7 Tips for a Single Mom Trying to Get By Financially After Divorce

by Rebecca Stuck
Single Mom Trying to Get By Financially After Divorce photo

Divorce can be financially devastating, especially when kids are involved. If you are a single mom trying to get by financially after divorce, these tips can help.

I became a single mother 5 years ago when I chose to leave an abusive marriage.

We had our share of problems including our different opinions about money. My ex was a compulsive spender and was usually at any given time half a year’s income in debt.

I, on the other hand, have always been a saver. I do not know if this was a learned behavior. My mother required me to save 10% of my allowance and later my income and tithe another 10%. On my own, these numbers have increased to 30/10. I live off of 60% of my income. This is not easy, but it is doable.

Here are the steps I recommend taking if you are a single mom trying to get by financially after divorce:

1. Set up a budget.

If nothing else, track your expenditures. I have a ball park figure that I try and stay under. I use Quicken to track my money. (We recommend this easy-to-use budget worksheet from SimplePlanning.com.)

2. Take a cold hard look and make a list of all the non-necessities that you buy.

Go back and number them in order of importance. Eliminate (or reduce) the least important ones.

Remember a penny saved is more than a penny earned due to taxes.

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3. Pay down debt.

Figure out what you are paying the highest interest on and work on that first. (See Paying Down Credit Card Debt Faster.)

Remember, there is a big difference between simple interest and compound interest. This can cost you big money if you don’t know the difference.

4. Start saving.

I invest in several different vehicles and methods. It makes you feel good to see a result from your efforts.

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Get the interest you deserve. Compare CD rates with this anonymous tool from a Dollar Stretcher trusted partner.

5. Raise your income earning potential.

There comes a point when you simply cannot cut back any more.

I only earn $18,000 a year and live in an expensive part of the country. I know for a fact that I qualify for food stamps, but I feel comfortable without them. (If you are in need, take them. That’s what they are there for and there is no shame in it!)

I continue my education and own a small business that I run from my home that I do not draw an income off of yet. I hope to work it full time before my son enters grade school.  (See Side Gigs That Can Make You Extra Cash.)

6. Take full use of any and all benefits your employer offers you.

I use direct deposit and almost never carry cash. I use both medical and daycare reimbursement accounts, which uses pre-tax dollars from my paycheck.

I contribute to my 401k and put the max of 15% of my income in it. I also have an IRA to which I contribute the maximum each year. Because my income is so low, this is fully deductible off my taxes.

I also have money directly deposited into my emergency fund that is for serious emergencies and once-a-year payments.

Build an Emergency Fund

With these simple tips and tools, you can build an emergency fund, even while living paycheck to paycheck.

7. Be creative.

For instance, does someone in your home have a hobby? Try turning it into a part-time business. If you create a profit motive (keep very tight records on this and consult your accountant), you can write off a lot of your costs and earn some extra money too.

Reviewed May 2021

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