By Steve Unger
Special to DadsDivorce.com
How much does a divorce cost? That depends on many individual factors, but in any case, you’ll probably need to make some financial adjustments afterwards. That’s especially true for divorcing fathers.
Most divorced dads have to pay for child support and often two sets of living expenses. Obviously that leaves less money for everything else – your necessities and bill-paying as well as personal pleasures.
With that in mind, here are some helpful money-saving tips for single dads after a divorce.
Establish a new personal budget.
With many sudden new expenses after a divorce – and the loss of your spouse’s income, if applicable – you may be shocked at how fast your paycheck goes. One of the first things many divorced dads need to do is to establish a realistic budget with personal spending limits.
Cover the big life necessities first, like costs for food, housing, utilities, car ownership, etc. If you have other monthly expenses such as credit cards, home-equity loans and tuition, be sure to factor those in.
At this stage of your situation, financial discipline may be critical: don’t spend yourself into heavy debt or miss any payments that could damage your credit rating.
Make your post-divorce income go farther.
Plan your grocery shopping in advance to reduce trips to the store, and never shop when you’re hungry. Watch for sales and stock up on bulk items you’ll need. Prepare several meals at once – pastas, soups or chili, for example – and then freeze some for later.
Spend less on expensive coffees and other beverages: if you eliminate a $4 coffee every day of the work week, you’ll save $1,000 a year!
Save money on gas by carpooling or using public transportation and by simply cutting back on unnecessary driving. To be both economical and healthy, try walking more or even riding a bicycle.
Invest in a programmable thermostat so you’re not paying to heat or cool your home when it’s empty. Add insulation and change furnace filters regularly. Turn off lights. Fix dripping faucets. Economizing can be easy.
Spend more time, not more money.
It’s natural for dads to want to entertain their kids and do fun things when you get together. But if you’re smart and careful, you can enhance your quality time economically.
For example, instead of going to a movie, rent a DVD and make your own popcorn at home. Same with sporting events. Watching a ball game on TV might not feel the same as the real thing, but you’ll save a lot on tickets, food and parking.
Also look into kid-friendly weekend programs at libraries and museums, or simply go for a hike in nature. Most children want their dad’s company and attention, not just gifts.
Use smart money options.
If your employer offers a 401(k) retirement plan, take advantage of it if you have enough financial leeway. It’s an easy way to invest long-term, and your contribution comes off of your taxable gross income. Many companies also provide a matching donation, which is like free money for your future.
Consider automatic bill-paying. Most mortgage companies, credit cards and utilities will make timely electronic deductions directly from your bank account, saving you the cost of stamps and checks every month. It also helps avoid the risk of missing a payment. However, you have to be sure the funds are in your account at the time.
Partner with men’s divorce attorneys who protect your rights.
There are many little ways to cut costs every day, but one of the smartest money-saving moves is to choose the right divorce lawyer at the start.
An experienced mens divorce attorney will know how to fight to protect your interests and assets while maximizing your role in your children’s lives.
Cordell & Cordell:
Steve Unger is a freelance writer based in St. Louis, Mo.
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