When you're first married, life offers much potential. The world glows with positivity, and you and your partner are ready to tackle anything that comes your way.
If only that remained true.
Instead life can be a cruel, hard mistress. The glow and excitement of the future vanishes, and in its place come stresses, arguments, and fights. This may be why around half of all marriages end in divorce.
Such a situation is never pleasant. You find yourself without your other half, will have emotional stresses, and be down to one income stream. This can be intimidating for any divorced individual but is even more prevalent in the recently divorced.
Should you find yourself in that position you must act quickly to set yourself up for success in the future. This applies both personally and financially. Here are a few budgeting tips for the recently divorced.
Prepare a monthly budget
This applies to just about any financial situation, but it's especially important for the recently divorced. To set yourself up for financial success, you need to create a monthly budget that shows your income versus expenses. Do so immediately after your divorce, too. Your income will drop after the divorce is finalized, and it may drop substantially. You may be surprised about what you can no longer afford.
Create a spreadsheet, map all current expenses, and compare it to your income. Will you have enough to cover all costs? If the answer is no then you will need to find ways to scale back. Look at your most expensive costs and consider cutting services. Do you really need all of the streaming channels? What about the coffee you have out every day? That can be made at home. Trim anything that's necessary until you can better forecast the future.
Lose some of the luxuries
When married you may have been able to enjoy some luxuries in life. This is due to two incomes merged together. From a bigger house to numerous vacations, there are advantages to multiple income streams when married. That's not the case when you're divorced.
Your single monthly income may shock you, especially when compared to your expenses. What luxuries you could afford previously may need to be cut. And while it may be hard to part with such luxuries, you need to do so (for the most part, at least). Consider downsizing your housing situation or finding ways to generate revenue from it. Rent out a room or two if you have the extra space. Instead of taking a couple vacations per year consider just one, if any.
By cutting back on some of the luxuries now you will be able to take advantage of them later when you can better afford – and thus enjoy – them.
It's also important to avoid any added debt. Don't be tempted to charge more onto a credit card in order to afford a previous luxury. You might could pick up a good balance transfer credit card to get a lower APR, saving you some money in interest. Just don't go charging everything new to that card and get in more debt.
Know what the other will provide
Divorce can be cordial. It can also be brutal. No matter what situation you find yourself in you should have some conversation or ability to communicate with your former spouse about what they will provide financially. This is especially important if the two of you have children together. Who is responsible for what childhood expenses and what portion will you be responsible for? Are there any other necessary expenses that need to be divided?
Ideally this will be part of your divorce proceedings but is still something to keep in mind. There is nothing worse than being fronted with a bill or expense you didn't expect.
Back to the drawing board
Remember back to the days when you were single and how you lived then. You were able to survive, plan, and invest in your future. You are now in the same position. Take cues from who you were before you were married and apply them once again. Live within your means, consider downsizing, and remind yourself there was a life before your spouse. Doing so will help you both emotionally and financially.
Consider a part-time job
The advent of the internet and technology has brought with it many ways for individuals to establish other revenue streams. Now you can find a part-time job or another way of bring in extra cash to better supplement your lifestyle.
From writing about your experiences online to driving for a ride-share company, a side hustle may be just what you need to take your mind off your divorce while also providing an added financial boost. Do so with the intent of having fun. You'll likely have more time to yourself and should effectively use that time to remind yourself of who you are and what you enjoy. By monetizing what you enjoy, you can take your mind off both personal and financial stresses.