If you’ve gone through a relationship breakdown or partner’s death, your financial situation is going to change, and probably drastically for the worse. Especially if your significant other brought in the bulk of the household income. More than likely you were unemployed or underemployed during the time you were together.
There is no way you can survive on what meager income you bring in.
For the sake of this article, we’re going to assume you’re newly single due to relationship breakdown. Though much of the advice will help you if you’re newly widowed.
You’ve got a lot of things going on during this transition. It’s hard to think about and remember everything you need to do. This post will help you through some things that you might not have thought about. Grab a pen and paper and make a list of all the stuff you need to do to wipe his existence out of your life and move forward with yours.
Some women do OK after divorce/being widowed and others really struggle. A lot of that has to do with lack of income and the responsibility of caretaking duties (children, parents, animals).
How are you feeling when you’re unexpectedly single? Whether it’s the first week, a month later, or after a year?
- I want to be happy again.
- I want my life to be easier.
- I don’t want to worry so much about surviving.
- I want to rely on myself.
- I don’t want to be scared of the future.
- I don’t want to be in an unhealthy relationship.
- I want to feel more in charge of my future and feel less anxious about it.
Do you have anything you can add to that list?
When we’re newly single, we want to be self-sufficient and not worrying how we’re going to make it through the day, the month, the year, and the rest of our lives.
When he leaves, so does his income.
Or, if you were the one who left, you also left behind his income and financial contribution to the household.
Starting over on no or low income is terrifying.
Accept your new reality as fast as possible and make a plan.
You are now responsible for supporting your household, whether that’s just you, your children, or pets. It’s all on you now. Don’t rely on support payments. I don’t call my ex the deadbeat for nothing.
You’ve got to figure it out and not plan on any money coming in besides what you’re earning.
Let’s start with where you’re living because this will be your biggest expense.
The house you shared together, whether it was owned or rented, something must be done with it. Either you keep living there, he keeps living there, or it gets sold and you both move.
Let me just throw it out there to you women who are newly single. Unless you absolutely love this house and have enough income to cover the costs – MOVE! Being suddenly single is a big enough struggle without dealing with the bad memories of a formerly shared house.
Besides, many ladies reading this blog aren’t making significantly more money than their partners. Chances are you can’t afford the place on your own anyway. Look for a cheaper place to live or move in with family if you can.
Have you looked around at the cost of rentals in your city? In the Greater Vancouver Area they’re horrendous. Finding a decent, affordable place to live that’s not a dump is a real challenge.
A few years before my father passed away, he did something stupid. He bought another RV. And almost just as soon, decided to sell it. Well, he did take a couple of trips in it first. He asked me if I wanted it, and I said no because I’ve never been much of a camper.
It was sold.
A year and a half later, when I became single with all the costs of running a household staring me down, that was the only time I really regretted not keeping the RV. If I’d agreed to transfer it into my name, it could have been my new home, at least for the short term. I’d have put everything in the house into a storage unit and just lived in the RV with the dogs. I could park that sucker anywhere. At the farm where I keep my horses. In the Walmart parking lot. It would have been a place to live until I found a job and a cheaper place to live than the house I was living in.
You know how they say if you could go back in time, what would you change? Not selling that RV would be on my list.
I’d probably still be living in it!
If you’re the type of person who can live a minimalist lifestyle, getting an RV might be something to consider. There’s a community of RVers who live in a part of Vancouver because they can’t afford to rent or buy.
If you’re staying in the former marital home, even for only a short-term basis, check who’s name the utilities are in. He might shut off everything in his name that he’s obligated to pay, leaving you in the dark. Get the utilities into your name.
Likewise, if you’re moving out, close down any utilities that are in your name.
Paying the bills
Look around the house and gather up all the bills. Pay everything that’s due within the next few days if you can. You don’t want to be worrying about it in a couple of weeks trying to remember if the bill was paid or how you’re going find money to pay it.
If you can’t pay the bill, call the company it’s owed to. Explain your suddenly single situation and ask for more time or set up a payment plan.
It’s better for you to call them first instead of having their collections department phone you when the bill is past due.
Get rid of any joint accounts now! Whether it’s a bank account, credit card, the lease, whatever both your names are on, get his name (or yours) off those accounts.
