By Tracy Achen
Are you struggling for financial survival due to your divorce? If it's any consolation, you're not alone. Most women face a 27% decline in their standard of living after divorce. While the facts are depressing, there are steps you can take to get back on track.
As a woman going through divorce, you may wonder how you can possibly make it on your own. Let's face it, losing your husband's income can seriously change the way you do things. But, the sooner that you take steps to adjust to your new situation, the better for your financial survival. You are now in the driver's seat of your financial future.
If your ex-husband handled the majority of the money, you may be faced with paying the bills for the first time. Don’t be intimidated. Set up a central location to put your bills, sorting them by due date. Make a list of every account, including account number, company contact information, and average amount due. This information will be helpful in setting up a budget.
For some reason, people's eyes glaze over when you mention the word "budget'. But a budget can be your best friend until you get on your feet. It lets you see exactly where you stand financially so you can take steps to get your situation under control.
Your budget should include all the money coming in, including your paycheck, support payments, and any other reliable sources of income. You'll also need to list all your expenses. This will include utilities, loan and credit card payments, housing expenses, child care expenses, and more. To help you get all this information down and see where you stand, you can use our free budget worksheets.
It may just so happen that you have more bills due than you have money coming in for that pay period. Most companies are willing to adjust the billing dates if you call them.
If you are paid twice a month, one way to juggle your money is to pay the rent or mortgage and possibly a few small bills with one paycheck. Pay the rest of your bills with the other. If you are only paid once a month, adjust the billing dates to coincide with your paycheck.
Always pay your bills first, and use what is left over for gas, groceries, and other expenses. You should concentrate on what it takes to survive and get by for now. This may mean slashing your pre-divorce spending habits, not going out to eat, and abstaining from any expenses that aren't necessary. And you may also have to delay certain things, such as funding your 401K or your child's college fund for a while.
You may have to consider returning to the workforce if you were a stay at home mom before the divorce. Even if you had a job during your marriage, it may not be enough to cover all your bills.
You might consider looking into taking on a part-time job, even if it's only until you get on your feet. It's important to not procrastinate about searching for a new or better job because landing a job doesn't always happen right away. You can get more tips and ideas from our job tool kit.
There are also creative ways to increase your income. You might consider renting out a room if you own a big house. If you're renting yourself, getting a room mate can help cut your housing costs. Are there things around they house you no longer need that can be sold to raise extra cash? You might even consider selling your wedding ring if it holds not sentimental value to you.
Your financial situation can go down quickly after a divorce. If you realize there is absolutely no way that you can survive financially, it's time to ask for help. There are federal and state programs such as TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and more. This page on government benefits and Federal Assistance Programs outlines what is available, what the eligibility requirements are, and how go apply.
It may be depressing having to deal with all these changes, but remember...
"You can develop a wonderful life despite difficulties."
Accepting your current financial situation and making the necessary adjustments will go a long way towards protecting your credit, which will enable you to move up once you get on your feet.
There are quite a few financial adjustments a woman faces after divorce. To help you get back on your feet, check out the following articles...