During the complexity and uncertainty of divorce, it’s understandable that to feel stressed about your finances. Financial pressures can feel overwhelming. Following are six ways to manage financial stress and take control as you plan for the next chapter of your life.
1. Prioritize what you can control
Some things are out of your control. Dwelling on things you cannot control is likely to cause you even more stress, with frustration with your inability to change some circumstances. When things are stressful, it can be tempting to avoid thinking about them.
Instead, focus on things you can control, so you can improve your situation. For example, consider something simple like your food budget. Look for ways to shave a few dollars off your grocery bill, or try not eating out as often. You’ll not only save money, but the feeling of accomplishment may help reduce your stress.
2. Find ways to earn more money
You can only cut a budget so far, and sometimes penny-pinching can be a source of additional stress. Another way to ease some financial tension is to take steps to increase your income.
It may seem difficult to increase your income in the current economic environment, but it isn’t out of the question. The simplest way to earn more income is to work a few extra hours each week if your employer will allow it.
If increasing your hours isn’t an option, look for other ways to earn money. Some unconventional ways to earn money are available now, as a side hustle. For example, families with children who are schooling at home may find they have less time to take care of normal household chores than they did before. Many are willing to pay someone to do a grocery pick up, mow the lawn, help children with online assignments, or provide support while they attend school virtually.
3. Pay essential bills
If you are worried about being able to pay all your bills, prioritize paying essential bills first. Sorting through your bills and prioritizing them serves two purposes:
- As a budgeting exercise, prioritizing guides you to deliberately think through what you spend your money on. You may find that some bills can be eliminated.
- By knowing beforehand which bills you will pay first, you won’t have to scramble to decide if you do find yourself in a bind later.
Both of these outcomes will help reduce your financial anxiety, and hopefully, allow you to sleep better.
Ideally, your residence costs – including rent, utilities, internet, cable, or any other housing related costs – should be 50% or less of your total monthly income.
4. Save money (if you can)
Try to stick to a consistent savings plan. If you don’t follow a plan already, try to implement one, even if it starts small.
Having a savings plan that you follow puts you in charge of one more thing in your life. Saving money will give you a sense of accomplishment and will reduce your anxiety. Having money set aside for use later will also relieve some stress.
If you want to keep your money accessible but don’t want it to be idle, consider putting it into a high-yield savings account. High-yield savings accounts pay higher rates than typical savings accounts and make great vehicles for emergency funds. If you want to contribute a certain amount to your savings each month, set up an automatic transfer from your checking account.
You won’t really know if you’re making progress if you don’t intentionally pay attention to your finances. Make sure you know where you stand. Tracking your progress lets you know whether the actions you are taking are moving the needle.
It also helps to know your progress because when you achieve financial goals, like paying off debt, the positive psychological effects can lift your mood and health. If you aren’t tracking your financial goals, you may not realize how much progress you’re actually making.
“Debt can be both a financial and mental burden. Before you let debt and the stress it causes overwhelm you, talk with your lenders. Be honest about your position in divorce.”– Leah Hill | Founder and CEO – Divorce Strategies NW
6. Talk with professionals
The uncertainty of financial stress can be eased by talking with financial professionals about the emotional topic of money. Debt can be both a financial and mental burden. Before you let debt and the stress it causes overwhelm you, talk with your lenders. Be honest about your position in divorce. Lenders are often open to discussing your situation and working out a solution. Many banks have temporary repayment freezes or non-reporting to credit bureaus of missed payments, if requested by customers experiencing challenging personal situations.
Financial uncertainty is stressful, but there are many small actions you can take to help this pressure not control your life and your perspective. Don’t try to do too much and overwhelm yourself. Focus on a few things you can do to take control and make improvements, even if they are small. With each positive action, you’ll be in a better financial position and feel more confident and in control, as the next chapter of your life unfolds.
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Whether you’re contemplating a divorce, have already started the process, or are far into the proceedings, do you wish you had someone to share with you the inside scoop on how to save money, time, and emotional energy on your divorce?
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