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Post-Divorce Finances - How To Make Sure You Stay On Track

A little planning goes a long way


Coins falling out of a jar and onto a table.
Credit: Josh Appel on Unsplash

I thought I was going to be stone-cold broke after my divorce.


I used to have nightmares of living in a tiny apartment in a shitty part of town and not being able to afford the basics.


I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to travel with my kids or afford to buy them the things that they really wanted. The future looked grim, and I was dealing with huge amounts of stress and anxiety.


It’s funny how life has a habit of turning out so different from the worst-case scenario movies that play in our heads when we face the end of our marriages and the prospect of once again being the only one responsible for our financial futures. 


Stepping Into the Unknown

I didn’t have a clear-cut financial plan when I separated from my husband.

At the time, I wasn’t even employed. I had trained to be a teacher, but I was only working part-time because we had made the decision that I would stay home for the kids until they went to school. 


I had no idea how I would make it all work; I only knew that I was determined as hell and that I’d do whatever it took.


I couldn’t afford to pay big money to professionals for advice, so I decided to educate myself on the best financial practices for someone who was now out of their marriage and running a family household alone. 


I found some excellent books and online resources that helped me to learn everything I needed to know to set myself up for the future. (Links to the best ones are below).


Ten years down the track, I’m in a stable financial position. Much better than I thought I’d be. I’ve travelled overseas with my kids and on my own, and my kids have never had to go without anything. We live in a nice home in a good neighbourhood, and I earn more than enough. 


It can be terrifying to leave behind the security of a double income. Yes, you will have to cut back in some areas, and you need to reassess how you will provide for yourself and your kids in the future.


You need to consider the fact that you may or may not get married again and legally join incomes with another person. You may be the sole provider for the remainder of your working life.


Money and finances post-divorce are broad topics because everyone’s financial situation is unique. However, here are some things I did to help pave the way to a stable financial situation after my divorce. 


  1. First and foremost: 

Come out of divorce ‘fog’. When you are exhausted from emotional turmoil, it’s hard to find the motivation to dig around in digital records or past paperwork to ensure you know exactly what’s happening. 

But it’s vital to do this as soon as possible. If it feels overwhelming, write a list of what you need to do and then break it down into small, manageable steps. In case you missed it, here’s my previous newsletter about how to set and achieve goals after divorce. 


  1. Create a Clear Financial Snapshot:

You need to know exactly where you are financially right now. 

Start by gathering all your financial documents, including bank statements, investment accounts, and property records. This will give you a feeling of knowing where you’re at and not floundering around in the dark, trying to guess what needs to be divided and how.


  1. Talk to a lawyer:

Even when things are fairly straightforward and amicable, it’s always good to talk to a lawyer and make sure you haven’t missed anything while you’re gathering what you need. A lawyer can identify any legal responsibilities you may not be aware of on your spouse's side. 

A divorce lawyer can also help with working out child support payments. This part can be confusing, and you don’t want to get it wrong. It’s difficult to adjust once it’s all been agreed on, so getting it right from the outset is worth it.


  1. Track your spending:

Go into your bank statements for the past twelve months and track your spending. Some awesome tools on bank sites now give you analytics about where you spend your money the most. 


I coded every transaction I made and looked at where I was spending weekly. Sometimes, I saw that my unnecessary spending was getting high, which would help me pull back and be more disciplined. Sometimes, you’re spending outside your means without even realizing it. 


  1. Hire a financial advisor where you need to:

Fortunately, our financial landscape was straightforward, and I didn’t need to do this. However, if you have a lot of complicated shared assets with your ex, it pays to get professional advice.


It may cost, but when you’re talking about high-stakes, you can’t afford not to. Initial talks with your lawyer will help to clarify whether or not you will need one.


  1. Create a detailed budget for your new circumstances:

When I started living alone, I sat down and wrote out every last expense that I could think of: school uniforms, car registration, haircuts, birthday presents, and online subscriptions. All the little everyday things that you don’t notice you’re paying half the time. I left no stone unturned.


Once I had everything on the list, I worked out what that would be each week and created a weekly outgoing spreadsheet. This helped me to see exactly how much I had left over every week for savings. It kept me laser-focused on staying within my means. It also showed me quickly what I could cut back on to increase my savings. 


  1. Set some financial goals for the future:

If the thought of financial planning puts you to sleep, you’re not alone. There are two types of people. Those who enjoy setting budgets, planning and finding ways to cut costs, and those who prefer to live for today and not worry too much about the future.


I confess I am definitely in the second category. However, even I managed to sit down and set some financial goals for the future to keep myself on track. Divorce is one of those times when you can’t afford to put your head in the sand; the finances have to be taken seriously until you know where you’re at and have a plan for where you want to be.


  1. Update your will and insurance policies

Review and update your will as well as any insurance policies you have. You may not need as much as you are currently insured for, and you could save money on premiums. Equally, you may want to consider increasing certain policies if you feel you don’t have enough cover for unforeseen circumstances. 


Where To Find Out More

Here are three books I highly recommend if you need some good, free advice. These books were the most helpful in keeping me proactive and informed about my financial future after my divorce. 


You can find all titles on Amazon by clicking the links below. 👇



 


Although it’s daunting to have to consider all of these things after divorce, remember that it’s a process. It doesn’t have to be done all in one day, so try not to fall prey to feeling overwhelmed.


As long as you have a ‘roadmap’ of what needs to be done, you can set small goals and tick them off one by one as you find the energy and the emotional resilience.


Your future self will thank you for committing to a plan and setting yourself up for financial stability in the coming years.



If you need support to set goals around your financial future after divorce, book a free 1:1 call here.

If you know anyone who could benefit from this newsletter, please consider sharing it with them ❤️

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