Lauren, blogger at My Life, Incomplete, wrote a super series about Financial Freedom after divorce. It got me thinking about my own money matters over the past few years and I thought I’d share some of the choices I made, things I learned and advice I can offer others.
- House- I only lived in my house for 2 months before I left. In the months before moving in, Ex and I had the kitchen remodeled, we removed wallpaper and painted every wall, we had the ceilings textured, the hardwood floors refinished… we even hired an artist to hand paint a few borders and murals. After all that, I really didn’t want to leave. But I couldn’t afford the mortgage. I weighed the possibilities… I could live there and never ever eat. I could get a roommate and rent out the apartment above the garage…I could rent out a half the garage… but that would never be a guaranteed source of income. I was also driving quite a distance to work and spending a couple hundred dollars a month on gas. And I did not want Ex to give me any support money. I let him buy me out and I vacated. I bought a house half the size and much closer to my job. (I still probably spent a little too much. Luckily, I got a raise not long after I moved in.)
- Car- I loved my car. It had a supercharger! But again… not practical. It was bigger. It guzzled gas. When the treads wore thin, the tires would cost a lot to replace. It, too, had to go. I traded it for an uber-practical Saturn Ion… 4 doors, front wheel drive, no bells or whistles, gets me from Point A to Point B… it was a wise choice.
- Phone- After a few months, I axed my land line and went solely cellular. I don’t always hear the ringing, but it saves me a good bit of money.
- Cable- I got rid of that too and went internet-only. That was harder than it is now because back in 2006, there weren’t as many online TV options.
- Clothes and Stuff- I’ve become a big fan of the second-hand market. And I love it! I can buy a new brand-name wardrobe each season for the price I’d otherwise spend on one new garment. (The price factor is really nice when shopping for quickly growing children too.) And there’s a green aspect to the thrift-thing as well.
- Credit Cards- before Ex was my Ex, he paid off my credit card as a Valentine’s Day gift. After that, I began paying it off every month. I know it’s tempting to use the plastic to help in surmounting the financial hump of divorce… but what if I needed that line of credit? I decided to continue using the card for convenience only in case I needed it for an emergency.
Things I learned:
- It is possible to adjust to an existence on a fraction of the income one is accustomed to.
- Practical = less hassle
- Be thankful.
- Celebrate life. Not things.
- No more lattes. That’s an easy one, I know. And it’s hard, I know.
- Look for entertainment alternatives and opt for cheaper family activities.
- Learn about money. Seek the advice of a Divorce Financial planner or check your community listings for opportunities to learn more about budgeting, spending and saving. See if you can find any of these classes for your kids too- it’s never too early to learn good financial habits.
An outsider would say that my standard of living has decreased dramatically since the divorce. However, the increase in my quality of life makes it all worth it.
What did you learn? What are you learning? Where are you pinching pennies?