There are times of the year and times of our lives when money worries increase. January can be one of those. Credit card statements from holiday gift giving arrive. The cold means more dollars for keeping our car going, our sidewalks clear, and our homes warm.
Whether it’s January or July, during a divorce, the money worries multiply.
Our entire financial picture changes during divorce. The same dollars which once managed to support one household must now provide for two. Replacing furniture, movers, deposits, and legal fees. All expenses added to the budget.
The overwhelm can be so great that we can barely stand to look at it. There is a temptation to let the stack of bills pile up or to ignore how much we have drawn on our line of credit. It takes a lot of courage to face the financial reality of divorce.
There is so much uncertainty. The amount of child support, the debts you may be ordered to pay, or whether there will be a cash settlement could all be unknown.
It’s hard to know where to start, but we know that the first place to begin is to look. Here are questions to consider as you journey from worry to small actions:
What are my monthly living expenses? Many might be clear whereas others are uncertain. Your expenses might change from the time of your divorce starts until it ends, so consider this an ongoing process.
Am I using my creativity? When we have fewer dollars to go around than we are accustomed to, it’s necessary to rethink the ways we spend money. How we eat, entertain, travel, or dress our children may call for new ideas.
Which expenses can I postpone for now? Your divorce will not go on forever (even though you might feel as though it will). Consider whether any of your non-essential expenses can be postponed or skipped for now. We get the thought that because we have done some event each year that we have to do it this year. The truth is, the time of your divorce is exceptional and you might want to consider some exceptions to your spending.
Who might be willing to help me financially during this time? You might be surprised to learn that friends and family members want to help you during this challenging period. Consider who you might ask for help so that you can make it through this time of your life.
Am I paying attention? Keep a close eye on your finances. Are you staying within your budget? (You do have a budget, don’t you?) Whereas in the past you might have looked at your finances once a month, now you may want to look more closely and more often. Clarity about your money situation will help you to focus on finding solutions.
Do I need help? If you notice that you continue to be so overwhelmed that you are not taking action to manage your money during this time, ask for help. Find a person you trust who has done well managing their money. Ask them to spend some time with you to develop a plan.
If winter worries about money are getting you down, remember that each day will bring a few more hours of daylight if you are willing to look, take small actions, and let in support.
What is helping you to make it through the financial challenges of your divorce?