MODERN women have embraced the mantra that a man is not a financial plan, but some have gone even further, by ‘man-proofing’ their money in case of separation or divorce down the track.

It’s a matter of being financially independent from day one, according to events professional Lucy Brown.

The 36-year-old is single, but recently bought her second Sydney property, eight years after buying her first one single-handedly, despite being in a relationship at the time.

“My partner at the time struggled to understand why,” Ms Brown said. “It’s always been a focus to achieve it myself. I started saving young and focusing on getting my first apartment, which I bought at 28.”

Ms Brown said she never wanted to be totally reliant on someone else.

“I realised I needed to look after my own future, money and education,” she said. “You still need to have your own independence (even if married) so you can always support yourself.”

Now proud of her achievements, her advice to other young women is simply to begin saving money.

“It can be daunting at first but you have to start somewhere,” she said. “Prioritise what you want; you can only spend the money you have. Limit credit cards and spend within your means.

“My goal is to set myself up for retirement. I don’t want to have to work until I’m 75.”

Around 97,000 Australians are divorcing each year and 50 per cent of these involve children, ABS figures suggest. De facto separations are also increasing and these often have the same financial implications.

Meanwhile, the 39th AMP. NATSEM Report found it takes 3.5 years on average between separation and divorce and five years to recover from the financial impact.

Super balances for divorced women are 70 per cent less than married women, while their assets are valued at 90 per cent less.

Being prepared with a prenuptial agreement or wealth trust before getting married is a good idea, according to Katrina Haskew, managing director of financial planners Leading Advice, along with increasing your general financial understanding.

“Many marriages contain a (financial) knowledge imbalance,” Ms Haskew said. “It can pay to spend some time better understanding your partnership’s different cash flows, assets, and debts.”

Ms Haskew suggested keeping track of your partner’s spending habits and upskilling in your career.

“Divorce can be financially devastating for anyone who has taken a long break from the workforce — a situation more commonly experienced by women,” Ms Haskew said. “Adding a few qualifications to your resume can help you get back on your feet more quickly in the event that divorce proceedings leave you high and dry.”


Author: Tim McIntyre