After a divorce, your financial situation may feel like it changed overnight. By creating a budget, you know where you stand with your finances which helps you avoid surprise expenditures, and keep you on a steady course of financial stability. Here are five budgeting tips for after your divorce to get you started.
List Your Current Expenses and Income
Listing your current expenses and income will help to give you a visual of what you're bringing in every month through your job, child support, investments, etc. versus the essentials you're paying out, such as child support, alimony, rent/mortgage. This will allow you to properly begin to budget based on what you make as well as on what you spend on monthly essential expenses.
This can happen through programs on your computer such as Word or Excel, or you can keep it simple with basic pen and paper. No matter how you list your expenses and income, getting a handle on these indispensable expenses is a pivotal step in understanding your spending habits and sets the course to financial wellness.
Track What You're Spending
Understanding where your money comes from and where it goes is crucial when setting up a post-divorce budget. Begin tracking all of your spending, including discretionary spending such as retail purchases, eating out and subscriptions. Yes, it can feel nitpicky, especially if you're not use to having to watch your finances so closely. However, the insight you gain will help you, and your budget, in the long run.
There are several ways to track your spending easily including saving receipts, keeping a journal or logging your purchases in your phone. Also consider sitting down and looking at your bank statements on a weekly or monthly basis to make sure your tracking is up to date an accurate.
Understanding Your Financial Wants Vs. Needs
Did you want to keep the house? Are you able to afford the mortgage on your own? Are you able to afford the car note on one salary alone? Can I keep affording to live the same lifestyle? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself when creating your post-divorce budget.
One of the biggest challenges when newly divorced is adjusting to a different lifestyle, and wanting to keep the new car may not be in the budget when planning for essential expenses such as child support or groceries. Understanding the difference between your financial wants and financial needs is crucial when budgeting your essential and non-essential expenses and creating your own financial independence.
Create Your Budget
Based on the previous information acquired, such as spending, income and essential expenses, you are able to create a budget for yourself. A budget plays a crucial role in managing your finances post-divorce. By having a budget, you are better prepared to track your income and expenses as well as become financially independent. Also, having a budget offers the structure you need to start saving for any and all future financial needs.
There are several budgeting plans you can follow, a popular one being the 50/30/20 budget. In this budget, you spend roughly 50% of your after-tax dollars on necessities, no more than 30% on wants, and at least 20% on savings and debt repayment. Find a budgeting plan that works best for you based on your spending, income and expenses and stick to it.
Revise Your Budget When Necessary
Although you should stick to a budget, that doesn't mean it can never change. Your income, expenses and priorities will change over time so be sure to adjust your budget accordingly. Even if your budget changes, make sure you always have one.
While divorce is an unfortunate end to an important part of your life, it is also a chance for a new beginning. Looking at it from a positive perspective may make it easier to focus your attention on rebuilding financially after divorce, rather than mourning the changes in your financial situation. Looking for financial advice during or after your divorce? Do not hesitate to talk to our legal team if you run into any additional questions about budgeting for, and after, your divorce. We are here to help.