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Case Study: How We Helped One Client Gain Financial Confidence After Divorce

By Joe Gross, CDFA®

As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®), I spend a great deal of my time helping individuals navigate the financial implications of divorce. Today I want to share a case study of how I helped one client find financial clarity and confidence after her divorce. 

This client and I have worked together for over six years now, and I’m proud of the progress we’ve made. For the sake of anonymity, we’ll say this client’s name is Suzanne. Here is her story.

Client Background

Suzanne started working with JGP Wealth Management back in 2015. She is now 73 years old with three adult children: a son with special needs who sadly passed away in 2019, another son who lives in a house she owns, and a daughter who still lives at home. 

Before her divorce, Suzanne was married to a successful heart surgeon. Together, they had about $1.75M in invested assets (half in retirement accounts, half in non-retirement accounts). 

Suzanne’s divorce was contentious, to say the least, and she quickly realized how little investment and financial experience she had. Up until her divorce, she’d never really worried about money. The concepts of “saving” and sticking to a cash flow plan were novel to her because her husband typically handled those things.

She came to us at JGP Wealth Management because she needed help navigating her divorce and learning how to manage her finances on her own.

The Divorce Settlement

As part of her divorce settlement, Suzanne received $25,000 a month in support payments. We knew this money wouldn’t last forever, so we counseled Suzanne into setting aside a portion of it every month to help build up some cash reserves. She continued to receive these support payments for two years until her ex-spouse retired. Suzanne also received $2 million in life insurance proceeds when her ex-spouse passed away last year. 

An Overview Of Suzanne’s Challenges & How We Helped Address Them

Like many divorcees, Suzanne had several financial obstacles she needed help overcoming. Here’s an overview of each of those obstacles and how we helped her get through them. 

Controlling Spending

One of Suzanne’s biggest problems was that she had a difficult time staying on budget. It was quite common for her to rack up $50,000 on her credit card each year. We helped her create a monthly and yearly cash-flow plan, automate her savings, and manage her debt. These three steps were critical in helping Suzanne stay out of debt. 

Moving From Oregon To Arizona

Suzanne’s primary residence was originally in Eugene, Oregon, where she still owns a $1 million property. After her divorce, she wanted to move to Arizona, so we helped her get a mortgage and purchase a second home in Scottsdale for $500,000. 

Suzanne moved to Arizona with her daughter and son with special needs, while her other son moved into her Eugene home with his wife and stepdaughter. One challenge we’ve been helping Suzanne work through is managing expenses for her Eugene home (since her son is not paying rent). 

Putting Together An Estate Plan

When Suzanne’s ex-spouse died, it became abundantly clear that she needed an updated estate plan to help provide for her adult kids, including her son with special needs. We introduced Suzanne to a trusted estate planner who has since helped her build a comprehensive estate plan.

Learning To Manage Finances For The First Time

Suzanne is a wonderful person and is still so appreciative of the advice we give her. She has needed a lot of hand-holding outside of traditional money management, but we’ve been more than happy to help her hone these skills. 

Helping You 

At JGP Wealth Management, we specialize in helping high-net-worth individuals manage their finances, including divorcees. If you or someone you know is going through a divorce, we want you to know that you don’t have to go at it alone. We have decades of experience helping individuals navigate the financial implications of divorce and would love to help you come out on the other side with financial clarity and stability. 

If you’d like to partner with a financial planner who understands your unique needs and inspires you to be more confident in your financial decisions, contact Joe today at 503-446-6450 or jgross@jgpwealth.com

About Joe

Joe Gross is first vice president and senior financial advisor at JGP Wealth Management, an independent, fee-based financial advisory firm in Portland, Oregon. With over 25 years of experience under his belt, Joe is passionate about putting his clients first and helping them stay focused on their financial goals, inspiring confidence in their future. As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®), he specializes in addressing the unique financial issues of divorce. Joe is known for his tenacity to keep clients on track toward their dreams and for his attention to detail, which is second to none! His clients know that nothing will slip through the cracks when working with Joe! 

Joe graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in finance. Outside of work, he enjoys being involved in the community and is actively involved with organizations close to his heart. Joe is a former president and current board member of the ALS Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington and a long-time member of The Multnomah Athletic Club. In his free time, he enjoys fly fishing, spending time with his family, and cheering on his alma mater, the University of Arizona. To learn more about Joe, connect with him on LinkedIn. You can also watch his latest webinar in How To Pick Up The Financial Pieces After Divorce.