RSS
Making money: Planning for divorce, and more
3 top pieces of financial advice — from college-aid basics to staging your home to sell
 
Divorce is no piece of cake, but it could be easier if you are the first to file.
Divorce is no piece of cake, but it could be easier if you are the first to file. ThinkStock/Digital Vision

Planning for divorce
If you're calling it quits on a marriage, there are financial advantages to being the one to make the first move, says Jeff Landers at Forbes. "While it certainly doesn't make sense to race" a spouse to the courthouse out of spite, "there are legitimate reasons to consider filing first." It gives you an unimpeded opportunity to assemble a divorce team and all of the necessary financial and legal documents, including bank statements, tax returns, and insurance policies. Anyone considering divorce should also "immediately begin to set aside money for the expenses involved." Filing first may prevent your spouse from hiding any assets, and gives you the chance to present your case first and "choose where your divorce will be adjudicated." 

College-aid basics
Making sense of college financial aid can be "a dizzying exercise," say Ruth Simon and Rob Barry in The Wall Street Journal. But there is a rational way to judge how college financial-aid offers from different schools stack up. First, figure out the net price of each college by adding up tuition, room, board, and transportation expenses and subtracting grants and scholarships. Since many schools raise tuition each year, estimate the cost over four years — and remember that in many schools, "freshmen receive more of their aid as grants than seniors do." Take a hard look at outcome data: What is each school's graduation rate, and how many graduates default on student loans? Debt load can have a massive impact on future choices. "Students who borrow heavily are less likely to attend graduate school, and might be under pressure to choose a job that pays better over one for which they are better suited." 

Staging your home 
First impressions matter, especially to house-hunters, says Dan Fritschen in USA Today. That's why it's important to make your home as presentable as possible when putting it on the market. Start by cleaning up your driveway and front yard — get rid of weeds, trim shrubs, install new light fixtures, and touch up the paint. "Many buyers want to see the kitchen first, so keep the route from the front door to the kitchen clean and bright with no distractions." And make sure the kitchen and bathrooms are spotless. There may be no better time to clean out your closet: One that isn't stuffed will look larger, and besides, "you'll have to pack all of your stuff eventually."

 
Sergio Hernandez is business editor of The Week's print edition. He has previously worked for The DailyProPublica, the Village Voice, and Gawker.

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week