Your financial situation has likely changed dramatically. Money that once seemed plentiful may now feel scarce.
However, with some budgeting adjustments, you can make your dollars stretch further even with fewer of them. By reevaluating your spending, cutting unnecessary expenses, and finding ways to earn additional income, you can relieve the financial strain and start building a stable foundation for your new life.
With time and practice, smart money management will become second nature, allowing you to look toward the future with optimism instead of anxiety over each bill. Though the road ahead isn’t always easy, you have the power to achieve financial independence and security.
Assess Your New Financial Situation
Following a divorce, it is critical to review your finances to understand your new financial situation.
Compare your income and expenses before and after the divorce to identify how much your budget needs to change. If your income has decreased or expenses have increased, you will need to cut costs in other areas to avoid accumulating debt.
Scrutinize your income sources and amounts. Has your income been cut in half due to the separation of assets? Do you receive or pay alimony or child support? Account for all income including employment wages, investment returns, government benefits, etc. Project your income over the next 6-12 months to anticipate any fluctuations.
Review your regular bills and discretionary expenses. Look for expenses that can be reduced or eliminated like entertainment, dining out, vacations, hobbies, and subscriptions.
See if you can negotiate lower rates for insurance, utilities, loans, etc. by changing coverage or payment terms. Consider moving to a smaller, more affordable home if your current one is too expensive.
Build a realistic budget that balances your income and expenses. Allocate your income to essential costs first like housing, food, and transportation. If there is income left over, determine how much can be apportioned to discretionary items. A good rule of thumb is to keep discretionary spending under 30% of your budget.
Going through a divorce means adapting to changes in your financial situation. By understanding your new income and expense levels, reducing or eliminating unnecessary costs, and crafting a balanced budget, you can gain control of your money and move forward in a financially stable manner.
Careful planning and discipline now will set you up for financial independence and success long-term.
Change of mindset
A change of financial standards often requires a change of mindset. Create a game, or find enjoyment in finding cost effective ways to achieve things. This change of focus puts a positive spin on finding cheaper solutions, and can be applied to every part of your life.
Embrace new habits, let go of ‘the way you use to things’, they were based on a different financial standard to where you now find yourself. Not better, not worse, but definitely different.
Identify Areas to Reduce Spending
To make your money go further after divorce, you’ll need to scrutinize your budget and identify areas where you can reduce spending.
The largest expense for most people is housing. If your current home is too expensive for your now single income, consider downsizing to a more affordable place, taking in a roommate to share costs, or relocating to an area with lower living expenses. Any of these options can potentially save you hundreds per month.
Do you really need two vehicles? Selling one car can eliminate insurance, fuel, and maintenance costs. If public transit is available in your area, use it whenever possible to avoid parking and gas fees. Limit recreational drives and combine errands into one trip to reduce mileage.
Eating out frequently can strain your budget. Cook more meals at home using fresh ingredients and meal prep techniques like batch cooking. Buy generic or store brand items instead of name brands. Shop sales and use coupons or loyalty programs to save on groceries.
Entertainment and Subscriptions
Review all monthly subscriptions and streaming services to see what you can live without. Cut the cord on cable and choose a lower-cost streaming option. Limit dining out, vacations, and hobbies that require high upfront costs. Find free or low-cost ways to spend your leisure time.
Reducing spending in essential areas like these can help make your money go further after a divorce. While it may require some lifestyle adjustments, the financial freedom gained will be well worth the effort. With time and patience, you can build a sustainable budget that supports your new life.
Look for Ways to Increase Your Income
To cope with a reduced income following divorce, you’ll need to find ways to generate additional revenue. Consider the following options:
Develop a Side Hustle
A side hustle is a part-time job you can do in addition to your main source of income. Some popular options include driving for a ridesharing service, delivering food, walking dogs, renting out a spare room on Airbnb, selling unwanted items online, or doing freelance work like writing, graphic design, or online tutoring.
Starting a side hustle allows you to earn extra money on a flexible schedule without committing to another full-time job.
Ask for a Raise at Your Current Job
If you’ve been in your role for at least a year and have exceeded expectations, you may be due for a salary increase. Do some research to determine the typical pay range for your position. Then schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss your contributions over the past year and request a raise to match your performance and experience.
Come prepared with specific examples and data to build a strong case. A raise of just a few percent can generate hundreds or thousands of dollars more per year.