He can really screw you up. Do you ever watch Judge Judy? That show lives for this stuff!
He can drain the joint bank account and overdraw it. It’s bad enough if he stole money that should at least be partly yours, but stealing money you don’t have is equally bad because you’ll be libel for repaying it especially if he’s pulled a disappearing act and is unable/unwilling to repay the overdraft.
He can go on a shopping spree on those joint credit cards and max them out. You don’t need any more debt, especially if you didn’t cause the debt or benefited from the purchases.
If both your names are on the lease and you move out of the house and he stays and doesn’t pay the rent, guess who the landlord is going to sue to recover lost revenue? Both of you, but if he’s financially irresponsible and doesn’t care about screwing up his credit report, it’s going to land on you.
If you took out a car loan in both your names and he took the car and doesn’t make payments, whoever financed the loan is coming after you, too.
Anyway, you get the picture. Get your name off any joint accounts before more damage is done. You don’t need any reminders of him.
Open up your own bank account
You need to open a bank account in your name only. If you don’t want trouble to follow you, like a joint account that’s he’s screwing up, find a new bank or credit union.
It’s important to find a financial institution that doesn’t charge you a fee to keep your money in their bank. You need to save money wherever you can now that you’re newly single.
Was your ex joint on a safety deposit box? Hopefully you don’t have your family jewels in there if you find his key to the box left with him. Get everything out of your safety deposit box and open up a new one in your name only.
Hopefully he doesn’t take your cell phone! That’s a lifeline for so many people.
Is your cell phone in your name? What about his cell phone? Is there a family plan that you got both cell phones under? Whose name is it in?
Get that cell phone issue straightened out ASAP. That’s another common topic on Judy Judy every week. Relationship break downs and unpaid cell phone bills or stolen phones.
Let me sum it up. Judge Judy doesn’t care about cell phones and the $800 bill your ex racked up. You’re stuck with it.
I don’t know about you but I rarely got calls on my land line. My father used to call me every day, and that’s something I really miss.
Most of the calls were telemarketers. No, I don’t want my carpets cleaned!
I also got a lot of scammers calling. You know the ones. They’re sitting in a call center in another country and want my credit card number to pay an old tax bill or I’m going to be arrested.
After the deadbeat left, I got a lot of collection calls looking for him. Rather than getting into any lengthy discussion about a relationship break down, I just told them “wrong number” and hung up.
Most of the dumb asses didn’t seem to understand what “wrong number” means and kept calling. I kept a whistle by the back door to call in my dogs. It also became useful on collection agents who kept calling even after being told he’s not at this number. Blasted out a few ear drums!
Anyway, I kept that land line longer than I should have, mostly because of the alarm system that went through the phone lines.
Do yourself a favor and learn from my mistakes. Disconnect it and save yourself a couple of hundred dollars a year once you’ve ditched that phone bill.
You can live on your cell phone only.
If you have a security system, change the code. You don’t need your ex showing up while you’re at work to take stuff.
Change the locks.
Even if it’s just short term. He left and you’re moving out in a month. Don’t take the chance that he’ll come back while you’re out, looking for more things to furnish his new place.
Does your ex know your passwords to anything? Your online banking? Pay Pal? Amazon? eBay? Your Yahoo account? Utilities? Email?
Change them! Now!
Before he does!
For the time being write down your new passwords on a piece of paper, a notebook, or an address book.
It goes without saying that if you have any favorite passwords you like to use, or that the two of you used together – never use them as passwords again.
A couple of things about life insurance.
First you want to remove him as the beneficiary. If you don’t have kids or can’t think of anyone else, make your estate your beneficiary. Your insurance company can help you with that documentation.
You can always change your beneficiary if you get into another relationship or think of someone you’d like to receive your life insurance money if you pass away.
The other thing with life insurance is that the monthly premium is probably being auto deducted from your bank account.
You just changed your bank account, didn’t you? The life insurance company is going to need your new banking details. You miss a payment, your coverage will lapse, maybe even cancel.
Do you even need life insurance any more? If not, and you’re not in a locked in policy, cancel it and stop wasting money on it.
Remove him as beneficiary
Update everything where you named your ex a beneficiary such as your will and financial products.
