A separation can be a very traumatic and chaotic event in a person's life. While there are a lot of tough decisions to make before, during, and after the separation, one area of your life that’s extremely important to take stock of is your new financial life—yes, new.
Relearning Money Management Skills
Being on your own again—especially if you’ve been partnered for a long time—brings a lot of new challenges. It also means learning new money management skills. (I know from firsthand experience.)
Following my separation, my life changed so much. But I quickly realized that if I was going to get through this, I had to be able to provide for myself. And while there were some tough years trying to adjust to this new way of thinking, I began to really value being the only one held accountable for my decisions and my actions. I was in charge of my own destiny!
Planning, Preparation, and Compromise
The most important thing for me was making sure I found a comfortable yet affordable place to live—and somewhere that wouldn’t be too much of an upheaval for my kids. Thankfully, I was able to do some planning in this regard prior to the separation, something I highly recommend if you’re able to.
Following that, my goal was to try to live the same lifestyle, but a less expensive version of it. That’s when putting pencil to paper and doing some budget planning for the week, month, and year ahead really come into play. By doing this, you will also have fewer frustrations down the road because you’ll already have an understanding of what your limitations are.
Once you have a clear picture of what your new budget looks like, it’s time to make some compromises. Your results may vary, but here are a few of tips on how to trim costs:
- Swap expensive brand-name items for less expensive store brands when shopping.
- Always make a shopping list and stick to it, or you’ll wind up buying things you don’t need.
- Cook home dinners instead of dining out or grabbing unhealthy fast food.
- Invite friends and family over rather than going out (who can hold a conversation at those clubs anyhow?)
- Attend free social events in the neighbourhood or community; this will also force you to get out there and meet new people (it’s also easier to invite people over and avoid going out when they live down the street!)
- Forget about buying brand new furniture and decor for your new digs; find gently-used items on these popular Canadian e-commerce sites.
- Instead of going to a movie theatre and purchasing snacks at expensive concessions, have home movie nights with microwave popcorn instead!
Finally, if you have kids like me, talk to them about compromise as well. It’s important they give things up too, so that you don’t always feel guilty about not giving in.
Want some more ideas on how you can cut more from your budget? Check out this free budget calculator.
Set Your Financial Goals
Facing your new reality and enjoying new ways of doing things will bring you satisfaction—it did for me! Start by making a list of your financial goals. When you’ve reached one of your milestones, you’ll be surprised at how good it feels to cross it off the list! Maybe your goal is simply to start an emergency fund, or maybe it’s weaning yourself off credit cards. Either way, creating new avenues of financial freedom while eliminating bad habits of the past is a definite win-win!
And don’t forget to treat yourself when you reach a goal—a matinee, a massage, a favourite restaurant. Now is the time to enjoy, free from guilt!
You are Not Alone
Try not to compare your separation or financial situation with anyone else’s—you and your needs are unique. So while it’s okay to seek advice from friends and family (and often they’ll give it even if you don’t want it), you might be better off seeking the professional guidance of a credit counsellor. They can review some money management techniques and help you determine the right plan of action, for free! If you need help, book a free credit counselling session by calling 1-800-267-2272.