Develop Additional Skills
Another way to boost your income potential is to learn new skills that will allow you to take on higher-level work.
This could mean going back to school, participating in on-the-job training, or taking online courses to strengthen your existing expertise or gain certifications in an adjacent field. For example, if you work in administration, study to become a paralegal. If you’re in sales, work towards becoming an account executive. Sharpening your skills allows you to qualify for more advanced, higher-paying roles.
By implementing one or more of these strategies, you can generate additional income to help balance your budget after divorce. With time and effort, you can get your finances back on track and start rebuilding for the future.
Take Advantage of Budgeting Tools
Following a divorce, your income and expenses can change dramatically. To cope with tighter finances, utilize available budgeting tools and resources to gain better control of your money.
Create a realistic post-divorce budget
A budget helps track income and spending to avoid overspending. List your income sources and essential expenses like housing, food, and transportation. Look for expenses you can trim, like dining out or entertainment.
Use free budgeting apps like Mint, YNAB, or EveryDollar to set spending limits and monitor your progress. Review and revise your budget regularly.
Take advantage of expense-tracking tools
Once you have a budget, use expense-tracking tools to ensure you stay within budget. Record all transactions, receipts, bills, and payments to determine your actual expenses versus what you budgeted for.
Look for expenses creeping above your set limits and make adjustments. Popular free expense trackers include Mint, You Need a Budget (YNAB), and Personal Capital.
Look into assistance programs
Check if you qualify for government or nonprofit assistance programs to help with essential costs. Some options include food stamps/SNAP, child care vouchers, Medicaid, utility bill assistance, and free tax preparation.
Do research on eligibility criteria for programs in your area. Apply as soon as possible to avoid gaps in coverage or benefits.
Consider refinancing high-interest debts
High-interest debts like credit cards can be a huge burden on your budget. Look into refinancing options to lower interest rates and payments. Consolidate multiple high-interest debts into a lower-interest personal loan.
Check your credit score and credit report to make sure there are no errors before you apply to improve your chances of approval and getting the best rates.
With time and practice, adjusting to your new financial situation can become easier. Make use of all resources and tools available to gain control of your post-divorce budget.
Trim unnecessary expenses, reduce high-interest debts, and seek assistance if needed. Staying within budget will help establish financial stability, so you can start rebuilding your financial future.
Create an Emergency Fund
Having an emergency fund established post-divorce is essential for coping with unforeseen financial challenges. Aim to set aside at least $500 to $1000 to start, and build up to enough to cover 3 to 6 months of necessary expenses over time.
Why an Emergency Fund Matters
- Unexpected costs like medical bills, home or car repairs can arise at any time. An emergency fund provides a financial cushion so you don’t have to rely on high-interest credit cards or loans to pay for these unplanned expenses.
- If you lose your job or source of income temporarily, an emergency fund can help pay for essentials like housing, food, and transportation until you secure another job or income stream.
- Having cash set aside for emergencies gives you peace of mind and stability during a financially transitional period. You’ll worry less about how you’ll afford surprise costs or cope with loss of income.
Here’s a link to a budget planner from Money Helper.
How to Build Your Emergency Fund
- Set up automatic transfers from your bank account or paycheck into a dedicated emergency fund savings account each month. Even small amounts of $25 to $50 per month will add up over time.
- Look for ways to cut your budget by $10 to $20 per week. Things like eating out one less time, reducing utility bills, or canceling unused subscriptions or services. Put that money into your emergency fund.
- If possible, allocate any windfalls like tax refunds, bonuses or cash gifts into your emergency fund. The more you can add at once, the faster it will grow.
- Once you reach your target emergency fund amount, continue making small monthly contributions to keep the fund fully stocked for when life’s unforeseen events arise.
Having an emergency fund established will provide security and stability as you navigate your new financial situation post-divorce. Make building your emergency fund a top priority, and you’ll have a financial safety net in place for life’s unexpected twists and turns.
There are practical steps you can take to regain control of your finances after divorce. By creating a realistic budget, rethinking your needs versus wants, and finding ways to earn additional income, you can make your money go further during this transition.
While the financial impact of divorce can feel overwhelming, have hope. With time and perseverance, you can establish a new normal and build a stable financial future.
The key is not to go through this difficult process alone. Seek help from professionals if needed and lean on your support network for guidance and accountability. You have the power to adapt to your new circumstances.
Stay focused on your goals and be flexible in your approach. Financial security is within your reach.