Financial recovery after divorce…

Divorce (in most cases) is a gut-wrenching experience in a myriad of ways.

Everything seems to take an eternity…

The paperwork is endless, distribution of personal property is an aggravation and the emotional toll it takes on adults and children can be troubling.

Add financial stressors to the mix and divorce can be downright overwhelming!

Why divorce is harder on women…

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According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office from a 2012 study, women’s household income fell by 41% with divorce.  That’s almost twice the decline that men experienced.

There are many reasons for this.

Women leave the workforce at different times throughout their lives to care for aging family members or children.

This, in turn, lowers their lifetime earnings – and their Social Security benefits once they reach retirement age.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2013 that – on average in 2012 – women made about 81% of the median earnings of male workers.  The pay gap has been slowly closing over time, but it is still there.

In addition, women have a tendency to take on more of the household chores such as cleaning or cooking, but the man in the household has historically undertaken the money management.

There are obviously exceptions to this, but not knowing the financial situation heading into a divorce can be an eye-opening experience.

How to get a fresh financial start after divorce…

It is important to sit down immediately and take a fresh look at your financial situation.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What types of income will I have?
  • What expenses will remain?  What expenses could be eliminated?
  • What are my plans for the next three months, six months or a year?
  • Will I be receiving spousal or child support?  If so, when will it end?

Having a good grip on your financial situation (and creating a new spending plan based on your income and expenses) will boost your confidence.

It will also prepare you for life after marriage and possible future relationships where money might become intermingled.

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Adjusting to one income can be difficult, so it is wise to ask yourself if you need to further your training or education.  Think long-term about your career and the steps you can take to make advancements if needed.

Can you (and are you willing to) take on side jobs to make ends meet?

If you are working in a job that you love already, consider asking for a pay raise. Just be sure to have a written history of why you deserve one!

Maybe you increased sales for the quarter, assisted a record number of clients or received several positive references from customers.

Keep notes of when you go “over and above” your employer’s expectations and use those experiences when you head to the manager’s office to ask for an increase!

Your dreams and goals may also change…  

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You might have expected to retire with two incomes and now you will only have one.

This is a good time to think about changing contributions to an employer retirement plan and increasing them if possible.

Vacations or larger purchases – such as a new car or a different home – may take longer.

Paying off debt might take a few extra months as well.  Be kind to yourself and allow for some wiggle room.

If you are going through a divorce, take a deep breath and remember that you are not alone!

And if you are one of the strong women who has already experienced financial difficulties through divorce and would like to contribute your story, please comment below!  Sharing is caring!

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