By Audrey Cade
Most people expect divorce to be a costly experience. In fact, many people delay the process because legal fees, the prospect of moving or re-establishing a new household, and living off just one income necessitate a lot of saving and planning. Have you ever imagined that divorce could actually make money for you? That’s right, divorce may reveal itself to be an unexpected source of financial benefit.
As with many things in life, an experience can be positive or negative depending on how you look at it. It’s very easy to adopt a “glass half empty” point of view when it comes to something as distasteful as divorce; but, for just a moment entertain the possibility of good things landing on your post-divorce doorstop.
Consider how your financial life might be affected in one of these five ways:
1. Time for an upgrade
One income is a lot more difficult to live on than two; so, if ever there was a time to consider making some changes in your career, this is it!
If you’re happy with where you currently work, consider talking to your supervisor about opportunities for advancement and see if you can develop a plan to increase your income and status within the company.
If you’re not living the dream, why not review your options and fully embrace the spirit of a divorce clean slate with steps toward what you really want to do, as well as a career that puts you in a better spot to support yourself and your family?
If ever there was a time to consider making some changes in your career, this is it!
When I divorced, I felt that my best way to secure the job I wanted and to build a solid future that could help me take care of my kids was to go back to school to get my master’s degree. As a single mom, I qualified for grants, and I found a really flexible online program that allowed me to complete my schoolwork after the kids went to bed or whenever most convenient for me. I’m very proud of that accomplishment, especially during such a difficult time in my life; but, it’s something I earned that can never be taken away from me.
2. Put your talents to work
Everyone’s good at something, so why not put some skills or talents that you possess to good use to help you make ends meet while feeling financially strapped?
Could you offer childcare? Are you good at baking? Are you a smarty pants? A friend of mine recently took up tutoring for a local college to help make some extra money. One of my co-workers who is good at sewing is the go-to gal if one of us needs their child’s baseball uniform hemmed, patches sewn on a scout’s sash, or buttons sewn back on a dress. Her expertise at something the rest of us don’t know how to do is her gain. Another friend has always been exceptional in the kitchen and started making birthday cakes, small wedding cakes, and holiday treats to pad her income and expand on her hobby.
I decided to turn my experience with divorce into a side career by writing for several magazines and websites. That extra money is really nice to have when holidays come around or an emergency occurs, like the new dryer I need to purchase this week. Maybe you have a wealth of knowledge about a specific subject and can turn what you know into cash!
3. Take out the trash
What’s lurking around your home that you either no longer need or that reminds you of the past with your ex? The fresh start you are receiving through divorce will seem all the more cleansing if it is allowed to extend to every aspect of your life.
Take a good look at your closet and honestly assess the last time you wore each piece. The golden rule is if you haven’t worn it in a year, it’s time to go! You may have a gold mine in clothing and accessories (don’t forget the kids’ closets!) that you can sell online, at a consignment shop, or have a garage sale.
Also take an inventory of furnishings, books, and other items around the house. If you have tools, collectibles, and generally more than you need of certain items, you may be pleasantly surprised by how much money you might (literally) be sitting on!
The fresh start you are receiving through divorce will seem all the more cleansing if it is allowed to extend to every aspect of your life.
And, if every time you look at certain items you are reminded of your wedding or your ex, you may do your emotional well-being and pocketbook a big favor by turning them into money, as well!
Don’t just take your wedding ring to the nearest pawn shop or local jeweler who may only be able to give you a fraction of its value. Instead, trust your valuables to a reputable service, like Worthy, that can properly assess the value of your pieces and get top dollar for them.
If having a paintball fight in your wedding gown or setting it on fire isn’t your style, you have options to sell it online and in some consignment shops. Several charities also take donations of wedding dresses to fund their various causes, which could at least give you a break on your taxes while helping others!
4. Less is more
One less person in your household will represent lower costs in many, sometimes unexpected, ways. Be sure to make necessary changes to various accounts and policies to reflect your change in household. For all others, sit back and watch the lower bills roll in for using less of everything!
- Check your insurance policies to be sure you don’t have more coverage than you need.
- Do you have money tied up in season tickets, subscriptions, frequent flyer miles that you can cash in or sell your share back to your ex?
- Do you have memberships based on how many people use the service, and can you change your status?
- Can you downsize your housing, vehicles, or other areas of your life?
- Can you (most likely yes!) purchase less food, cleaning supplies, and other household goods?
- Guess what? You will also no longer need to buy your ex birthday and holiday gifts!
- Can you cut your cable package down to eliminate channels you no longer want? (bye-bye fishing and golf channels!)
Consider having a financial advisor review your finances to make sure you are getting the most out of your investments, pension, and even the divorce! Don’t shortchange yourself out of potentially thousands of dollars because you don’t recognize what you’re entitled to.
By cutting corners in all these areas (and probably many more), you will free up funds to help you establish your new life or simply to do things for yourself that you need and want to do!
5. Cash in on your single status
Did you know that many discounts and benefits exist for singles? You can take advantage of many cruises and other vacation packages that are less expensive if you’re single!
Around the world, many countries have their own equivalent of Single’s Day, which was started in China and is celebrated each November 11th. The American versions of the holiday are Singles Awareness Day (celebrated February 15th) or National Unmarried and Single Americans Week (observed the first week of September). If the U.S. versions ever come close to how it is celebrated in China, you might expect a day of shopping that eclipses Black Friday. Even American shoppers can find amazing online coupons and deals to celebrate single status.
Make your money work for you, instead of just working for money.
Long after a marriage is over, a former partner may stake claim to Social Security spousal and survivor benefits based on their ex’s earning record. You must have been married at least ten years; but, what a nice way to help supplement your own retirement!
Take the time to familiarize yourself with all aspects of your monetary profile so that you can make informed choices and changes that may improve your standing. Don’t be afraid to do your research, compare costs, ask questions, and try new things. No question is a dumb question. What’s important is that you continue to grow in your financial wisdom and independence so that you can make your money work for you, instead of just working for money.
About the Author
Audrey Cade is the author of “Divorce Matters: help for hurting hearts and why divorce is sometimes the best decision” (on Amazon) and the matriarch of a blended family of eight. She is an experienced “divorce warrior” in the areas of co-parenting, step parenting, parental alienation, and re-marriage, and enjoys sharing these experiences with others who are also committed to raising happy and healthy kids. Audrey’s professional experience is as a case manager social worker with the developmentally disabled, families with young children, and homeless populations. She holds degrees in Early Childhood Education, Human Service & Management, and a Master’s in Psychology. She enjoys family outings, a variety of arts and crafts, cooking, gardening, and writing. She is a featured blogger for Divorced Moms, has work regularly appearing on Divorce Force, and articles appearing in Step Mom Magazine, The Good Men Project, and others.