When going through a divorce, you will need to set up a budget for your future. If you’re on your own for the first time in a long time, you may not have given thought to how much rent will be or how much it truly costs to pay for health insurance or auto insurance and home or renter’s insurance. Everyday items that you never paid attention to – that cup of coffee at the drive-thru or lunches out with co-workers can add up and lead to a cash shortfall.
You need to budget for financial success after your divorce. Being suddenly single is a shock to your emotional and physical self. If you take steps to regain control of certain aspects of your life – your budget, for example – the transition will be easier and you will feel more in control.
Here are five tips for a better post-divorce budget:
- Don't “set it and forget it.” Your budget is a living, breathing document that must be attended to regularly. If you don’t “check in” and add in your income and expenses and track your spending, the budget is not going to help you regain control. Your budget will help you see where you’re spending and help you find ways to plug the holes if necessary. A budget will help you save for fixed expenses such as rent and help you prepare for emergency expenses.
- Be prudently frugal. You don’t have to be an “extreme couponer” in order to save money and live a financially responsible life. It won't hurt to look through the coupons that come in the weekend newspaper or online. Use coupons for items that you would normally buy. If you don’t need to buy in bulk and if it doesn’t make sense, then don’t use a coupon that requires you to purchase a dozen of one item to save one dollar.
- Eliminate waste. You may think that being on a budget means you can’t go out to dinner with friends or take the kids to a movie. You may need to cut back on those expenses, but why not look for money in places you hadn’t considered? When you locate “found money” make note of that on your budget – it is a great motivator.
- Can you negotiate a better price on your insurance?
- Do you need to pay for all of those cable channels? Many people are “cutting the cord” on cable and are watching television and movies in other ways like on Netflix or Hulu, among others, and are saving hundreds of dollars.
- Would you save money if you switched cell phone carriers?
- Can you talk with your bank about reducing or eliminating service fees?
- Don’t sacrifice everything. When you go on a diet and you only eat lettuce and carrots, the sacrifice is too steep and is not sustainable. The same goes for your budget. Don’t make such deep cuts that you’re eating dinner by candlelight and that your children can’t attend birthday parties because a gift isn’t in the budget. You need to be able to live and enjoy your life. Budget for parties and movies and for fun. Look for inexpensive ways to have fun – low cost movies at the library, a community-run waterpark, a bring-your-own lunch from home party with friends in the park.
- Find the money hiding in your pantry. Cooking at home is more financially responsible than ordering take-out food daily. Consider though – what ingredients will you need to buy for the meal you’re cooking? If you have to stock your pantry for every meal, you may not be saving anything. Look for meals that incorporate ingredients you have at home. Look for recipes that you will cook again and again so the investment you’re making in ingredients will not go to waste.
Talk with me and I can help you prepare a budget that you can live with. Each person, and each family’s budget and needs are unique. As a divorce financial planner, I know there is no one size fits all for a divorce nor is there a one size fits all for a budget. The best way to face your financial fears is to prepare a budget that is "values-based." If you don't know what a values-based budget encompasses, give our office a call. We can help you develop a budget that works for you.