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Divorce by Tahoe

My long standing joke with friends and family is that if you buy a Chevrolet Tahoe it means you will end up divorced. Over the past 16 years of practice I have had a disproportionately high number of divorces with Tahoes that involve loan payments. Get a Tahoe=Get divorced. Buying a cheap car or getting married at the courthouse has historically meant to me that your chances of staying married are higher. I say this because if you get married at the courthouse chances are good that you are focused on the marriage; not the wedding which is also key when it comes to staying married.

Why the Tahoe? Chevrolet Tahoes are very popular with families in the Midwest for their hauling capacity, farm use, and looks but they also cost a lot. The average price of a 2017 Tahoe is $48,795. Most people who purchase the Tahoe are doing so with a loan.

Finances are the leading cause of stress in a relationship according to a survey by SunTrust Bank. Different spending habits, hiding money and debt from each other and not consulting each other about large purchases are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to financial reasons for getting divorced.

What can you do about it? Start with staying informed about the finances. It’s very common to have one spouse who knows everything about the finances and the other who just goes along for the ride. This combination is a sure-fire way to be taken advantage of in a divorce. It’s also plain irresponsible. If you are reading this and you are in the process of getting divorced, then start paying a lot of attention to your finances.

Start with a written monthly budget. Have an idea about what bills are being paid, when they are due, and how much it costs your family to live every month when just paying the basics (mortgage, utilities, food, and necessary payments). If your spouse died tomorrow do you know what bills need paid? Do you know when they are due? Do you know what bills are being paid automatically and what bills your spouse actually makes a payment to every month? If not, you should.

Creating the monthly budget will also help you determine whether or not there is overspending and will then help you answer questions like “should we buy a Tahoe” and “can we afford the payment”. Instead of having emotional conversations about whether you have the money or not take the time to prepare a monthly budget and then figure out based on the numbers whether you can afford the Tahoe.

From the monthly budget you can also start saving money. Saving money starts with making automatic monthly contributions into a savings account; not lump sum deposits when you finally get the money. Start small with $25-$50 per month and then see how it adds up. Having a savings account is always a good way to alleviate financial tension in a marriage. Last but not least never buy a Tahoe unless you are paying in cash. No payment=no problem.