Again, if there’s no one that comes to mind as a beneficiary, you can name your estate. The estate can be temporary until you decide who you want as a beneficiary.
Change your will, and if you don’t have children, leave your money to a charity or two.
I thought I’d removed my ex from everything, but it turns out I had one financial product he was still named beneficiary on. It took me two years to think about double checking that one. Not a whole lot of money, but why should he get a windfall if I die?
Write down your expenses and see what you can cut back on and cut out. You have fixed monthly expenses such as rent, cable, and phone bill, and other expenses that might fluctuate such as the electric and water bill. You have more control over expenses like food, clothes, and entertainment.
It’s time to look at cutting back on groceries, eating out, phone plan, cable, gym memberships, subscriptions, insurance, and high priced hair cuts.
My entertainment budget had to be overhauled. We had date night every Friday night and went out to eat. Could have been as simple as Subway or a nicer dining experience costing $50 or more. That’s out the window now! My entertainment budget is non-existent! Ha ha!
I allot myself $20/month for eating out. Oh, you know, I still have a Subway budget. Many months I don’t eat out at all, so if I happen to go over $20 one month, I don’t beat myself up about it.
Very occasionally I’ll go see a movie. I don’t mind watching movies alone, it’s just I’m more about finding free sources of entertainment. Movies are an occasional treat. The last time I went to a movie was last May for a sneak preview of the Elton John movie – Rocketman. I’d won two tickets plus popcorn and pop. I enjoyed the night out with a friend. For free!
I go to Great Clips for my hair cuts. Even if I made more money, I’d still go to Great Clips! A hair cut costs around $20. Sometimes I get a coupon in the mail or Great Clips will have a sale and I’ll try to get it on the deal
Figure out how to increase your income
Focus on finding a job or making more money
Any extra income helps reduce money stress.
Here’s an article for suggestions: https://www.themoneyfox.com/list-100-money-making-side-hustle-business-ideas/
I also recommend checking out The Penny Hoarder for articles on how to save money, how to make money, and budgeting tips.
What’s your financial plan? Write down something simple, just to get started.
Here’s what I wrote: I want to make enough money to support myself and my animals.
Simple enough, right? If I looked at it enough times, that was my motivation.
If I’d been thinking about it more at the time, I would have added “I need to become debt free and I want to live somewhere else.”
Adding something about a good paying job couldn’t hurt either.
It might be time to develop a financial plan. Make it longer term for five years or ten years. You can read books, look at online articles, watch YouTube seminars, or even start with the financial advisor at your credit union who might have some ideas for you. Don’t act on any ideas the advisor suggests such as buying mutual funds. Worse case scenario, speak with an expert who charges by the hour instead of works on commission like that credit union’s financial advisor.
Personally, my financial situation improved after the deadbeat and I split up. I no longer have debt or living with a person who can’t stop acquiring debt. I got over him financially as quick as I could.
What about your personal information? Are you changing your last name back to what it was before? This means updating your driver’s license, passport, the name you file your taxes under, banking information, insurance, and so much more.
Keep an eye on your credit report. The deadbeat had access to my social insurance number and tax information. It was in a filing cabinet or my wallet where he could have written the numbers down before we ended our relationship. He could have opened up phony accounts and caused me more financial distress. When I pulled a credit report, he hadn’t done anything to affect it, but I found out Home Depot was dicking me around.
Quit dreaming about money that is never going to come rolling in. The deadbeat is suddenly going to start paying support. You win the lottery. You get a huge promotion at work. An inheritance from an unknown aunt appears. Yeah it’ll be great if any of those things happen, but don’t count on it.
Try to live a more frugal lifestyle instead. Look for free items on Craigslist. Buy used items on eBay, garage sales, and thrift shops. Living on a Dime has advice on how to save money, get out of debt, and grow rich.
Live within your means and know where your money is going every month.
Accept the economic reduction in lifestyle and find ways to live big. Find joy from your kids, pets, parents.
Appreciate what you have. Even if it’s a job that doesn’t cover your bills. Being in a negative income situation is better than having no income at all, and eventually that will change as you find ways to reduce your spending and supplement your income. You’re better off than people who don’t have jobs and can’t find work.
You’ve got this!
Here’s an important thing to remember:
You’re a woman. You can do anything!