Divorce is one of the most stressful experiences that a person can go through, financially and emotionally. There are so many decisions to make, and not enough time in the day or money in your bank account to do it all.
The hardest part of divorce is figuring out how you will pay for everything on your own. The good news is, there are ways to get back on track financially! In this post, I’ve outlined what you need to know about financial realities after separation and divorce – from credit card debt to retirement savings, here's how you'll be okay.
Budgeting is Key
When you get divorced, you have to be even more diligent about tracking your spending and sticking to a budget. There is simply no room for error when every penny counts. You may not want to budget, but budgeting is key.
Start by creating a budget that includes all of your monthly expenses, including debt payments, child care costs, and family activities. Be realistic about what you can afford and make adjustments as needed.
Be ruthless with unnecessary expenses and find ways to cut back on necessary ones. There is no room for extras right now. Those will come back later.
Create a Savings Plan
This may seem impossible at first, but if you can commit to setting aside $50 or $100 per month no matter what (yes, you may have to pick up a side hustle), you will be on your way to building a nice cushion for yourself. Don’t forget to factor in unexpected expenses such as car repairs or doctor bills.
We all know how kids playing can turn into a $100 emergency room co-pay. It’s important to have a fund set aside for the unexpected. Start saving as soon as possible to help ensure that you are not reliant on credit cards or family and friends.
It’s also important to remember that all of these steps should be taken in anticipation of your financial future – even if it feels far off, the time will come when you need money for retirement. It’s best to start planning now so that you can avoid having a crisis later down the road!
No one ever said that getting a divorce was easy. Just when you think you have everything under control, another expense pops up or a bill comes due. It can be very difficult to live within your means when your income has been reduced by half or more – especially if you don't get child support. However, it is absolutely essential to do so in order to maintain financial stability during this time of upheaval.
Consider Temporarily Scaling Back Your Lifestyle
Until things settle down this may mean eating out less, buying fewer clothes, and spending less time on leisure activities.
It also may be time to reevaluate your housing situation. Do your kids still need 3,000 square feet? Could you downsize to save on rent or mortgage payments? Downsizing can reduce some housing expenses such as electricity and heating costs.
If you work outside of the home, relocating closer to your job can also reduce the cost of gas from commuting back and forth.
The housing market is insane right now, so if you own a house you may consider taking on a roommate. If you're renting, you may want to contact your landlord about subletting. A roommate isn't a long-term solution, but it can help you stay afloat in the short-term, and help another mom out in the middle of a housing crisis.
Filing Taxes After Divorce
If you know that you are going to be going through a divorce, it is important to be aware what will happen when tax time comes around. The good news is, you have time to figure it out – but don't take too much time!
The first thing you will want to do is figure out your filing status. This can be done by looking at the IRS website or speaking with a tax professional. You may be able to file as head of household, single, or married filing separately.
The next step is to gather all of your documentation related to the divorce. This includes paperwork such as alimony payments, child support payments, and any other money that was transferred between spouses during the year.
During you divorce it should be communicated and documented who will claim the children on their taxes to avoid any unnecessary tax issues.
Once you have all of this information gathered, it is time to start filling out your tax forms. Hiring a tax professional during this time is an added expense, but could save you thousands of dollars down the road.
Now is the time to let the professionals get you started on the right path of being newly single.
Splitting Retirement After Divorce
When you get divorced, one of the biggest concerns can be what will happen to your retirement savings. If you've been married for a long time, chances are good that you and your spouse have pooled your money together into one account. But when you split up, who gets to keep the account? And how do you divide other assets like pensions and 401(k)s?
These are tough questions to answer, but with a little bit of planning, you can make sure that your retirement savings stay intact.
Each state is different, and each divorce is different. Do not try to handle this yourself; consult the best attorney you can afford to protect your financial investments.
If you have a pension plan, it's important to understand exactly how it works. Some plans allow for easy division between spouses, while others don't. Make sure you know the details of your plan so you can negotiate fairly.
If you have a 401(k), things get a little more complicated. In most cases, the account will be divided into two parts: the vested portion and the unvested portion.
The vested portion is the part that belongs to you, while the unvested portion belongs to your spouse. If you're not sure how to divide it up, talk to an accountant or financial planner for help.
When it comes to retirement savings, it's always best to think ahead. If you know that a divorce is looming in your future, start planning now for how you'll split those assets. This way, there won't be any surprises down the road.
Divorce is difficult. It takes a toll not only on your personal life, but also on the finances as well. With careful planning and budgeting, you can make it through this tough time in you and your children's lives.
You may want to consider scaling back–even if just for a few months until you get things sorted out financially again. Talk to an accountant about how filing taxes after divorce will affect you during this transition period and then create a savings plan that accounts for these changes and puts money aside each month so that you're protected against financial emergencies down the road when all of those bills start coming due once more!
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