Most people tend to focus more on the emotional destabilization that often accompanies a divorce, separation or the decision to have a baby alone but it is important to realize that this can have a significant toll on finances as well, and should be prepared for as unfortunately, more women tend to fare far worse, economically, than men after a divorce. Some research shows that women’s economic standards fall almost twice as much as that generally experienced by men.
From my experience, there are real and very significant costs that come with the decision to end a marriage, finalize the divorce and establish (sometimes from scratch) a new household. Sadly, why the woman is usually the one who has to move out of the house (even when she pays most of the bills) is story for another day!
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to ensure that your finances are stable while you are adjusting mentally and emotionally to your new status. These are steps that I have used personally, and I believe will help you too.
-Determine your current financial status, plan to save and invest.
Usually moving forward after a divorce means establishing a completely separate financial life. As a result, you should close any joint bank or investment accounts that you and your ex may have together and make a list of your individual assets and debts. When you open your own accounts, be sure to set up a savings, money market, or investment account where you can begin building emergency funds and achieving other savings goals. I found the ARM money market fund very helpful as I used this to save/invest towards my daughter’s school fees. There are several money market funds available, find one that works for you and please invest.
-Set a New Budget
You must set up your new budget and it is okay if it looks substantially different from what it used to be during the marriage. In doing so, you should first determine your post-divorce income, needs and bare minimum expenditure. Even though quite rare here in Nigeria, you may be receiving some child-support and this should help improve your spending power. You must also determine how much you need to maintain the lifestyle you would like and see if the numbers work out. If they don’t work out, sister, take a few things off your list till you can conveniently afford them without going into debt. You may be able to significantly reduce your housing payment and utility bills by moving into a smaller apartment or house, sometimes even changing location or states. Once you have a budget that works, please try to stick to it as closely as possible!
-Avoid Crisis Spending
The period immediately following a divorce or separation can be an extremely difficult time emotionally. As women, it is very easy to get into comfort-spending behaviors for ourselves and our kids. For this reason, it is important to avoid making big financial decisions during this period. While it may be tempting to purchase that new car you have always wanted, that expensive bag, move to a new city, or take an expensive vacation, keep your kids in the high profile school they have been in, you should hold off on these and other large purchases until you are in a more emotionally and financially stable place.
One of the best ways to prevent yourself from engaging in crisis spending is to limit your purchases to things that are going to meet your basic needs – your food, shelter, clothing, and transportation.
-Find a job or get a side hustle
A lot of times, women tend to get sole custody of the kids and this may also mean taking full financial responsibility for their entire upkeep. Some of us are lucky to have physical or financial support from our families but you really don’t want to become a burden to anyone, so it is important that we either get jobs or start a side hustle in addition to our jobs to ensure that we earn enough to take care of ourselves and our kids.
In product or service, find something you have or can provide that other people may need. In doing this please ensure that it is flexible (consider time constraints in terms of having to cater for your kids), profitable, not fake, kid-friendly, great for single or stay-at-home mums and something you definitely enjoy or comes to you naturally.
I hope this helps!