When you’re going through a divorce, it’s easy to feel like there are a dozen things on your plate, all overwhelming you by trying to become your priority. You might have to think about everything from moving out of your family home to getting a job for the first time in years.
On top of it, there’s the stress of actually going through the divorce. No one gets married assuming things will end up in a separation. Even if it’s an amicable divorce, separating from a spouse is never easy.
Money issues are the second-leading cause of divorce in the U.S. So, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that financial stress can be a huge problem after a divorce, too.
Divorce can devastate your finances. A simple divorce can end up costing thousands of dollars in filing and legal fees. If you have to go to court and pay an attorney, it can quickly double or triple in cost. You might also be used to a certain financial lifestyle that’s now completely changed, leaving you with the task of rebuilding your life from the ground up.
Managing Financial Stress After a Divorce
So, how can you manage financial stress after a divorce? What can you do to adjust to a single-person budget without feeling completely overwhelmed?
Manage Your Debt
There’s no denying that going through a divorce is stressful. It can negatively impact your mind and your mental health. In some cases, that kind of stress can manifest itself in physical problems like
- High blood pressure
- Muscle and body aches
- Compromised immunity
Dealing with financial issues will only contribute to your stress levels – especially if you have debt. Research has shown that being in debt can negatively impact your mental health. Unfortunately, it tends to cause a vicious cycle – the deeper your debt, the worse your mental health, the worse your mental health, the less able you’ll be to pay off your debt.
Taking care of your mental health is crucial for so many reasons during and after a divorce. But, managing your stress levels and focusing on your mental wellness can help to motivate you to get rid of your debt. Negotiate a debt settlement with your creditors, and commit to educating yourself on your finances for the future. When you feel confident that you can eliminate or manage your debt, you’re less likely to feel so anxious and depressed.
Build Your Budget
Once you have a plan in place for managing your debt, it’s time to look forward. You might be dealing with a single income for the first time in years, meaning there are certain things you’re used to that will likely have to change. That’s especially true if you have kids.
There are dozens of different budget plans out there, and it’s important to find one that works for your needs. A good rule of thumb is to spend about 50% of your budget on essentials (shelter, food, transportation), 35% on nonessential items like entertainment, and save 10-15%.
Take a look at your monthly spending habits and consider where you might be able to cut back. By trimming away a little here and there, you could save more than you ever thought possible. Not sure where to start cutting? Consider some of the following:
- Subscription services
- Dining out
- Cable/television services
You can also change your budget based on the income you’re bringing in. Whether you’re re-entering the workforce for the first time in years or you’re taking on a side hustle to make more money, the sole purpose of your budget should be making more than you spend each month. Once you’re there, stick with it, and you won’t have yet another thing to add to your post-divorce stress.
Make Small Changes
In addition to putting together a budget and deciding what to add and take away, get your whole family involved in helping to manage your finances.
No, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to talk about your financial stress with your kids. However, it does mean they can “chip in” and do their part to keep things running smoothly in your new family unit. Small changes around your home will make a big difference, and your kids can actually have fun seeing who can save the most money each month.
One of the easiest ways to save money is by cutting back on your energy use. Turn off lights when you leave a room, switch to LED bulbs, and run your appliances at full capacity. With a few changes in your energy habits, your electric bills will start to drop almost immediately.
You can do the same by saving water at home, cooking your own meals, and cutting back on any unnecessary driving.
Going through a divorce is stressful enough. The last thing you need is to let money negatively impact your well-being after going through one. Keep these ideas in mind to manage financial stress after a divorce, and know that things will keep getting better.