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Dealing with money problems after divorce

by Harlan L. Jacobsen

The biggest problems marrieds and singles alike seem to have revolve around money and sex. Let us talk about the single or the newly singled person and money and we shall take up the sexual problems at another time.

First of all, money becomes a serious problem in most divorces, not only the legal expense but supporting two households on the same income that used to support one. So there is some change required in lowering living standards and necessity for increasing income or both.

There are many ways to cut expenses by lowering living standards but there are other things that can be done.

You can take in a roommate who is in a similar situation. Admittedly, this not only helps solve a problem but if you don’t choose wisely, can create some. For two women living together (both with children) I have known this to work out great. The grocery bill doesn’t double, the light bill, phone bill and other utilities go up little and two sharing the house cost cuts it in half. Baby sitting expenses are eliminated and cooking only half the time gives more free time for work, study, etc.

Many 45-year-old divorcees who have stayed home all of their married life raising children now find themselves completely alone, no income and no past job experience.

First of all, there are many government retraining programs and scholarships available for low income groups (that’s you now, remember?) To find out about these, phone the State Employment Office and see if they can refer you to the right agencies. Some of these even give you an income while you are going to school.

To increase your income, obtain specialized knowledge! Obtain a knowledge in demand. Right now, for example, you would probably be better off obtaining an R.N. than a teaching degree. If you already have some specialized knowledge, use it to add to your income. If you play the piano, give piano lessons.

If you know how to tune pianos, tune pianos. If you don’t know how and would like to supplement your income that way, learn how to tune pianos or whatever. Whatever your talent or specialized knowledge, continue to improve or increase it.

Go back to school, even if you have to go nights. Henry Ford once said, "Anyone who stops learning is old whether they be 20 or 80." Anyone who keeps on learning not only remains young but becomes constantly more valuable regardless of physical capacities.

Figure out where your interests lie and learn everything there is to learn in your field. Figure out how to market your specialized knowledge and talents. If you are now in a low income bracket and self supporting, you are entitled to federal assistance on many housing programs.

Call HUD and ask to be referred to the right agencies administering this type of program for low income where the federal government makes a good share of your house payment, etc. Many times you can live in a nice home with a low income on these programs that would require several thousand dollars more income to normally afford. These are not welfare programs but are designed to put people in better housing. You own the house.

Education is the key to improving income. Remember that many specialized jobs that are on the increase did not even exist a few years ago.

Look ahead for opportunities. Remember — just about all the craftsmen in buggy whip manufacturing are unemployed. Increasing your income is a problem many newly divorced people have faced. Some suddenly find it necessary to hold down a part time job in addition to a full time job.

Each situation can be corrected if you get right with the program of cutting your expenses quickly, and constantly improving your income possibilities.

Do not wait until you are seriously in debt. Get off your duff and get going! If you are already hopelessly in debt as a result of a divorce, many consider bankruptcy. Child support or taxes are not dischargeable but about all other debts are. Normally you are allowed to keep your house, furniture and most other things.

You can get out of a hopeless situation and build from there but you will need to bring your income and expenses together or you will be back in trouble once again. One of the hardest things to do is to lower your standard of living. There is a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that you can and are making it on your own.

When you are increasing your knowledge and capabilities, your income will almost certainly increase, too, and everything should get better and easier.