Hey pal, guess what? You just got served divorce papers. There is no way to sugar coat it: your life is about to change. Everybody copes in their own way and there is tons of advice out there for you. It sucks, but you will get through it. What Dr. Phil or anybody else can’t prepare you for, though, is the financial burden you just suddenly picked up overnight. Gone are the days of two paychecks and welcome to checkbook roulette. The mortgage company doesn’t really care what is going on with you mentally — they just want their money!
Unless you are hobnobbing with Warren Buffett or have the last name of Walton, chances are you aren’t in the most secure place financially to begin with, and now you have to worry about keeping the lights on as well as taking care of your child and living expenses. I’ve been there and have the T-shirt to show for it. Today, though, let’s just focus on you, sir, and what tips and tricks there are to ensure you can make it financially through an already not-very-fun time of your life.
Here are some financial tips for the suddenly single man to consider.
Do: Sell off anything that isn’t bolted to the wall.
Don’t: Get on a first name basis with Jim at The Beer Depot.
Do: Downsize. You’re cooking for one now and it’s about survival. Hello, Ramen noodles and peanut butter.
Don’t: Get on the Christmas card list at the local pizzeria.
Do: Find a cheap/inexpensive hobby to pass the time to keep you sane. For me, it was blogging.
Don’t: You aren’t God’s gift to women; stay out of the clubs. Another woman should be the last thing on your mind for a while. If you need to go out, call up a friend and let them remind you that you’re broke.
Do: Sign up for every single supermarket/department store discount card/plan. However, do not use your primary email account if you value your time. Believe me, you are getting ready to have plenty of “you” time and deleting 15%-off coupons from a store for feminine hygiene products will get old after a while.
Don’t: Buy 25 jars of spaghetti sauce just because you saved $5. Five bucks can be a matter of gas money or walking to work.
Do: Lose the gym membership. It’s $30 a month — that might be the difference between having hot water or reliving your teenage years.
Don’t: Become inactive. Exercise is free even if you aren’t going to the gym now. Borrow “Rocky IV” from someone and fast-forward to the Russian training sessions. You don’t realize it yet but you are about to become a free agent in the game of life. Embrace it, but you have to work at it somewhat.
Do: Anything on the side for extra cash that’s legal. You are in the fight for your life right now; nothing is off the table.
Don’t: Suddenly look at a 10-year trend of Powerball numbers and think you are a new lottery wiz. I’ve tried this one first-hand and it doesn’t work.
Do: Before you attempt anything about your banking situation, run it by people whose life isn’t going 500 mph like yours currently is.
Don’t: Make an Internet-only bank your main bank account. Inevitably you will be in a spot where you need funds that are available immediately and not wait the 48-72 hours many require for a deposit to clear. Internet banking is a great thing if you have the extra cash. Right now though, you don’t!
Take my advice here and you will manage to save yourself a little bit of cash each week. You are going to need it, because next will likely come some incredibly bad luck and if you have any children and still want to be involved in their life, you are more than likely going to have to hire an attorney. Attorneys aren’t cheap. There is a reason they drive Lexuses while you are sweating if the tires on your 12-year-old pickup truck are going to get you through one more day. That is a topic for another time though.
This is today’s lesson for all you men who just found out the bad news. We have a lot more to cover in the coming weeks. Child support, relocating, dating and co-parenting, among other things, are going to squeeze the life out your finances. Before you can fight those battles, though, you need to make sure you are financially fit yourself! Welcome to divorce club. Now, it’s time to pull those boot laces a little tighter and get to work.
[Editor’s Note: You can monitor your financial goals (like building good credit) for free on Credit.com.]
This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.
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