Making Ends Meet When You Are Suddenly Single

Are you having a tough time making ends meet now that you're single? Going through a divorce, regardless of which party instituted it, is a difficult thing for any person to go through. There are so many adjustments and your whole lifestyle has dramatically changed. Not only has your living situation changed, but if you are like a majority of those going through a divorce, your financial situation has changed as well.

Regardless of whether you receive a lump-sum alimony payment, monthly alimony payments, and/or child support payments, your income level has been drastically reduced. No payment received will ever compensate for the loss of that other salary.

Piggy bank with the word help spelled out below

Despite these financial changes, you are expected to maintain the lifestyle you had with your mate. You will still have a rent or mortgage payment, still have utility bills, a car payment, insurance payments, child care expenses, and all those bills you paid as a couple. How does one survive? The truth of the matter is most people don't. They are barely keeping their heads above water and still trying to maintain a household.

So, what's a person to do?

1. Don't Panic

Panic will not pay your bills nor will it change your situation. Lack of sleep, over eating, under eating, smoking too much, drinking, or any other thing will just make you more miserable and less able to handle your situation. You need to calm yourself down and keep your wits about you.

2. Prioritize

Not only do you have to prioritize your time, you will have to prioritize your bills. You need to take a hard look at your current financial situation. It may not be pretty, but at least it will give you a true picture of your current state of affairs. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I avoided this. I guess I felt what I didn't know wouldn't hurt me. Boy was I wrong.

You need to know. You need to know exactly what your monthly income is, as well as what your monthly expenses are.

3. Budget

Oh, how I hate this word! Even though I never budgeted when married, in order to maintain my household as a single person, I learned that budgeting was an absolute necessity to survive. It's amazing how you don't pay attention to your money until you don't have any. Now, it is time to pay attention. (You can get started with these budget worksheets.)

4. Food Management

The best way to keep an eye on your money is to watch how much money you spend on food. The average person runs to the grocery store for a few needed items, only to return with so many other things.

When you create a weekly guide of your meals, you will have a real picture of the items you need to purchase. Keep in mind all the items needed to make those meals whether it is oil, eggs, butter, etc. These little items can add up to more than the meats that you purchase. Planning your meals out for the week, including desserts, will give you an accurate picture of not only what you need to buy, but what you have to spend. (Here are more tips on saving money at the grocery store.)

5. Downsize

You need to determine whether your current living situation is something you can afford in your single state. If you are having a difficult time paying the mortgage or rent, consider options such as moving to a smaller place for cheaper rent, getting a roommate, or selling your present home to move into something smaller while making cash equity from the sale. These are all things you need to consider when trying to reduce your expenses.

You also need to do some comparison shopping for cheaper rates on your home insurance, car insurance, long distance carrier, and internet service provider.

6. Get the most for your money

Do you realize you can buy designer goods at drastically reduced prices by just shopping at thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets? I cannot begin to tell you the wonderful bargains I have found at thrift stores. Places such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army are wonderful places that are clean, bright and airy with fantastic bargains. Consider thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets, not only for your wardrobe, but for your household goods.

7. Make extra cash

Even though you have a full-time job, you can still find ways of making extra cash. The best way to make extra cash, without leaving the comfort of your home is to sell on online auctions, such as eBay, Yahoo, etc. There have been times that I purchased something on eBay and decided I didn't want it when I received it. Know what I did? I turned around and put it back on eBay and sold it for triple the price I purchased it for. Not too shabby! Another possible way of making money is to buy things at thrift stores and then sell them on eBay or other auction sites. I have made extra cash many times doing this.

8. Seek help

Sometimes, not matter how much you cut back, you are still having a difficult time making ends meet. There are though, many government and charitable agencies available to help you. Some might only offer one-time assistance to pay your electric or heating bill, while others might be able to help you monthly. Either way, if your situation is very difficult, it will be worthwhile to check into what is available for you in your state (here is an extensive list of financial resources for single moms).

Whatever you do, know that you are not alone. Millions of women are starting over after a divorce. Over time, your situation will improve, and before you realize it, you will marvel on how well you have done and how far you have come.

Copyright Pat Mistretta Author of "Surviving the Tough Times: How to make ends meet...NOW!"

May not be copied or re-distributed

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