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  • Writer's pictureMark Flowers

The Four-Step Divorce Financial Recovery Guide

Divorce is both emotionally traumatic and financially devastating. You are likely to lose around half of your assets. That’s everything you’ve been earning and saving during your marriage; not to mention you’ll also need somehow to navigate life with only your income. Breathe.

Life is going to change. Losing a partner and financial stability at the same time is a double blow, but you will survive. In fact, one day in the future, you will be thriving. If you initiated the divorce, then you already know in your heart that this was the right thing to do. The financial stuff may be eating your guts, but here are four steps to help you put yourself in the right mindset to start on the road to financial recovery.

Step One – Accept That Your Financial Life Is Going to Be Different

Once you were two. Now you are one. That is neither good nor bad. It is just a fact. How you perceive your circumstances will determine whether you feel empowered or as though you’re drowning in bitterness. Your perspective and your mindset are your primary tools in moving into the next phase of your life.

You must acknowledge and accept your new financial reality. That very likely means accepting that you will now have less money, which means you will have to live a more frugal life. Embrace your new life. Look at your finances as a challenge that you can overcome. This is an opportunity to cut out the things you don’t need and to embrace what’s truly valuable in your life, like the love and support of your family!

Step Two – Make Changes to Fit Your New Life

Now that you’ve accepted that your financial life will be different, it’s time to make changes so that you can regain financial security. We’re going to throw out the B-word – Budget. Make a list of your income and your expenses. If you go into the negative, it’s time to make some spending cuts.

Many women try to hold onto the life they were accustomed to before the divorce. They want to keep the house, even though they can’t afford the mortgage on a single salary. They keep going out to fancy brunches with their friends and want to keep the yearly overseas vacation.

Sorry, honey, but that life might not be possible, at least right now. Cut, cut, cut.

Let the house go and move into an apartment. Invite your friends over for brunch. Try a staycation. You owe it to yourself to stay out of debt instead of keeping up pretenses.

Step Three – Give It Time

Living with less money is hard. You may feel anxious about money or bitter that you’ve lost a comfortable life. You may miss the house and the vacation. These are all totally valid feelings, and it’s okay to feel them as long as you don’t dissolve into a puddle of regret and resentment.

Give yourself time to heal, both emotionally and financially. You may have spent all your savings on your divorce attorney. Acknowledge that you won’t replace that money in a day. It took you years to save it, so it will take a while to get it back. Embrace the process of slowly paying down your debt and building your savings back.

Step Four – Never Stop Building

You may feel as though getting divorced and losing your spouse’s income gives you an excuse to stop saving for your retirement or building a rainy-day fund.

Nope, we’re not letting you get away with that.

You may have less money, but if your budget and plan appropriately, you should still have enough left over to put at least a little away each month. Saving for a rainy-day fund is the equivalent of building yourself a financial safety net. This is even more important now that you don’t have your husband’s income to rely on.

Saving for retirement is investing in your future. Even if you can only put away a little each month, start small, and then grow your savings over time as your income increases or as you pay off your divorce expenses. Don’t let a financial setback give you the excuse not to be a financially savvy woman. Build your nest egg!

One of the best financial moves you can make during your divorce is to work with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst who can help you plan your post-divorce financial life. Even better, meet with one before your divorce at the next Second Saturday Divorce Workshop in your area!

This article is reprinted with permission from the Women's Institute for Financial Education (, creator of the Second Saturday Divorce Workshops. Founded in 1988, WIFE is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing financial education for women. Copyright 2019

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