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Tips for affording life after divorce

If there's anything that divorce has taught you, it's that life is unpredictable. You can't know what hurdles you'll have to clear in the future. Now is the time to buckle down and take control of your money.

For many people, divorce isn't just emotionally painful, but can also be a rude awakening to managing money. If you were not the one balancing the checkbook and paying the bills, it's going to take some effort to live your new life according to your income.

While divorce courts often stipulate support payments that benefit the stay-at-home parent, it's possible that down the road changes could be made to the decree. Though it may feel overwhelming, in truth there are some simple ways you can easily start to take control of your cash and plan ahead for all contingencies.

Creating a budget that works

Even if you don't have a financial consultant, sometimes just sitting down with a friend who has managed their own bank accounts will help you learn the basics of good money handling. Your budget should pay for a modest home, utilities, food, transportation, clothing and entertainment.

You must also include a plan for automatic savings that goes toward retirement, emergencies and large expenses. You are going to have to track all your expenditures for a few months to get a handle on where all the money goes. Your income should include support payments and any salary you might earn.

Building a plan for self-sufficiency

If you have not been in the workforce and will be initially receiving a significant divorce settlement, it is still a good idea to spend some time working on your ability to pay your own way--just in case your support is lowered in the future.

Explore taking classes or finishing your degree. You may want to take a part-time job that could lead to something full time later. Finding any employment now will help you find a more rewarding position, which can boost your self esteem and help you stay in a routine as you process all these life changes.

Making realistic choices

It's going to be tempting to take that vacation you've always dreamed of when the settlement comes through for the sale of marital property. Remind yourself that cash represents an investment that was made to support your family in the future. Right now it's important to stay focused on planning for the unknown.

The fact is, the income that supported your family in a single household is now paying for two homes. You may not be able to afford some of your more indulgent treats for a while. Making changes to your personal habits will help you avoid falling further into the debt that often comes with the divorce process.

It may help you to plan ahead while still in the divorce process by asking your family law attorney for a recommendation for a financial consultant experienced in assisting individuals that have suffered major life changing events.

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic

"I will hold you up until you can stand on your own two feet."

Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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