This is likely to be an extremely difficult time in your life and potentially you are managing your finances for the first time. Firstly the best advice we can give you is to start today; no more procrastinating. The first step is sometimes the most difficult to take.
Make a list of your short and long term goals. Your top 3 short term goals might include 1) repayment of debts/mortgage 2) childcare 3) family break/holiday. Your top 3 long term goals might include 1) funding your children’s 3rd level education 2) planning / preparing for retirement or 3) protecting your dependants in the event of your premature death or illness now that you may be the sole earner. These are personal goals to each individual, however, identifying your own needs will help you better plan for achieving them.
Whatever your situation you should have a plan; this is where a professional financial adviser will be able to help. You need a formal written plan that includes your objectives and goals. This way you’re more likely to stay on track to achieve those goals. The focus here is on prioritising your needs and which solutions can be implemented immediately. A professional adviser will be objective and will work within your budget. They will look at your income and expenditure, identify your immediate financial needs, look at any tax relief, allowances and benefits you might be entitled to and help you make some of those hard decisions you might not be able to make on your own. The peace of mind that this will bring is immense.
Automate as much as possible; what I mean by this is that if you have a standing order set up to pay utility bills, send money to your Credit Union account or into your pension each month, your main expenses are covered every month and you’re more likely to save consistently during good times and bad.
Forget the ‘noise’; ignore the media hype over retirement planning or market turmoil or high charges; if you have a decent financial plan which is reviewed annually with your advisor, you have the luxury of knowing that your goals and objectives are on track.
Finally regardless of your circumstances; live within your means. Review your expenses regularly to make sure they remain in or around what you had budgeted for. Whether you are recently separated or widowed, creating new spending habits can be your main challenge and one that will have the biggest impact on your financial future. No-one said it would be easy particularly if your living situation and routine has changed drastically. Living within your means, setting out your financial goals and asking for help when you need it is the best advice you could stick to.