The day you and your spouse agree to get divorced, and especially when the divorce is final, your financial future will change. Sometimes it will change for the better, and sometimes you’ll have to make cuts, budgetary restraints or downsize. No matter your economic gain or loss, budgeting should be, if it weren’t already, in your immediate future.

For those of all income levels, a clear budget can mean the difference between thriving and floundering. The first step to completing a post-divorce budget that matches your unique situation is to list all income sources, including child support or alimony. If you pay child support or alimony, remember to subtract that.

Second, list out any reoccurring and fluctuating expenses to identify where you can cut costs and which expenses are absolutely necessary. If the cost fluctuates, like home utility payments, find the average value and list them on the high end. This strategy could offer you some financial leeway come specific months where your utility bill is lower than your budget states. When determining where to trim costs, consider the following expenses:

  • Home size (is downsizing a possibility?)
  • Vehicle expenses (Is public transportation or a cheaper vehicle an option?)
  • Insurance expenses
  • Smartphone plan 
  • Groceries
  • Streaming and other entertainment services (Internet/cable)
  • Limiting travel
  • 21st-century benefits (Amazon Prime, fancy and expensive coffee, food delivery, etc.)
  • Shopping costs
  • Gym membership
  • All subscriptions

Yes, staying sane is also important, but to provide yourself some semblance of financial relief and freedom, costs will need trimming. 

What’s the silver lining?

You don’t have to live with these budget restrictions for the rest of your life. More than likely, you will have to cut ties with some unnecessary necessities, like unlimited texting, your Amazon Prime membership, Netflix, or your daily Starbucks latte. Still, in the long run, you may decide that you can live without these life add-ons.

Once you’ve waded the post-divorce waters for a while, and have decided you need to revive some old budget cuts or a life occurrence leads to a budget modification (promotions, the birth of a child, new home), you have the expertise needed to adjust your budget accordingly. You never know, those fancy coffees might just be in your future again sooner rather than later.