I’ve just recently gone through a divorce, and now I find myself dealing with all my finances alone for the first time in years. I’m not really sure what to do going forward—not only because of the divorce expenses, but because I’m managing one income. Do you have any tips?
Single and Ready to be Financially Responsible
Divorce is hard—no matter the circumstances. Congratulations on making it through the process. Now you have the opportunity to rebuild your financial future. It’s never a bad idea to look over your finances to see where you’re at, especially since your financial situation has probably changed. Use this time as an opportunity to see your current situation and where you want to be in a few months, a year, five years, 20 years, etc.
You Are Not Alone
If taking care of the finances was something your ex-spouse did prior to your divorce, thinking about your finances going forward probably feels overwhelming. Even if you did handle them while you were married, it might feel overwhelming with so much changing. The good news is that you aren’t alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can always ask friends and family for advice.
If you don’t know any friends that can provide this kind of information or don’t feel comfortable asking them for help, there are resources available online. Depending on your financial situation it might be worth talking to a lawyer, banker or tax professional. Find people that you feel comfortable disclosing this information to. This is yourfuture—you get to decide how you handle your finances going forward and who helps you.
Learn about Money Management
If finances and money management is new to you, take this as an opportunity to learn more and educate yourself. Even if you were handling the finances while you were married, your financial situation has likely changed and there are plenty of resources available. Look online, try reading books on finances. Credit.com also has many articles with financial advice.
Start with a Budget
A great place to start your assessment is by creating a budget. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy or comprehensive. There are hundreds of websites, apps and other resources you can use. A lot of banks have budgeting tools available with their online banking or app. It might be worth checking if your bank provides a free tool you can use.
There are a ton of different budgeting methods. So if you try an app and you don’t like it, see what else is out there. Find something that works for you. If you want a detailed and in-depth analysis of your finances, go with that. But if that sounds overwhelming, try something simpler. Do what works for you!
An easy place to start is by using a spreadsheet to tally up all your expenses. Here are the key points you will want to factor into your budget:
Personally, I keep a spreadsheet of my bills so that each time I’m paid I know who to pay and when. It really helps to keep a list of my bills and when they’re due, all in one place.
Right now is a good time to rebuild your financial future. It might be a hard adjustment if your income has been reduced post-divorce, but it’s doable. Try to make these adjustments as soon as possible. It can be easy to overspend and get into debt, but it can take years to get out of debt. Do what you can to spend less than you are bringing in.
Now would be a great time to review the signers on your accounts to ensure that it’s just you (or you and whoever else you want on the account). Review beneficiaries on your bank accounts, 401K, life insurance, etc. If it’s an account that you opened 5-10 years ago (or more) it’s very likely that your situation has changed since then.
You Can Do This
Keep your head up and keep looking forward. You’ve got this! At least, that’s what I tell myself when big life changes happen to me.
These are things that people do frequently, so don’t let all of this overwhelm you! Make a list of what you need to do and consistently work on crossing items off your list. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t forget that it’s going to take time to get all of this done.