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When Divorce Means a Loss of Income: 6 Ways to Cope


By Suzanne Cramer, Certified Credit Counselor

When you divorce your spouse, this unfortunately means you are divorcing their paycheck, as well. 


Preparing your finances now can help you get off to a good start and keep you financially fit as you begin a new chapter in your life. It is said that proper planning prevents poor performance; this is definitely true of your finances. So let’s take a look at a few things you should consider when taking on finances as a newly single person.

Related: Learning to Live with Less Money

1. Develop a plan. Having a plan will help you feel in control, develop new boundaries for yourself, and at the same time keep your finances in check. 

2. Downsize. The dreaded “D” word is not always a bad thing. Learning to live with less can help you to appreciate what you have even more. There are many benefits to living a simplistic life; less clutter, less stress, and most importantly here, fewer expenses!

Related: 5 Smart Financial Moves to Make After Divorce

3. Make Lifestyle Changes. You may have become accustomed to a lifestyle that included a big house, new cars every two years, and weekly dinners out. As a result of that “lost” paycheck, you are probably going to have to make some changes.

  • Start with your living arrangements. Evaluate your need to stay in the family home; the kids, amount of space, proximity to family, and affordability. Will you be able to afford the mortgage on your own? If the answer is no, consider other options: rent an apartment, stay with family, or get a roommate.
  • Keep the car if you can afford it, or trade it in for something less expensive that still suits your needs.

4. Develop a budget!  A budget can make or break your financial future. If you were not used to handling finances, now’s the time to learn. Know what you have coming in and what needs to go out.

  • Give up the luxuries…Starbucks, weekly manicures, and Friday night restaurant outings may have to go.
  • Save where you can; clip coupons, pack your lunch, and skip the mall for a while. 

Related: 3 Tips to Getting Your Finances in Order

5. Establish a Financial Presence. When you share your life with someone there is usually a partner who takes on the majority of the finances. Paying bills, opening lines of credit, and bank accounts may be foreign to you. In fact, many people find they don’t even know what they have (financially speaking) — this is dangerous!

  • Develop your own credit profile. Having no credit is just as bad as having bad credit. So if you don’t have any credit of your own, apply for some and manage it wisely!
  • Open your own bank accounts. If you have never balanced a checkbook there are many resources to help you learn how. Develop a bill paying system. If you have never paid bills before, this can be a daunting task.

6. Increase your income. Depending on your situation this may be a way for you to get ahead more quickly. By taking on a part-time job, freelancing, or moonlighting you may be able to re-introduce the little luxuries once you get back on your feet.

Going from two paychecks to one won’t be easy. But with some planning, sacrificing, and budgeting you can do this! If you have kids, include them in your plan. Ask for their input, teach them to save, and have them help with things you may have previously paid someone to do: baby-sit younger siblings, mow the grass, and clean the house. This will help them to feel empowered and in control of something as they go through the divorce, too.

Suzanne is a certified credit counselor and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne Debt Relief Services. Suzanne writes for Divorce, Debt and Finances and A Straight Talk on Debt. Follow Suzanne on Twitter @ADivorcedMom and @AskCareOne where she shares her insights on divorce and managing your finances.


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