If you’re a parent going through a divorce, learning to adapt to a new normal way of living can feel challenging and overwhelming at first. It takes your brain and body time to adjust to any major lifestyle change and when kids are thrown into the mix, this adds another layer of worry and complexity.
Financial management is one of the most important areas to consider when you are navigating a divorce and looking for ways to plan ahead in order to support your children throughout their lives is critical. By considering some of these financial preparations, you can reduce your stress about money management and spend more time being a present parent whenever you’re around your children.
- Negotiate Your Salary
As the head of your household, it’s important to make sure that the time and energy you spend working is worthwhile. It’s your responsibility to make sure that you can afford your lifestyle and pay for your children’s necessities. Now is the time to have an open and honest conversation with your employer to negotiate your salary, outline your expectations, and discuss your workload at your company in order to evaluate if this career can support the life you’re trying to create. Prepare notes prior to meeting with your employer and make a plan for the conversation. It’s worthwhile to express your dedication to your job while also explaining that you want to be as efficient as possible during your working hours. There might be some ways to compromise when it comes to your schedule, salary, working from home, and overtime pay.
- Eliminate Your Joint Debt
Hopefully, you have no withstanding debt from your past relationship, however, if you do, it’s critical that you make a plan to pay it off as soon as possible. It’s important to separate yourself from any joint accounts and credit cards that you may have shared with your ex-spouse. Deciding to split up payments can get messy and requires both you and your ex to pay on time. Instead of getting wrapped up in their financial situation as you work to create separate financial lives, go through your bills and decide which accounts need to be canceled and assign them to your name only. Additionally, you can set up a meeting with a financial advisor who can recommend payment plans to support your personal needs.
- Create a Budget
If you are working to pay off debt or feel as though you’re in good financial standing at this point, creating a budget is always helpful and can provide you with a sense of direction. Outline your non-negligible expenses as well as areas where you may spend excess money each week. This might include purchasing groceries, ordering take-out, children’s technology, activities, or personal care products. Most importantly, set up a budgeting system that works for your lifestyle and stick to it. The more in touch you are with your finances, the easier it will be to make decisions that support your future while allowing you to splurge on your children worry-free.
- Set Financial Goals
To support your budget and motivate yourself to stick to it, take some time to set specific financial goals. Start asking yourself important questions about how you will afford expenses surrounding your home, transportation, college tuition, vacations, and so on. It’s easier to stay on track when you have a reason to and creating goals will provide you with a clear picture in your mind of what you are working towards. Instead of going out to dinner a few times during the week, maybe cut back and tuck that money away for a trip with your kids. Find areas in your budget that you can save a little and set that aside or open up an account that you don’t withdraw from until you’ve reached your goal.
- Plan for the Unexpected
As you have probably experienced, life can be unpredictable and the path you take often looks different than what you originally pictured in your mind. Knowing this is true, it’s important to make a plan for the future in the case of something unexpected. This means having a financial plan should you fall ill or face a serious injury that prevents you from functioning in the way you need to as a single parent. In order to protect yourself and your children, explore life insurance options that can cover your financial needs during a difficult circumstance. Hopefully, you won’t need to rely on this anytime soon, but there are many ways that you will benefit from acquiring a life insurance policy earlier in your life—such as getting a better rate, protecting your loved ones, and feeling overall peace of mind.
- Set Boundaries
As a single parent, you might experience occasional guilt or feel obligated to make up for any confusion your children experience as their home environment might look different than you expected. Rather than fall into this negative or guilty mindset, have confidence in your ability to co-parent and focus on making the right decisions for your situation. It’s a good thing to set limits for your children at a young age and that means saying “no” sometimes. Establish healthy boundaries and stick to them, this way your children will understand right from wrong and learn to determine when it’s appropriate to ask for something.
Raising children requires time, energy, a plan and a way to cope when unexpected circumstances arise. At the end of the day, it’s important that you remain confident in your ability to put their future well-being ahead of their current wants—which simply means you have their best interests at heart. By creating a financial game plan, you create space in your life that allows you to enjoy the moments with your children that matter most, while supporting your family’s financial future.