Unless you happen to be a multimillionaire, divorce causes a massive hit on your lifestyle. Suddenly you have to find a way to do a whole lot more, with a whole lot less. Here are 50 ways to save money after divorce.
1. Make a Budget. Even if you don’t stick to it religiously, just knowing where your money is going can help you spend it more wisely.
2. Cut up Your Credit Cards … Or At Least Leave Them At Home. If you don’t have a way to pay for what you see, you can’t impulse shop. If you see something you really and truly need, and you can afford it, you can always come back with money later.
3. Use Points. If you do keep a credit card, keep one that allows you to accumulate and use points. It’s a good way to get free air fare and other perks that can let you splurge on a vacation you otherwise couldn’t afford.
4. Sign Up For Every Free Rewards Program You Can Find. Grocery stores, retail stores and credit card companies often offer rewards programs. Take advantage of every free perk you can get! (And here is a hint: set up a special email account and have all of your rewards programs email you there. That is an easy way to stay organized.)
5. Keep Track of Your Money. Overdraft fees are like burning money. Try to keep track of what you have in your bank account and do your best to live within your means.
6. Pay Your Bills on Time. Just like overdraft fees, late fees and interest charges are wasted money. If you know you can’t afford to pay your entire bill on time, pay something. You may still get charged interest, but at least you will eliminate the late fee.
7. Pay Off the Credit Cards With the Highest Interest Rate First. Pay the minimum on every credit card, but put any extra cash you can find toward paying off the credit card with the highest interest rate first. Then cut up that card, and start paying off the card with the next highest rate. Don’t stop until you are debt-free.
8. Stay Out of Stores. Yes, sometimes it really is that simple. If you don’t see it, you won’t be tempted to buy it. Period.
9. Shop in Thrift Stores and Flea Markets. You may be surprised at what you can find in thrift stores. Not only can you get gently used household goods, books, clothing and toys there, but sometimes you can find unique items that you like much better than what traditional stores offer.
10. Sell What You Don’t Need. Have a garage sale. Sell stuff on Ebay. Get familiar with Craig’s list. If you have things that have been sitting around the house for years that you never use – sell them.
11. Rent a Room in Your House. This won’t work for everyone, but if you got the house in the divorce, and you have an extra room (especially if you live in a college town, or you have a basement room with a separate entrance) consider renting a room to make some extra cash.
12. Ask For a Raise. Do the best job you can. Be willing to go the extra mile. Then, after awhile, ask for a raise. Your boss may say no, but you never know unless you ask! (By taking on new responsibilities you also may grow to the point where you can also go somewhere else and get a better job!)
13. Re-Calculate Your Payroll Deductions. Once you are divorced, you will be filing your income taxes as a single person, and perhaps as head-of-household. Re-calculate the amount of payroll taxes that you are having withheld. You may be able to increase your take-home pay just by lowering your withholding. (Just make sure you don’t under-withhold! There can be penalties for that.)
14. Take Public Transportation. While this may not be an option if you live somewhere that public transportation isn’t great, if you do have this option, it is a way to save money on gas and parking, and enjoy the ride when you don’t have to drive!
15. Eliminate Carry Out. No, you don’t have to kick your coffee habit. You just have to get an insulated cup and start bringing your own coffee to work.
16. Bring Your Own Lunch to Work. Not only will you save money bringing your lunch to work, but you will probably start eating healthier when you are not tempted by fast-food choices too.
17. Eat in. Restaurant food is expensive. So is the pre-packaged stuff you buy in the grocery store. If you buy simple, healthy ingredients you can make delicious and nutritious food for a fraction of what you would pay if you were eating out.
18. Start a garden. If you live in an apartment, this might not be feasible. But, growing your own vegetables is cheaper than buying them … plus you can go organic!
19. Re-examine Your Drinking Pattern. If you do go to a restaurant, having a few drinks with dinner can dramatically increase your bill. Going out to a bar is just as bad. If you want to save money, consider cutting back on your alcohol consumption. If you must drink, do it at home.
20. Stop Smoking. Not only will you save money now, but you will save your health, and a fortune in medical bills, later.
21. Re-Examine Your Insurance Policies. Are you carrying coverage you don’t need? Is there coverage you can live without? (i.e. insurance on jewelry or perhaps personal liability insurance.) Comparison shop on premium prices, or consider raising a deductible in order to lower premium payments.
22. Consider Term Life Insurance. Term life insurance has no cash value, but it also costs much less than whole or universal life insurance. If you need to maintain life insurance, term insurance may be your most economical option.
23. Examine all of your membership and subscription costs. Do you really need to get 100 cable channels? Really? What about the magazine you no longer have time to read? Or the store membership that costs you $50 a year, and requires you to buy in such bulk that your basement looks like a consignment store? Do you really need all that stuff?
24. Avoid Taking Out Pay Day Loans. The offers may sound tempting, especially when you need the money, but the real cost of these loans is crazy!
25. Re-examine Your Phone Plan. Do you really need unlimited minutes? Are you paying for extras you never use? You can easily compare phone plans online. Getting a more modest plan can save you a lot.
