’re now responsible for your own financial future, so make sure you have one. Go and speak to an independent financial advisor about ways to maximise your superannuation and arrange your life and income protection insurance. If you don’t have your own financial planner, you can find one in your area via the Financial Planning Association.
You may also wish to make an appointment with a Centrelink Financial Information Services (FIS) Officer to find out whether there is any support available to you. You can make an appoint with a FIS officer by calling 13 2300, or find out more at HumanServices.gov.au.