Chris M. – Debt and Life after divorce
Like many others, Chris discovered that life after divorce was difficult in more ways than one. As of 2018, there were 2.64M divorced people in the country. Post divorce living can be a jarring experience for many who once shared financial responsibilities with a partner. Many times, a newly single person understandably doesn’t want to start dating or even think about taking on new endeavours before taking time to heal.
One or both parties may have to find ways to acclimate or recover from:
- Emotional distress
- New expenses
- Changing jobs
- Shared custody of children
Some people feel isolation, depression, fear, anxiety and general helplessness. If being in debt isn’t enough, dealing with a life-changing event like a divorce only adds to one’s bewilderment. While a divorce can come with some really hard days, there are many silver linings to consider and look forward to. See how Chris M. navigated debt and life after divorce.
Divorce changed the financial landscape
After a separation and a divorce that resulted in my children living with me and having to move, I found my family income cut in half and my expenses doubled. I used a credit card to supplement the shortfalls in hopes that I would catch up later. Like most others who had the same plan, I couldn’t.
Digging a hole
I spent about a year relying on credit cards. I saw fairly quickly that I was digging a hole that I just couldn’t climb out of. Even though I wasn’t spending frivolously, I was still losing ground.
Cutting down on spending
I had to eliminate a lot of things in my life, like cable TV and my home phone. I used a cell phone provided by my job, and my kids used Skype to reach me at work. My children’s grandparents helped out with school lunches.
Time to turn things around
I was up to $10,000 in debt, $6,000 of which was credit card debt. It wasn’t a huge amount, but I didn’t see any way of keeping it from growing larger. I did a Google search and found Consolidated Credit.
Being treated with respect
I valued my interaction with the Consolidated Credit staff. I went from being treated like I was a bad person by creditors to being treated with respect. The people at Consolidated Credit told me that anyone could go through a bad time resulting in my situation. They were very understanding.
Counselling had great results
I have a new car and a mortgage now. My credit rating has gone from 600 to the high 700s. I’m not afraid of answering the phone anymore, and I’m currently planning a holiday! I learned that I have to deal with debt problems immediately. I didn’t spend unnecessarily, but I often brushed the issue under the rug, hoping it would just go away. But of course, it didn’t!
Even though my debt may have seemed small compared to others, the solution is the same – don’t wait until tomorrow, take action today!
Preparing for Life After Divorce
If you’re planning a divorce, there are some things you can do to help protect your credit and finances. See below for a few valuable tactics to consider when going through a divorce or separation.
Make a budget. It doesn’t mean it’s set in stone, because you may have to adjust it as you learn new information or take on more financial responsibility. Work on it regularly through your divorce agreement and beyond. A budget is a living, breathing tool you can revise to accommodate your needs and help you manage your money.
This may not seem like a viable option for many new divorcees scraping by. However, building the habit, no matter how small the contribution, is key here. Pay yourself first. Start an emergency fund to address any unforeseen expenses.
Take on extra work
There are a variety of part-time or freelance jobs you can take on to help. Even if you only plan to do extra work during certain seasons or for a temporary timeframe, the income can substantially offset debt or help with savings. If you don’t have a lot of time, there are some remote jobs you can do in your spare time, including nights, weekends, and early mornings.
Ask for help
Much like Chris, you may need help. Ask your parents and close friends for help when you need it. They may be able to watch the kids one while you work nights, make lunches, or pick them up from school. Whatever it is, don’t be scared to seek support from the people closest to.
If you have steady income, one of the best things you can do is automate. First, set up direct deposit with your job. Afterward set up automatic payments for your recurring expenses and savings. Make sure you put aside money for “fun” spending. Otherwise, you cut into your essential cost funds. Try to create different accounts for different savings goals and expenses.
You may have no choice in this area. If you had to move out and are taking on bills you didn’t have before, make the most out of what you can afford.
The following are expenses you may have to cut out:
- Cable and internet
- Home phone
- Vehicle expenses
- Gym membership
- Entertainment subscriptions (Spotify, Hulu, Netflix, etc.)
Avoid using credit
This can be difficult when there are no other funds to lean on. That’s why it’s so crucial to build you emergency fund and savings account, as well as earn extra income.
Speak to a Trained Credit Counsellor Today
If you’re going through a divorce, your financial health is just as important as your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Speak to a trained credit counsellor who can assess your situation and help guide you. If you are deep enough in debt, you may qualify for any number of repayment programs.