The time following a divorce can be a difficult one, especially when it comes to financial matters. Now that you have to adjust to managing money matters on your own, you may not know where to start. In this article, we'll help you take some initial steps toward creating a budget and becoming more independent as a newly single person.
- Step one: Be proactive
In other words, don't wait. Putting off creating a budget and getting a handle on your finances as a newly divorced person can often compound a difficult situation and make it worse - financially and emotionally. As bills mount and bank accounts go unbalanced, stress can take over and make you feel overwhelmed. It's important that you set aside the necessary time to get you financial game plan together.
- Step two: Be realistic with your expenses
As a single person, you have the advantage of controlling your finances - knowing what comes in and how much you are spending. So, if you routinely spend $150.00 a month on clothing for work, then be sure to budget for it. Pretending to spend less and budgeting for a $50.00 clothing allowance is just going to make matters worse. You owe it to yourself to be honest with yourself about your expenses. In the long run, you'll end up with a solid and more realistic budget plan moving forward.
- Step three: Live below your means
Once you've taken a realistic look at your monthly expenses, it's time to cut the fat. Simply put, it's time to identify areas where you can make cutbacks and begin living below your means. In doing so, you may find that little bit of extra money to set aside for building your emergency fund. For example, if you're a renter, can you find a less expensive house or apartment? What about public transportation or carpooling to work? Or cutting out cable? Living below your means doesn't mean living in poverty. It's about trimming back and being better prepared when that unexpected car repair or medical bill comes due.
- Step four: Generate extra income where you can
Today, there are many ways you make some extra cash - even with a full-time job. For example, there are numerous online survey sites that can bring in a few bucks without investing a lot of time and effort. Do you have a talent that others can benefit from? If you like to write, there are websites that will pay you to pen out short articles for online publication. If you're a photography hobbyist, there are sites that will buy stock photos. Are you well-organized? Then consider being a virtual assistant. The idea isn't to replace your current income, and you certainly won't get rich with many of these options. However, if you have the extra time and could use the cash, you could have some options.
- Step five: Get help if you need it
Sometimes no matter how diligent you are and how much you cut back, making ends meet can be difficult. Part of managing your newly single budget is recognizing when to get help. When times are rough, you may find it necessary to seek the assistance of a government or charitable agency. Try to keep an open mind and acknowledge that your situation is only temporary, and that these types of services exist for the sole purpose of helping those in need. If you can't pay your heating or electric bill, or need immediate assistance with gas or groceries, you may want to consider looking at what options are available in your state or county.
However you approach your new budget, know that you are not alone. Every day, people are having to start over after a divorce. Before long, you'll find that you're back on the right track and hopefully working toward a more financially secure future.