Getting a divorce is never an easy process to navigate. Whether you’re dealing with the weight of this decision now or have been grappling with the ups and downs of your marriage for a long time, divorcing is always an emotional experience.
On top of this myriad of emotions, you have to deal with the logistics of meeting with lawyers and divvying up assets.
How To Feel Financially Empowered After a Divorce
After all is said and done, feeling optimistic about life after your divorce is an incredibly important mindset to adopt. Feeling empowered to be the best version of yourself as you begin your new chapter and harness your inner independent woman can begin with a little financial planning and organization.
Establish Your Independence
Once your divorce is finalized, make sure you go through and update all of your accounts. This means anything from your beneficiaries, passport and driver’s license, to banks and insurance companies. Making sure these accounts are listed with your change of name or address, and are aware of the split soon after the legal proceedings are finished will save you a headache down the line.
You’ll be thanking yourself later once you’ve created a list of these accounts and tackled each update in a few sittings. This is a tough process and it’s completely understandable if you aren’t emotionally prepared to deal with these particular aspects right away. It can help to talk to a therapist in order to stay in the right mindset about a life separated from your spouse.
In addition to seeing a therapist for your emotional aspects, it’s important to see someone for your financial ones. Consulting with a financial advisor to stay organized, manage stress, and effectively plan for your future will also help you to stay confident and optimistic.
Odds are your credit score will be affected by divorce if you have joint accounts. The proceedings of a divorce and your status as married or single don’t affect the score directly, but when accounts close abruptly, that can put a dent in your credit. There are ways to protect your credit during a divorce, especially if you’re on good terms with your ex-spouse.
For example, you can change your credit card accounts so that you’re the sole individual responsible for them by removing a name from the account. Working together with your ex-partner to pay off these accounts and alerting your credit card issuer will work in your favor and make for a smoother separation.
Take a Look at Your Expenses
Amongst the chaos a divorce can cause, looking at daily, weekly, and monthly expenses to create a budget post-divorce can serve as a helpful organizational tool you can refer to. Make a list of all your essential expenses like groceries, car payments and gas, rent/mortgage and more to focus on.
Remain conscientious of all the money coming in versus going out. If there’s any excessive spending going on, such as shopping more than usual or going out to eat a lot, see where you can cut down. Treating yourself every now and then is important, especially during a stressful time like this, but saving up for bigger purchases or experiences can be more gratifying than short-term rewards.
Determine Personal Goals
Deciding what you want to do with your newfound freedom can be a very liberating feeling after your divorce is finalized. Taking the time to focus on your personal goals and achievements is the next best step to getting the most fulfillment out of your life. Whether this means you want to travel to a bucket list destination, remodel your home, buy the car of your dreams, or start a small business, mapping out day-to-day practices to reach these goals is the perfect place to start.
Determining whether these are short, mid, or long-term goals will help you budget accordingly and categorize savings accounts for specific funds. Labeling these financial goals with their level of priority will make sure you don’t lose sight of what is a want versus a need. For example, saving up for a beach vacation may be less critical than emergency car repairs or your child’s impending college fund.
If you want to move to a new city or redecorate your house, plan to stash away some money for moving costs, new decor, or renovations. Getting away from a space you once shared with a significant other or transforming it into something new and fresh can be a much-needed breath of fresh air after a divorce.
Once you’ve determined that a new home is right for you, then you need to take a look at your financial situation. It may be beneficial to ask yourself, how expensive of a house can I afford?
Taking into consideration your debt, income, and savings for down payments and closing costs will help determine your price range for home buying. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you have a sentimental attachment to the home or don’t want to move your kids out of their space, you can refinance your mortgage to get your former spouse off of the home loan and make sure the mortgage is in your name alone.
Take Initiative With Your Future and Career
One of the greatest ways to remain empowered after a divorce is to truly find out what you love to do. Whether you want to explore new hobbies, volunteer locally, or take more initiative at work, finding something you excel at and enjoy can brighten up your everyday life.
You may want to go back to school or change your career path, and this is a notable pursuit; finding something that motivates you and makes you feel fulfilled is well worth the effort. If you want to start a side hustle or business, this could be a passion project worth the time and investment.
Even making a change within your company and applying for another department can be a fresh start. Showing that you’re passionate about what you do at work can lead to new opportunities in leadership or promotions. According to Business Insider, there is still a significant wage gap, with women being paid about 17% less than men. With more strong women taking the lead in the workforce, we can work to narrow the gap and empower our financial futures.
Divorce can be an incredibly emotional process to navigate and leave you feeling unknown about the future. Instead of feeling nervous about what’s next, taking steps to empower your financial future and prepare for life goals will allow your new chapter to be even more exciting.
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