Are you in the midst of going through a divorce or have recently finalized a divorce?
Divorce is considered one of the most stressful events a person can experience. Not to mention that it often leaves you emotionally, physically, and financially shattered. However, you can rebuild your life after divorce.It may not be easy, but if you do things such as assess your situation, pay off debt, and focus on your health, you can begin to build a new life for yourself.
Starting Over After Divorce
Divorce affects life in many ways, including financially. In fact, one study by the Government Accountability Office showed that divorce dropped a man’s household income by 23%. For women, the statistics were even more staggering: a divorce meant a 41% drop in income. (Check out the full study here.)
So, how can you start over after divorce, financially and otherwise? Here are some tips. Let’s start off with financial recovery after divorce.
Assess Your Situation
Divorce can be expensive on many fronts. Of course, there are lawyer fees, which can be astronomical. A recent survey by Bankrate reports that the average divorce costs $15,000.00 but that expenses vary considerably. (Check out the full Bankrate Survey on the costs of divorce here.)
Then there are the “starting over” costs. And the “getting healthy” costs. And the “surviving in the interim” costs. If you’ve gone through–or are going through–a divorce, you’re probably stunned at how fast money was/is going out the window.
While it’s important to keep an eye on your money during the divorce process, assessing your financial situation after the divorce is final and the assets and debts are split is crucial.
You need to know where you stand so you can make smart financial decisions going forward. Start that process by making a complete list of all of your expenses, assets, and debts.
Create A Budget
Now that you know where you stand, creating a budget for your newly single life is also important. Things have changed.
Your income has probably dipped–either because you’ve lost access to your spouse’s income or because of financial obligations from the divorce.
If you’re a parent with custody of the kids you may be raising them alone. Or, you may be on the hook for expensive alimony or child support payments. Similarly, you may have substantially reduced retirement savings due to asset allocation in the divorce.
In addition, your housing and other expenses may have changed. Creating your first budget after divorce might seem daunting, but you can do it.
Write down all of your expenses and compare it with your income. Then trim your budget where needed, ensuring you’ve got more money coming in than going out each month.
Related: How To Make Your First Budget
Get A “Multiple Sources of Income” Mindset
One of the biggest risks of divorce is that you may be left with only one source of income. If you’re used to having two sources of income, this can be a shock.
If you were a stay-at-home parent, you’re likely doubly affected by your new, lower-income. That was the case with me. I was a stay-at-home mom for 18 years when I found myself unexpectedly divorced–and raising four kids on my own.
Although I was bringing in a bit of money from freelance writing, it wasn’t nearly enough to replace our previous household income.
I went into the “multiple sources of income” mindset as soon as I came to terms with the direness of our situation. I started taking on more clients for my writing business.
I took a part-time job offer to be the administrator for a small homeschooling organization. I got my real estate license. And I started some additional small businesses.
Nearly two years later, I’m still at home and homeschooling my kids–and achieving increased financial security every month. And I know that if one of my sources of income goes away, I’ve got others to fall back on.
Having multiple sources of income will give you huge peace of mind as you start your new life.
Pay Off Your Debt
And if you’ve got lingering debt from your divorce, having additional income sources will help you pay it off faster. Total financial security is even more important now that you’re single.
Make a plan to pay your debt off as soon as you can. Get creatively frugal and get that debt off your plate. You’ll be so much more at peace when you do.
Build An Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is another vital asset for your newly single life. Set aside six months’ worth of expenses–whether that’s by using monetary assets gained from the divorce, saving monthly or selling stuff you don’t need.
Your emergency fund will be your financial “partner” that has your back when it comes to unexpected financial fires.
Related: How To Save $1,000 In 30 Days!
Focus On Your Health
Major life events like divorce can take a huge toll on your health, and fostering recovery is important. Treat your body well during and after your divorce.
Eat a diet largely based on whole foods, with lots of vegetables and fruits. Be sure you’re exercising too. Go for daily walks. Practice strength training exercises that use your body weight, such as:
- Abdominal crunches
Take a yoga or pilates class. Start running, biking or hiking. The goal is to get those endorphins flowing and clear your body and mind of stress and negativity.
Work On Your Psyche
This reminds me: learning to think positive is important too. I realize this can be difficult after a divorce. Your mind might be working overtime beating yourself up for past mistakes, but learning to overcome these thoughts is necessary.
Divorce takes a huge toll on your mind and emotions, whether you ended your marriage or your partner did. Your brain will run through a gamut of thoughts, and it’s important that you work through them.
You may be able to do this with the support of trusted friends and family members, or you may need professional help. Find a good therapist, or join a divorce recovery group.
There’s no wrong answer here; just be sure you’re working through the range of emotions that come with divorce and divorce recovery.
Divorce can be devastating to your finances and other parts of your life, but recovery can happen. Just keep learning and taking steps to move forward in a positive way.