Number 3 in the “Truths About Divorce” Series…
Monetary stress often leads to marital issues which can end in divorce. Ironically, divorce exacerbates financial issues, so we need to consider how to handle our new fiscal realities. As I began to plan for life as a single parent, I realized my mental calculations for the cost of two separate homes were off –by a lot. I thought, “We spend X on our mortgage, divide by two and voila- housing cost!” Wrong. Though we split the furniture and household items, we each needed more to fully equip our respective residences. Ditto electricity, heating, internet, cable and other utilities. Food, cleaning products and other day to day expenses? Double them.
If it costs more to be divorced, what can you do to prepare?
1.Realistically assess your current family budget
2.Itemize children’s expenses
3.Prepare a budget for your new, individual life
The last point was the hardest for me to avoid. So desperate was I to help the kids transition into this new, more difficult life, I rented the largest house I could afford, kept my housekeeper (who doubled as a babysitter) and continued to provide many of the “goodies” my kids came to expect. I did this by swiftly spending my half of the proceeds from selling our home. I was barely earning any income at the time and collecting neither alimony nor child support. My largess lasted about 18 months. I descended into credit card debt and ultimately had to drastically reduce our lifestyle. While it’s heartbreaking to say no to your children when they want things, it’s far more important to be able to provide the things they actually need.
“Remember when we could buy whatever we wanted at the mall?” My daughter once asked wistfully. Yes, I do. It pains me still sometimes. But 10 years later, we are living well enough to enjoy ourselves while appreciating everything we have earned through hard work and creative financing.