Tips on Creating a Budget, Post-Divorce

Divorce can be mentally and emotionally trying. Unfortunately for many women, divorce also means suffering financially.

Half of all women married in the past 20 years will eventually divorce, and only 28 percent of those will get any kind of ongoing financial support from their ex. More than one-third of women who are awarded alimony or child support never see a cent of it.

So it's not surprising that the typical woman's standard of living dives dramatically in the first year after a divorce -- anywhere from 30 to 45 percent. At the same time, the average man's jumps by 10 to 15 percent. Bottom line: Failing to plan will cost you, big time.

The sooner you start planning, the easiser your transition into your new life.

What to Do Now

1. First off, separate your emotional state from your financial one. It's a waste of energy to let anger, bitterness and ill will toward your spouse fester. That will just sap your strength. You will have a life after divorce, but it's up to you to make that happen.

Deal with these feelings by finding someone to talk to like a friend or a support group. In addition, getting in touch with your spirituality, meditating and simply finding time to process what has happened will go a long way toward helping you move on to dealing with the issues that face you.

2. Get your divorce paperwork organized in a file drawer of some sort. Your final divorce decree and settlement papers, such as alimony and child-support agreements and any property sales you received in your settlement, should be all kept on one place.

Make several copies of your settlement papers. Put the originals in a safe deposit box and a copy in your divorce file at home, and make sure your lawyer has a copy as well.

3. Take control of your spending. You do this by figuring out just how much money you have to live on each month. Write down how much you make from all sources. Be realistic. Don't include overtime or alimony payments if you're not sure you'll be getting it.

4. Create a budget by writing down your expenses and find out where your money is going. Pull out your credit card bills and bank statements from past years as guides to your spending habits.

Then divide that into categories such as housing, entertainment and so forth. Entertainment bills are easy to trim; fixed costs such as utilities and housing are harder. For more advice on creating a budget that works, click here.

5. Remember that this is not a time to be careless with money or turn over all the decisions to someone else. It's your life. Your money. And your responsibility.

You don't have to live austerely. Indulge yourself with hot baths, long walks and plenty of exercise and sleep. But don't race out and buy a new car or splurge on a new wardrobe to cheer you up. You must hang onto your money right now, not spend it on superficial things that make you feel better for a fleeting moment.

Try these 10 affordable ways to pamper yourself when you need a lift.

Trade other tips with iVillagers on the Divorce message board.

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