Creating a post-divorce budget can save you time, money, and stress in the future.
It is common to find yourself feeling mentally, physically, and financially drained while going through a divorce. In addition, it can be hard to adjust to a “new normal” after your divorce. Balancing new schedules and social circles can be challenging enough without sorting through finances after divorce.
Read along for important tips and tricks to help you prepare.
If you’re unaccustomed to budgeting, it can easily feel like a punishment. Creating a plan for sorting your finances after divorce can cause anxiety. This is especially true if you’re already stressed about money and uncertain how you’re going to cover all of your costs. Budgeting and tracking expenses may feel like yet another tiring task to add to your already full plate. But, when done correctly, it is extremely rewarding.
But consider the positives: budgeting and the habits it creates will save you future time, stress, and expenses. Don’t think of budgeting as a punitive measure; think of it as the foundation of financial freedom.
First, it’s important to create a realistic budget so that you can get an honest understanding of your cost of living. Make a list of every reoccurring expense or cost category. Then, confirm your list with credit card and bank statements. Next, reevaluate that list with a critical eye and identify any expenses that could be reduced or eliminated. The end result of this exercise should be a range of numbers. You need to know the bare minimum to get by versus the cost of being completely comfortable.
It can help to add these forecasted expenses into a spreadsheet or budgeting app. Then, work towards allocating your money to each category without exceeding estimated amounts.
Now that you’ve calculated your monthly spend, it’s important to figure out how much income you receive from work. Make sure to consider deductions like healthcare or retirement contributions, and add in any child support, alimony payments, and investment earnings.
Once you have a realistic estimate of how much cash you bring in each month, take a look at your expected expenses again. You may have to reduce costs or brainstorm additional sources of income if you’re unable to make ends meet. Can you pick up a part-time job or gig work? Make an emergency plan for additional income, even if you don’t need one yet.
Although it can feel impossible when you’re already strapped, savings are essential to the ongoing success of sticking to a budget. There are three categories you should focus on initially:
There are plenty of unexpected expenses that arise in life—holiday gifts, new car tires, or a fund to replace your dryer when it dies. It is important to create a cushion in your budget to absorb unaccounted for expenses that arise along the way. A general rule of thumb is to have an account equal to three months of expenses, but it may not always be possible.
Don’t neglect retirement accounts. If you make contributions a habit early in the budgeting process, they will be easier to maintain. Taking advantage of any employer-offered opportunities can be a great way to build savings. For instance, plans that will deduct the money directly from your paycheck or match your contributions help build assets without having to actively think about setting money aside.
After you get your head above water, take the next step by starting an emergency fund. Start with a reasonable goal, like $1000 in savings, and work toward a three to six-month safety cushion of living expenses. It may not be easy, but the relief you’ll feel over having savings will far outweigh the short-term sacrifices.
Find the right tools and start planning.
Budgeting is all about creating a roadmap for your money and avoiding detours at all costs. Explore different budgeting systems and apps to discover what record-keeping method works best for you. In addition to organization, using tools can help establish a sense of accountability around your spending and saving habits.
In conclusion, focusing on sorting finances is important both before and after divorce. It can help you create an independent life that eases stress and opens the door for new opportunities. Family Plan is committed to empowering parents after divorce or separation. We help create harmony by improving collaboration, organization, and simplifying payment obligations to reduce stress and eliminate potential conflict. Download our app to get started.