Let’s face it: After you’ve been through a divorce, money is tight! Not only do you have to live on less income, but, if you’re like most people, your expenses probably went up too! On top of that, you probably have lawyers’ bills, refinancing costs, and other divorce expenses to pay. Now more than ever you need to find ways to save money!
Here are some tips you can use to help you save money so that you can get back on your financial feet fast.
64 Ways to Save Money After Divorce.
Financial Tips to Help You Save Money
1. Make a Budget.
Yes, making a budget can be boring and tedious. But it’s not hard – especially today when there are tons of budgeting apps that can help you do the job. While the thought of “being on a budget” may make you cringe, when money is tight, having a budget can make a huge difference in your finances. Even if you don’t stick to your budget religiously, just knowing where your money is going can help you spend it more wisely.
2. 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.)
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 airfare 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.
Paying overdraft fees and interest charges is like burning money. They give you no tangible value, and usually cost an exorbitant amount. To avoid getting charged bank overdraft fees and interest charges, try to keep track of what you have in your bank account all the time. Most banks have an app now that will let you see your bank balance 24/7. It also helps if you 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 have trouble paying your bills on time, put your basic bills on autopay. Also, pay something on all of your bills each month. If 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. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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!
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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!)
14. Separate Your Bank Accounts
Keep the money you use to pay bills in your checking account. Keep your savings in a separate savings account. While you may think that putting your money in two separate places makes no difference at all, there’s truth to the saying “out of sight, out of mind.” If you keep your savings separate, you’re less likely to dip into it.
Spending Hacks and Money Saving Tips
15. Freeze Your Credit Cards … Literally!
Get a small Tupperware container, fill it full of water, drop in your credit card, then put it in the freezer! While this tactic may seem extreme, it’s actually extremely effective! We all have eyes that are bigger than our budgets! Freezing your credit cards can save you from impulse shopping. If you see something you really and truly need, and you can afford it, you can always come back later once your card thaws out.
16. Delete Your Credit Card Numbers Online.
Lots of online stores let you store your credit card information to make purchasing easier. You want to make your purchasing harder. So delete your credit card information from every online store you use. That way, if you want to make a purchase, it will take more effort.
17. Buy generic.
Generic prescription drugs are usually as good as the name brand. Ask you doctor or your pharmacist if you can swap your expensive prescription drugs for their less expensive generic alternative. If you can go generic, do!
18. Comparison Shop – Especially for Prescriptions!
The price of prescriptions can vary enormously from store to store. While buying generic will help, comparing the prices for your prescriptions across various pharmacies can save you even more.
19. Pay attention to deals.
Cut coupons. Look at grocery store flyers and online coupon 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.”)
20. Use Discount Gift Cards
Discounted gift cards can be as good as coupons. On websites like Cardpool and Raise you can buy gift cards for restaurants, retail stores and even airline flights for less than their face value. (Again, though, if you buy gift cards for things you would never normally purchase, you’re not saving anything!)
21. 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. (Btw, this also means staying off online stores and shopping apps as well! If online shopping is too tempting for you to resist [even without having your credit card information stored], set up parental controls for yourself! While doing that won’t prevent you from shopping if you’re determined to do so, it will at least make shopping harder. That will help prevent impulse purchases.)
22. 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.
Ways to Make Money After Your Divorce
23. 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.
24. 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.
25. 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!)
26. Work Overtime or Get a Seond Job
Working more may not be possible, or appealing. But if you don’t have enough money to pay your bills, sometimes you’ve just got to bite the bullet and find a way to make a little extra cash, at least for awhile.
Lifestyle Hacks to Save Money After Your Divorce
27. 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!
28. Eliminate Carry Out.
Starbucks, pizza and carry out Chinese may be convenient, but they cost way more than their home made alternatives. While you don’t have to kick your “x cup a day” coffee habit, you will save a lot by bringing your own coffee to work. You will also save if you cook your meals at home, rather than grabbing fast food on the fly.
29. 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. (To save even more when you’re eating out, only drink water with your meal. Eliminating the cost of even non-alcoholic beverages can make a big difference in your dining bill.)
