The documents are drawn up, the papers are signed, and the deed is done.
Once your divorce becomes final, that means adjusting to a whole other set of issues, namely, surviving off one income when you’re accustomed to living off two. Here are some tips to making a post-divorce budget that works for you, no matter your income bracket.
1. Compare your income to expenses.
The first step in making a budget is sitting down and figuring out how much you make vs. how much you spend. Take a close look at your bank statements and monthly payments. How much are you spending on groceries every month? Are there expenses you can afford to live without? Do you really need to be paying for cable, internet, and a telephone bill?
Be sure to check whether there are automatic withdrawals coming out of your bank account, such as magazine, newspaper, or music streaming subscriptions. Those expenses can easily add up, and because they automatically renew, sometimes you won’t even remember you’re still paying for them.
2. Avoid taking on any new debt.
You may be tempted to take out a new line of credit “just to make ends meet” or “for a few months until I can get back on my feet.” However, opening up a new credit card is nearly always a bad idea. The interest can compound until, after a while, you’re paying just as much in interest as on the principal.
The same goes for payday loans, which can have interest rates of up to 300 percent, if not more!
3. Track your spending with an app.
Technology has made it easier than ever to know how you spend your money. Apps like LearnVest allow you to categorize your transactions by expense type, set and track goals, and always have a handy net-worth calculation on hand. They even have a premium feature that allows you to receive personalized advice from a qualified financial planner.
4. Consider applying for a second job.
It might be only temporarily necessary, but taking on a part-time job for extra cash could really benefit you in the long run. If you have any writing, graphic design, photography, or video production experience, there are plenty of websites and print publications looking to hire freelancers and independent contractors. Even if you don’t have any specialized skills, there are jobs in the food service industry — think waiters, bartenders, baristas — that need employees who will work nights and weekends. If you have child care experience, check out an app like UrbanSitter to see if there are any families in your area who need a nanny or part-time babysitter.