26. Eliminate Your Land Line. If your cell phone is always with you, and that is the number people always call, do you really need a land line too?
27. Cut Your Utility Bills. Comparison shop your utility rates. You may be able to find a better deal with a different company. Also, be energy aware. Turn out lights. Seal your windows with plastic in the winter. Lower your air conditioner by a few degrees in the summer. Install a programmable thermostat.
28. Replace Your Light Bulbs With Energy Saving Ones. They will cost you more in the short run, but long term, they will help you save a lot in your overall energy bill.
29. Unplug Appliances You Are Not Using. Many appliances continue to draw small amounts of electricity even when they are turned off. To avoid running up your electrical bill for things you aren’t even using, don’t just turn off your appliances: unplug them.
30. Eliminate the Housekeeper. Forget about perfect. Set a routine for getting necessary housework done. Have your kids pitch in more with the chores. Do what you can, and don’t sweat the rest.
31. Stop Buying Expensive Cleaning Products. You would be surprised at how effective ordinary products like vinegar and baking soda can be to clean your house. Of course, you will need basic cleaning products. But you don’t need the fancy, expensive ones that promise to do everything from cleaning your toilet to shining your shoes.
32. Refinance Your Home. Interest rates are still fairly low. If you can refinance your home and lower your monthly payment, do it! If you can take out some equity and pay off your credit card bills too, so much the better! Just don’t take money out of your house and then spend it on something outrageous that you don’t really need.
33. Consolidate Your Student Loans. While this might not always be possible, if you can do it, paying one bill is always better than paying several smaller ones.
34. Temporarily Reduce Your Retirement Contributions. This isn’t the most financially sound option, but if you are far from retirement and need cash now, you might be able to temporarily stop or reduce the amount you put towards your retirement until you can afford to ramp your contributions back up. (Note that if your employer matches your contributions, you should only reduce what you are putting towards retirement if you have no other option!)
35. Consider a Stay-cation. You don’t have to go on a cruise to have a relaxing vacation. Stay home and organize cheap or free activities with your kids. Turn off your phone, stay away from the computer, and focus on doing things together. It could be the best vacation you ever had!
36. Buy generic. Generic goods, and particularly generic prescription drugs, are usually as good as the name brand. When you have a choice, choose generic.
37. Pay attention to deals. Cut coupons. Look at grocery store flyers and sites like Groupon. Take advantage of every deal you can. (Just don’t get sucked into buying what you don’t need, just because it is such a “good deal.”)
38. If You are Not Going to the Gym, Cancel Your Membership. If you really use your membership, fine. Exercise is enormously important. It can be a great stress release and even a social outlet. But paying for something you don’t even use is not good for your health.
39. Find Cheap Entertainment. Is there a movie theater near you that offers cheap movies? What about art fairs or street fairs that have free admission? Museums often have free days, and getting your books from a library is much cheaper than buying them.
40. Entertain In. One of the easiest ways to save money after divorce is to reign in your entertainment budget. The best part is that you don’t have to become a hermit to do it! Invite friends over for a barbecue, or a pot luck. Make your own “happy hour” at your home and have everyone bring their beverage of choice. You can hang out with friends at your house for a fraction of the cost of going out.
41. Re-Examine Your Beauty Routine. Can you paint your own nails rather than getting a manicure every week? Can you stretch the time between haircuts from 6 weeks to 8? Looking good and feeling good are important, but there are ways to do it that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
42. Switch to Inexpensive Beauty Products. The truth is that most of the difference between high-end beauty products and the drug-store variety is marketing. You would also be amazed at how ordinary products like coconut oil, honey, lemon and baking soda can be awesome and inexpensive beauty aids!
43. Don’t Buy as Many Clothes. You don’t want to look like a frump, but you don’t need to have 10 of the same shirts in different colors either. Buy a few key pieces each season, and work with what you have.
44. Repair Clothing Instead of Tossing It. Sewing is easy, and it can save you a ton in clothing costs. Learn to sew on buttons, repair small rips, and fix torn hems.
45. Learn to Say No to Your Kids. Look at the real cost of their activities. Limit them to one activity per season, and steer them away from the higher priced sports and traveling teams when you can. Sure, if your kid lives to play hockey, its going to cost you. But maybe he doesn’t need to play all year round.
46. Spend More Time And Less Money On Your Kids. What your kids really want from you is YOU – your time, your attention, your love. Instead of buying them a distraction, or paying to take them out, spend time at home playing board games, video games, or doing things together that everyone enjoys.
47. Use Friends, Not Babysitters. Everyone needs an evening out now and then. Instead of hiring a sitter, swap babysitting time with a friend. That way each of you can take some time away from your kids without having to pay a sitter!
48. Reduce Your Dry Cleaning Costs. Compare dry cleaning prices and go for the best deal. If same day service costs more, plan ahead and go for the standard charge. Whenever you can, wear clothes you can wash yourself.
49. Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, and do some good for others. It also helps you realize just how much you really have.
50. Be Grateful For What You Have. How you think about money means more than you realize. By focusing on what you have, instead of what you lack, and being grateful for everything, you will attract more abundance into your life.
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