30. Stop Smoking.
Not only will you save money now, but you will save your health, and a fortune in medical bills, later
31. Brown Bag It.
Bringing your lunch to work instead of buying it every day can save you a bundle. Plus, if you bring your own lunch, you will probably start eating healthier too! (Fast food can be tempting!)
32. 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.
33. 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!
34. Switch to Store Brands.
Just as generic prescriptions will save you a ton in your drug costs, using store brands for certain staple items can save you a ton in food costs. There’s not a huge difference in quality for things like tomato sauce and canned beans. If you have to have a special brand of something, that’s okay. But make it the exception rather than the rule.
35. 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?
36. 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.
37. 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!
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 or your wallet.
39. Use YouTube.
If paying for ANY gym membership is a financial stretch for you right now, use YouTube. There are literally thousands of exercise videos from highly trained instructors. You can find everything from yoga to zumba and from weightlifting to pilates. Find a few programs you enjoy and use them instead of a gym membership.
40. 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.
41. 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.
42. 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.
43. 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!
44. 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 shirt in different colors either. Buy a few key pieces each season, and work with what you have.
45. 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.
46. Join Your Local Library.
Your local library can give you free access to books, audiobooks, movies and more. Plus, many libraries have free lectures, programs and kids’ activities that you can participate in when you’re a member.
47. Volunteer at Concerts and Cultural Events.
Many cultural organizations are dying for volunteer help. If you volunteer to usher at a concert or play you will have to put in a bit of extra time to attend the event. But, in exchange for your work, you’ll get to see the performance for free.
Easy Household Expenses You Can Reduce
48. Use a shopping list for your groceries.
Whether you’re using a grocery shopping app or an old-fashioned grocery list written on paper, having a list can make a big difference. If you put everything you need on your list, and you make sure to incorporate sale items too, you shouldn’t have to buy anything at the store that’s NOT on your list. While limiting your purchases to what’s on your list takes a bit of discipline, if you can do it, you can greatly reduce your grocery bill. (It also helps if you don’t grocery shop while you’re hungry!)
49. 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.
50. Ask for a Discount.
You’d be surprised at the discounts you can get if you just ask. If you’ve been a steady customer for years, call your phone plan, your internet service, your insurance companies and other services and ask for a discount. Not every company will give you a discount, but you may be surprised by the number of companies who will!
51. 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?
52. 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.
53. 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.
54. 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.
55. Weather-proof Your Home.
This tip is a bit tricky because it requires you to invest in things like weather-stripping and caulk. But spending money to keep your home sealed from the cold and the heat can save you big bucks in your energy costs in the long run.
56. 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.
57. Reduce the Amount of Laundry Detergent You Use.
I know this sounds crazy. But, laundry detergents today are super concentrated. Your clothes will be just as clean if you use the minimum amount of detergent that the product suggests, not the maximum! (HINT: You can often use even less than the minimum and still get your clothes clean!)
58. 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. Also, whenever you can, wear clothes you can wash yourself. Not only will you save money, but you will reduce the amount of harmful dry cleaning chemicals that you expose yourself to.
Money Saving Tips for Kids’ Expenses
59. Learn to Say No to Your Kids.
Yes, I know this one can be hard – especially when you’re already feeling guilty about your divorce. But learning that there are some things in life that they just can’t have is actually a great lesson for kids. Limiting the “stuff” you buy your kids is one way to cut back. But you can also cut back on your kids’ activities too. I mean, do they really NEED to be involved in three different activities every season? Or would one do perfectly well? Do they really need to be involved in travelling soccer? Or would the local parks and recs team suit them just as well?
60. 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. Instead of carting them around from activity to activity, keep them home and hang out with them at night. Not only will you save money, but you just might improve your relationship with them as well!
61. 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!
62. Institute a Gift-Giving Limit for Holidays
This Christmas, establish a spending limit for gifts. Focus on making the holiday magical in ways that don’t include getting more “stuff!” Also, be sure to let your kids know the spending limit well in advance of the holiday. Not only will the spending limit help reign in their expectations, but it will also open up their creativity when it comes to the gifts they give to other family members, too.
Tips for Putting Everything in Perspective
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.
64. 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.