Divorce can be financially devastating divorce for women. Despite our continued push to raise the glass ceiling, the truth is that men are far more likely to be the main breadwinners of the family and that women are more likely to leave the workforce to care for children or the home. This leaves women at a significant financial disadvantage after a divorce, but many women have one important thing going for them – their family.
If you have a tightknit family (or even a group of close friends who serve as your “family”), don’t be afraid to lean on them during and after your divorce. It will take you some time to get back on your feet after all the dust settles, and your family can help you make that transition more swiftly and successfully…but only if you are brave enough to ask for help!
Here are five ways your family can help you save money during and after your divorce:
1. Non-Professional Therapy
Breaking up your marriage is sure to leave you with emotional scars, and your family is here to lend you an ear and a shoulder to cry on. Even if your sister or your mom lives far away, you can always pick up the phone and call them. Don’t be afraid to ask for weekly “vent sessions.”
How does this help your finances? Well, first of all, emotional support can help you stay focused at work, find the courage to go back to school, or feel more confident when you send out your resume. Also, you may be able to use your family for your emotional support network rather than paying for professional therapy. (Note: If you are having a very difficult time adjusting to your divorce, you may want to consider professional therapy regardless of cost.)
Whether you were a stay-at-home mom or enjoyed a flush two-income household before divorce, you may never have worried about childcare costs before. Now that you’re on your own, that cost is going to rest entirely on your shoulders if you are the custodial parent. According to Time Magazine, “the majority of American households spend more than 10% of their household income on childcare.”
If you’re just trying to get on your feet, these costs can be devastating. Before you shell out $214 a week for an after-school sitter, talk to your family. If your parents or an aunt are retired, perhaps they can take the kids while you work or go to school. If one of your siblings is a stay-at-home parent, they may be willing to add your kids to the mix if they are in close driving range.
No matter how much you want to stay in your home after divorce, it just might not be possible without your ex-husband’s income. Don’t make the mistake of staying in the home and then struggling month after month to barely cover the mortgage.
Now is the time to ask your family for some help. Moving back in with Mom and Dad may feel like a step backward, but the money you save can help pay for school or give you a cushion as you look for work. It may also help you save for a down payment on a new place or a security deposit for an apartment. Moving in with family doesn’t have to be permanent. Even staying a few months can save you thousands in housing costs and help you start building back your emergency savings account.
If you need money quickly and don’t (or can’t) put costs on your credit cards, you may need to consider selling your car. Losing transportation is a scary prospect and can put you in a bind, especially if you need to travel to work. Here again, your family and friends can spring to the rescue. See if you can carpool or if they would be willing to drive you to job interviews or classes until you can get your own transportation. Some families even have “extra” vehicles they may be able to loan, give, or sell you. If someone in you family is looking to buy a new vehicle, they may also be willing to sell their old car to you at a discount. It never hurts to ask.
5. Odds and Ends
If you are close to your family, then it is likely that they want to help you any way that they can during this difficult transition period in your life. Let them help. Once you divide your estate with your husband, you may need a lot of help to build back up. If your brother wants to pay for your groceries for a while, let him. If your grandparents offer to loan you a few thousand dollars with no interest, consider taking it. Maybe your aunt has an old dining room table that you can use or offers to give you jewelry she never wears that you can sell.
Don’t be too proud to take a hand that is offering to help. This assistance can help you recover from your divorce more quickly so that one day you can pay all this goodwill forward. After all, that’s what family is for!
Want to know what to expect during a divorce? Find a Second Saturday Divorce Workshop in your area and keep reading our divorce information for women.