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While a divorce’s emotional aspects may be hard to navigate, regaining financial independence can be equally challenging as a person relearns to live on a single salary and manage expenses independently.
Building a new emotional and financial foundation is important once a divorce is finalized. But where to begin?
1. Make time for self-reflection
Experts suggest exploring who you are as an individual outside the context of a marriage. This is an opportunity for a fresh start and the chance to create a new life full of possibilities.
2. Prioritize self-care
After the emotionally taxing experience of divorce, prioritizing self-care is important. Evaluate your mental, physical and financial well-being, and if needed, seek comfort and support from close friends and family, or consider a therapist who can provide professional advice and guidance.
3. Embrace new opportunities
Envision the life you want post-divorce and take active steps to make it happen. This may be time to explore new interests, go back to school, pursue personal passions or invest in other personal development opportunities you might have put on hold.
4. Accept that your financial life will be different
Typically, the standard of living for both partners drops in the first few years post-divorce, as partners move from one home to two individual homes and all related expenses and from joint incomes back to single incomes. Divorce changes everything. And emotionally accepting that your financial life will likely change, even temporarily, is a critical step on the healing journey.
1. Assess your new financial situation
You’ve gone from two incomes to one, from sharing expenses to covering them solo. The most important step to building your financial independence is to have a clear understanding of where you’re currently at. Take inventory of what you do have: RRSPs, investments, real estate, pension plans, etc. It will all contribute towards your overall financial picture.
2. Build a post-divorce budget
Begin by understanding your financial needs and create a budget that reflects your post-divorce financial reality. To create your budget, start with your income, then prioritize all essential expenses such as housing, transportation, healthcare and food, followed by any non-essential expenses. Any money remaining after your expenses are covered could be used to start building an emergency fund and investing for your future. Above all else, look for ways to reduce spending until you understand your new finances better. You’ve been through a lot already; staying within your budget can help to ease financial stress.
3. Set financial goals
It’s important to establish new financial goals for yourself. Whether it’s paying off debt, investing for the future or saving for a new home, these goals are your goals, which can help inspire you to achieve them. If your goals feel daunting or overwhelming, break them into smaller goals and celebrate the milestones. This will keep you motivated and help track your progress.
4. Rebuild your credit (if you need to)
Divorce often leaves both parties financially drained and unfamiliar with their new financial reality, which may hurt your credit score. If this is the case, rebuild your credit score by ensuring timely payments to your creditors, paying off credit card balances and abstaining from taking on new credit. These three steps should help you start to rebuild your credit score quickly.
5. Seek professional financial guidance
Building budgets and managing finances is not for everyone. And that’s okay. Consider booking an appointment with a financial professional for guidance and support in building strategies tailored to your needs.
Remember, rebuilding your finances post-divorce is a process that takes patience and time. Focus on self-care and creating a clear set of financial goals. With the right planning and support teams, you may be back to thriving financially and emotionally in the not-too-distant future.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.