How to Create a Budget After Divorce

Creating a budget after divorce is absolutely critical. Things have probably changed for you financially now that you’re separated. You may have to make some lifestyle changes in order to stick to a healthy budget. To set your budget, you first need to figure out exactly how much money is coming in. Next, calculate how much your essentials cost. Then calculate any discretionary spending and figure out how much of it you can cut out. And finally, track everything you pay for so you know whether or not you’ve stuck to your goal. Hopefully, by creating a budget, you’ll be able to adjust more easily to your new life and create a savings cushion.

How to Create a Budget After Divorce: Make a Plan and Stick to It

Figure Out Money Coming In

Creating a budget after divorce starts with calculating exactly how much money is coming in. This doesn’t mean your salary. This means your salary minus anything that gets taken out of it. For example, take into account taxes, social security, and 401k deductions. If you are receiving or paying out alimony or child support, include this. Your overall income might be very different now that you are calculating it without your spouse’s additional earnings. You need to know exactly how much money you have to work with at the end of the day.

Calculate Essentials

Next, when creating a budget after divorce, figure out your absolute essentials. You’ll want to know exactly how much money each month you need to survive. These include things like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, health insurance, and groceries. In addition, you may consider a car payment or internet access to work from home as essential needs. Don’t forget essentials for your children like daycare payments.

Calculate Discretionary Spending

Anything that isn’t essential is considered discretionary spending. This is where you can make lifestyle changes and possibly cut your spending if you’re trying to budget after divorce. Some of these things might feel a bit more essential than others. For example, maybe you could give up eating at restaurants several nights a week, but you really don’t think you could give up Netflix. Decide which things are necessary for you to really enjoy life and which things you might be able to reduce or cut out entirely. For example, perhaps you could subscribe to Netflix and Hulu and cut out your cable bill. Or find a car with a smaller monthly payment.

Track Your Spending

Finally, trying to stick to a budget after divorce means you have to track your spending. Otherwise, you won’t know whether or not you’ve actually stuck to your spending goals. Every time you spend money on anything, write it down. There are apps on your phone for this, like Mint, that will help you track your spending. They can give you some idea of how much you’re spending on things that really aren’t essential.

Creating a budget after divorce is important since your financial habits might need to change. It’s difficult to make the transition from two budgets to just one, but a budget will help. Figure out exactly how much money is coming in at the end of the day. Then figure out what your essentials are each month. Next, calculate how much you’d like to spend on discretionary things. And finally, track everything you spend money on so you know if you’re sticking to your goals. Budgeting is an important life skill and one that might serve you well in your new single life, and if you meet another partner down the road. Sticking to a budget might allow you to build up savings for things like home improvements, travel, and emergencies.