O is for ORGANIZE yourself.

O is for ORGANIZE yourself.We all have so many different aspects to our lives. Work, home, kids, care-giving for aging parents, financial records—and all of them have paperwork attached to it!

When you are going through a divorce, even the mail can become a daily struggle to handle especially when it arrives in joint names. Who gets to open it? Keep it? Respond to it? At this point, you have got to get organized and work out some kind of a system because this affects everyone’s lives. The school notices for the kids are going to keep coming. The bills are not going to take a vacation and come back after you are divorced. Life continues to march on.

What system did you have in place prior to the divorce? Did you pay the bills or did your soon to be ex husband take care of them? The quicker you can separate the finances the better it will be. However, many times the house is being sold and you have to continue paying joint expenses. Or perhaps one parent is the one that takes the kids to the doctors and the other one has the medical insurance which needs to be filed for reimbursement. You need to have a system or a way of recording the expenses so that you can be reimbursed by your soon to be ex.  Create a system that works for you. If it is too complicated, the chances are you won’t stick with it so make it simple. If you are comfortable working with computers, do an easy excel spreadsheet marked Reimbursements Needed. If you are still working on your computer skills and are not quite comfortable yet, just hand-write it on a notepad.

We will be interviewing “experts” in this field to get their advice, but in the meantime I wanted to share a few organizational tips that have worked well for me:

1. Use a label maker and folders. Know your categories that you regularly have and have a file for each of them. (At least your papers will be neat.)

2.  Never handle a piece of paper that comes in your house more than once.  Either put it in the trash, shred it if it has any personal data on it, file it or respond to it. Keep this up on a regular basis, whether you decide it is done daily or weekly.

3.  Put as many bills on auto pay as possible.

4.  Have a set location in the house that you deal only with the papers, so they are not scattered everywhere.

UGH, life is complicated but that is no excuse to ignore this important issue—so get organized and come up with a system.

About Ann Zuraw

Ann Zuraw, the voice behind "Chicks, Chat and Change", is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®), and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™). If you have comments on this post contact Ann Zuraw

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