Divorce will turn your financial life on its head between the decrease in the income you will now run your household on, the recent legal fees you have incurred, and the many things you probably need for your home now that you and your ex have split your belongings. How will you survive on a tighter budget? Here are some tips that my family and I have relied on to get us through the leaner times.
19 Savvy Ways to Survive On Your Post-Divorce Budget
1. Say “no” to retail therapy! While a great new pair of shoes or something cute for your new place might give you just the rush of joy you need right now, you might just want to pass for now. Buy what you need, but look for other outlets to help make you feel good that don’t involve spending money. Try journaling, going on walks with a friend, give yourself a mini spa night at home, or watch a sappy chick flick that your ex would never put up with.
2. Think twice about major purchases right now. Contemplate why you really need a bigger ticket item, if you could get by for less right now, and if you might be able to get by with the purchase at a later date when you feel more stable.
3. Check out thrift and consignment shops, garage sales, and events designed for moms to swap toys and clothes. As fast as kids outgrow things, it’s hard to justify paying full price, and many gently used items are available that can save you a bundle. Moms can also find some fashionable items for next to nothing in these alternative settings!
4. Clip coupons, use store apps that offer discounts and incentives and check the ads for deals. It is a little extra work, but you can save a lot of money by carefully planning your shopping, and buying store brands or items on sale.
5. Set a budget and stick to it. You need to have a strong sense of what income you have to work with and how much you need for all of your regular expenses, while saving some aside for savings and emergencies.
6. Network with other moms to find what you need. Several of my co-workers routinely bring in trash bags full of clothing that we cycle around between ourselves. My kids have inherited hundreds of dollars in nice quality clothes that didn’t cost me a dime, then when my children outgrow them, I send them back into the rotation for another mom to use.
7. Ask friends and family what they may have to help. When I moved out of my marital home, my ex and I were able to split our goods pretty well so that we each had what we needed; but, I still needed a washer and dryer and a dining table. I asked around, and friends came forward with exactly what I needed. I paid $50 for a used, but decent, washer and dryer and the dinette was given to me!
8. Try to learn to take care of what you can yourself. You can learn how to do thousands of things by watching videos online, reading articles, or asking someone who is knowledgeable. You will be surprised at what you are able to figure out yourself, and save some cash too!
9. Don’t compete with your ex to see whose home is the most fun or which parent does the most extravagant and expensive things. Your kids need you, not another gift or over-the-top outing. It’s disappointing to not always be able to go everywhere and buy everything your kids want, but it’s not worth having your electricity shut off just to look cool for your kids!
You can still give your children a fun and amazing childhood by doing your homework and asking around about free and low-cost activities in your community. I have a blended family of eight, and we manage to stay very busy on the weekends and over the summer without going broke. I sign them up for many free and very affordable day camps offered by the local police, the library, our church, and the parks district. Check websites of community organizations to see what you can get your kids involved in and for activities you can do as a family.
10. Check out Pinterest, the library, and DIY shows to inspire you with ways you can save funds by growing your own garden, making your own laundry soap, sewing your own Halloween costumes, or cooking a tasty meal instead of dining out. You can find hacks and instructions for an amazing array of things like homemade oven cleaner, gifts for all occasions, and beautiful home décor on a dime!
11. The new post-divorce you might also benefit from an education. You can access a tremendous range of certificates, licenses, and degrees through online or community educational options. Many grants and scholarships are available for moms or based on your income, and more education might put you in a better position to support yourself and family.
12. Take a long hard look at where you can cut costs and simplify your life. Maybe you can do without the gym membership and run at the park instead or cut out the number of trips you make to the movie theater and have a fun family movie night at home. Pack lunches instead of buying, skip the fancy salon for haircuts, and consider brewing your own coffee instead of picking up expensive coffee house java in the mornings. You will survive!
13. Make wise purchases by asking friends and families for recommendations of where to shop or for specific products you want to invest in. If purchasing online, read reviews from other customers to avoid buying something you will be disappointed in.
14. Save what you can. It’s hard when you only have your income to rely on, but try to discipline yourself by creating envelopes for short or long term needs and putting aside what you can so that you have a safety net and some money available for a vacation or other needs.
15. Learn to say “no.” It is so tempting to give in to every request from the kids or to feel obligated to support every fundraiser or friend having a home party selling candles or food storage containers. You’re not a terrible person if you don’t buy a box of cookies or over-priced frozen pizza for your kid’s school!
16. Sell what you don’t need! You may be sitting on valuable jewelry that you now associate with your former marriage and will now never wear. What about an extra car, your wedding dress, or other items of value that are now unwanted and take up space?
17. Downsize to the size and budget that is appropriate for your new lifestyle. Accept that your life has changed and you need to embrace who and what you are now
18. Review your insurance coverage and make sure you are not paying for more home, people, or other needs that are excessive or no longer necessary.
19. Apply any marketable skills you have to earn extra income through direct sales, freelance writing, providing childcare, or putting other talents you have to good use.