Divorce is never easy, even at times when there is complete agreement on everything between the couple.
There are many emotions, pressures and financial issues and concerns to deal with, especially if kids are involved. And in the midst of negotiations with your spouse, it can be hard to think ahead to the time when you will be officially divorced and will have to fend entirely for yourself.
Oftentimes you lose sight of the bigger picture and then reality hits-hard. With this in mind, we’ve come up with the following general guideline to help you plan ahead and be prepared financially to embark on your new journey in life.
Plan Your Career
First things first: you will need to have a steady and stable flow of income you can rely on to cover your most basic necessities such as rent, food, water and gas bill, etc.
If you weren’t working before your divorce, a great start to build up your income is to get back in the workforce as soon as possible. For some, joining the workforce after a long break is a daunting and frightening prospect.
Either you are concerned you have years of catching up to do in your designated field before anyone will consider hiring you, or you don’t have any experience or degrees at all and you’re worried you won’t be able to make more than the minimum wage.
But investing in your career is probably one of the financially smartest things you can do for yourself post-divorce. Set aside costs for studying for your degree or obtaining marketable skills including tuition, books, laptop, etc.
Your spouse can also, potentially, cover this for you in your divorce settlement if you don’t have the money to set aside for it right now. It’s as much in his interest as it is in yours that you make ends meet, especially if you had been the one to take care of the household duties and children during your marriage.
Review Your Finances and Expenses
Many family living expenses are based on a two-salary income.
After the transition to a single parent lifestyle, your expenses will drop but just slightly; bills, mortgages, insurances, and maintenance costs still need to be paid and budgeting all this on just one salary can be tricky and challenging.
First of all, use your bank statements and credit card bills to make a list and prioritize all your expenses. Summarize them by category and create columns for yourself, your ex and your kids. Be sure to put down future potential costs such as college and medical insurance for your children.
This will give you a better idea of how much you need to continue paying after the divorce and how much would be split up between you and your former partner.
Next, rethink your financial habits. For example, how often do you use your car and would taking the bus to work be an option? Do you eat out or do you cook? Do you live close to your place of employment or in the suburbs? How big is your house and do you need as much space in your life post-divorce? Can any of your belongings be monetized to help give you some financial security in your life post divorce?
Some companies such as Worthy, for example, can purchase your wedding ring from you if you don’t intend to keep it, thereby providing you with a safety net when starting out on your new path. The answers to these questions affect your quality of living and can also save you a lot of money.
Create an Emergency Fund
Future potential financial hardships will be extra difficult to manage since you can’t fall back on your spouse anymore and will need to deal with them alone. This is why it’s so important to create an emergency fund so you will have that security net to lean back on. Experts advise on setting aside the amount of six months of your living expenses so you have half a year’s worth of money set aside when experiencing financial hardships.
Got any tips for getting by financially after a divorce? We’d love to hear them!