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Most of the questions I get from readers are strictly by the numbers – taxes, investments, mortgages and more. Here’s one that’s a bit different:

Hi Rob. My wife recently left me. I am trying to put the pieces of my life back together. I am renting a one bedroom apartment now (we don’t have kids). We are still working on our separation agreement, so there might be some financial surprises coming shortly. We just sold the house, and are splitting the proceeds 50/50. What should I do with the money, short, medium and long term? Any advice for a person who is suddenly single, facing the world now with only one voice, one set of eyes, and one income?

I thought this question needed an expert touch, so I consulted Jackie Porter, a certified financial planner (CFP) and co-author of a book called Single by Choice or By Chance. Here’s what Ms. Porter wrote back:

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“My advice to your reader is to be kind to himself. A divorce impacts all aspects of a person's life and upends a person's financial and emotional security. If you have strong friendships and family, ask for their support or seek the services of a professional counsellor. It is also important to know where you stand financially. Now is the time to create a budget that takes into account current expenses and income. It is important to understand where his money is going and look at ways to reduce his expenses and save as much of his income as possible for the future.”

Ms. Porter urges this reader to check his credit score and then build up his own credit identity to make sure he has access to low-cost borrowing as needed in the future.

She also notes that there are many questions raised by this reader’s query, including whether he has retirement investments or a pension. When the divorce is finalized, she suggests he find a financial adviser to work with in mapping out his future. For now, the important thing is to save as much as possible so that he has as much funds as possible to plan with as a single person. “A high interest account may be a great parking spot until many of the unknowns in his circumstances become clearer.”

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

Fly or drive for your summer vacation?

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A blogger has gone to a lot of trouble in producing this cost-benefit analysis of driving versus flying to get to your family vacation destination. At the end are rules of thumb for short, medium and long trips.

The wisdom of the crowd on how couples should manage money

A New York Times writer asked his readers for advice on how to prevent arguments over money from causing family strife. Lots of smart ideas here.

You tried a new product and it’s awful. Now, what?

A sensible alternative to throwing out a product you’ll never buy again. It’s all about saving money you’ve already spent.

Cats in your condo

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One of the sacrifices of condo living is less space for pets. Read here about how a couple manages with two big cats in a 470-square-foot condo in Toronto.

Today’s financial tool

Here’s a new mortgage payment calculator from the GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca, a good source of unbiased information on investing and personal finance.

What I’ve been writing about

  • You will never master your finances until you do this
  • Canadians are passing up billions of dollars in pension plan contributions from their employers
  • How ETF investors make extra work for themselves and hurt their returns (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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