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3 Tips on Money & Divorce from Baywatch

by Chuck Bentley July 15, 2016

Originally posted at Christian Post July 15, 2016.

Dear Chuck,

I saw recently that the former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff headed to court to try and challenge the judicial order to pay his ex-wife $21K a month in alimony. I’ve read his assets went from $1.2 million in the bank to $600 after his divorce. What happened here, and how can I avoid this kind of financial fall?

Bummed for Baywatch Star.

Dear Bummed,

After decades of being known as “the most watched man on TV,” actor David Hasselhoff said in legal documents that his finances are a disaster, telling the court that his monthly expenses are $72,415 a month, including $21K in alimony to ex-wife Pamela Bach, and more than $18K a month going to support his two adult children who live with him. He’s asking the court for some relief, including an end to the alimony payments from the breakup of his marriage in 2006.

There is a lot for all of us to learn from this tragic story.

Famous, infamous, or unknown to the world, it is best to work to stay married because divorce is disastrous for everyone. And it’s been that way from the very beginning. In Matthew 19, the Bible records this exchange between Jesus and religious leaders of the day on the subject of marriage.

“Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

In the beginning, literally, God created marriage to end man’s loneliness. He so desires that we marry and reap the benefits of our union that in Malachi 2:16, the Bible says directly that God hates divorce. Anyone who has been through this nightmare can certainly understand why.

I believe that one of the many reasons that God hates divorce is because of the emotional and financial devastation that occurs for those whose marriages come to an end. Now clearly, I don’t know everyone’s personal circumstances, and if someone is in danger, they should seek help. But the reality is that when you consider the big picture of the impact of divorce, a terrible toll is paid by all in the family, which should be avoided if at all possible.

About 1.3 million couples a year will go through a divorce. Just like in the report of David Hasselhoff, finances can become chaotic. The Heritage Foundation notes “families with children that were not poor before the divorce see their income drop as much as 50 percent. Almost 50 percent of the parents with children that are going through a divorce move into poverty after the divorce.”

There are many reasons to work for a strong marriage, including the reality that it usually has a terrible emotional and financial impact on everyone in a family.

Tip #1: When it comes to building a strong financial foundation, get married and stay married, because two ARE BETTER than one.

Research indicates that married couples have the highest average income and net worth of any other form of living arrangement. Theaverage net worth of married couples is higher than if you are never married, divorced and live alone or living together.  The greatest setbacks to our net worth occur during divorce or widowhood.

Tip #2: When it comes to managing money, always spend less than you earn.

Sadly, how many times have we seen this scenario in the lives of celebrities, lottery winners or sports stars; no matter how much they earn, it is quickly lost through big-spending lifestyles. You can’t guarantee that every TV show will be an international hit or that you can buy another winning ticket. You can’t depend on the turn of a card or a game-winning touchdown. In times of short-term gain, put that money away to preserve your resources. You really can’t know if you will have that prosperity again. And the truth is, you probably will not.

Repeatedly in the scriptures, we are advised to build up our resources with steady work and through careful, steady plodding. In fact, the Bible warns against Get-Rich-Quick schemes. Proverbs 13:11 observes, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.”

Tip #3: More money does not solve financial problems. 

It has been estimated that David Hasselhoff earned more than $100 million throughout his television and film career.  Yet today, he says he is struggling to pay his bills. Who would have thought he could spend or lose that much money in a lifetime?

Spending less than we earn is a key lesson for all of us, no matter how much or how little we earn. Understanding how you view money and its purpose is as important as budgeting.

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