EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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April 28, 2013

Start a debt-free life after divorce

My divorce will be final in a month, and I’ll have $100,000 when everything is over. I will also have $8,000 in credit card debt, and I’m currently unemployed. Do you have any suggestions to help me move forward?

The first thing I want you to do is raise your right hand and promise never to use credit cards again. Then, if you still have any of those awful things, I want you to cut them up and close out the accounts. The next step is for you to find some kind of income, whether it’s a regular job or just something part-time to get money rolling in on a regular basis.

Your credit card debt is a small part of your financial picture right now. I think I’d go ahead and pay off the cards. That way, you’ll be debt-free and still have $92,000 in the bank. But here’s the key. You have to live as if that money doesn’t exist. Use just enough to get yourself settled, and go make some money so you can eat and keep the lights on.

A year from now, when you’re past some of this stuff emotionally and looking toward a new future, that money will still be sitting there. As long as you have this mentality, you’ll come through this mess stronger and in good financial shape.

My daughter has the opportunity to take a trip with her eighth-grade class. The cost is $650. Do you think she should have to contribute to the cost of the trip, or should I cover it all?

This is a really good question. When it came to making these kinds of decisions at our house, we’d take a look at whether the kid was behaving, getting good grades and stuff like that. It can be a challenge at that age, I know. But if they were living like responsible young people, we would pay for this sort of thing as a reward.

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