To say that your life changes after a divorce is a giant understatement. Co-parenting, your home, and finances are 3 of the biggest changes. Some would argue that finances should be near the top of the list of changes that are extremely difficult to overcome. You need money to take care of yourself and kids, right? Where does it come from now that you’re down to one income?

In today’s post, I’m going to give you a list of the ways I’ve found to raise kids on a single income. Let me tell you, it’s been a long road for me. Personally speaking, I was making not much more than $30,000 when I got divorced and I had to pay my ex $500/month in child support. When you do the math, after taxes and child support, I was at just under $20k to house, feed, clothe and transport myself and my daughters. I wasn’t on any government assistance, but was able to get by. Here’s how I did it. (I have to give some major credit to my incredible sister who is a brilliant household financial mastermind and who helped me get from the point above to where I am today.)

  1. Planning. If you are able to plan out meals in advance, you’re able to save money. Think about what happens when you run to the store after work to just pick up a few things for dinner. Do you walk out with just a few things for dinner or do you end up with dinner, dessert, breakfast for tomorrow, a snack for later, and some items that are just a good price? This is, by far, the number one way to save money for me. Planning also includes making (and sticking to) a budget! Pinterest is chalk-full of ideas.

  2. Shop at discount stores. We have an Aldi here. I buy everything other than meat at Aldi. Meat is purchased based on sales. We’re not huge meat eaters, either, so many times in a week, we don’t eat that. This helps the budget immensely.

  3. Buy used. I love our local Goodwills. This year, my daughters were able to get name brand winter coats (e.g. Columbia, Kenneth Cole, etc.) for under $50 for all of them. One of them even had the original tags on it. Besides Goodwill, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Letgo are some of the apps where you can find used, name brand material.

  4. Use the 48 hour rule. For every expensive item you want to purchase, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” After 48 hours, if the answer is yes, buy it! Waiting 48 hours to purchase expensive items prevents impulse buys and buyer’s remorse.

  5. Sell old items. Just like buying used, selling items can be another way to make new items more affordable. Do you have an old TV, but want to upgrade? If you sold your old TV, a new one would be a fraction of the price, right? Be safe about it, but use what you can (e.g. Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, Letgo, eBay, etc.)

  6. Do not use credit cards. Unless you have to. Sometimes you need to increase your credit score and credit cards are a way to do that. Outside of those situations, I’ve found that using credit cards makes it harder to stay in control of where you money goes and you’re always playing catch up from the month before.

Those are just some of what’s worked for me. I can honestly say this all from personal experience. Post-divorce, I finished my degree that I had started while married, went onto my Master’s Degree and moved into an entirely new career field. Being able to continually go back to these tips has made the transition seamless for my kids. Now that they’re older, I love watching them shop sales, clearance, and online deals to get the best price possible!

It’s not easy to get through the financial strain divorce creates, but it IS possible. Comment below with your tips for getting through difficult financial situations after your divorce (remember to be supportive).

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Kaern Becker, MA Life Coach