Did you know that attorneys charge by the hour? I knew that. Duh. Then why did I leave so much of the leg work up to my attorney to do? There was so much prep work that I could have done and then handed over to my attorney. It would have saved me boat loads of money.
Hindsight is 20/20.
But, you can learn from my mistake.
Here is a super easy way to save money in divorce: prep your financials. What does that mean? I will break down for you what I wish I would have done:
1. Gather up all statements, for both you and your spouse, that has a dollar sign on it.
- Credit Card statements
- Bank Account statements
- Investment account statements (401k, IRA’s, 403b, etc)
- Insurance Policies
- Bills (utilities, cell phone, gym membership, vet bills, kids activities, etc)
- Pay Stubs (most recent)
- Tax Return (last 3 years, if possible)
- Mortgage statement
- Car payment, boat payment, snowmobile payment, etc.
- Debts (student loan, unsecured loan, etc.)
2. Create monthly expenses spreadsheet.
- • Use statements from above to track out where your money is going each month. It’s best to do this for a few months, so you can get an average of each expense item
3. Create monthly income spreadsheet
- Use pay stubs and tax returns and bank statements to see where your money is coming from. List out each income source on the spreadsheet
4. Create a spreadsheet for all your personal property
- Go through your house and write down all your “stuff”. Couches, lamps, TV’s, kitchenware, clothing, kid toys, etc. Assign a dollar value on each of these items. Do your best to value these items. Think garage sale or crags list prices.
- Include cars, boats, RV’s, etc mortgage and equity value
- Include the value of your house, and the mortgage amount
This may not sound like a big deal, but I bet you attorneys have a lot of billable hours invoiced for this financial documentation process. It’s part of what is called the “discovery” process.
Save yourself the billable hours by doing this yourself.
I know, it’s not fun. You’d rather just find the documents at your leisure when they come in the mail, or when you finally get to the bottom of that stack, but just remember this: $250/hour.
The other good thing about this tip is that if you can plan ahead and gather up all these documents before *!&$ hits the fan, you can avoid your upset spouse possibly hiding some of these statements or proof of assets.
Put on your diligent pants, get out a pen and paper, and start charting it all out.
Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.