Many families are two-income households, so having or getting a job is not an issue. However, there are also plenty of families where one spouse is staying at home full-time or part-time to raise their family.
Even if no kids are in the mix, there is a chance that the job you currently have is not one that will sustain you long-term if you have been relying on being in a two-income household. The questions are – how much more do you need to work? The “how” is really dependent on you and your background. The “how much more” is going to be determined by your budget. Ahh. The budget. Some people live and die by their budget, and others are asking themselves what exactly is a budget and how does it work?
Pulling out a piece of paper, finding a new app, or setting up an Excel spreadsheet is in your very near future! You need to know how much you make versus how much you spend on essentials and figure out what, if any, gap exists. We’ll be drilling it down to the specifics. The training exercise at the end of this chapter will walk you through exactly where you stand and give you a clear picture of what you need to do.
Divorce will cost you money, and not just the “getting the divorce” part. Expenses that you used to share now fall solely on your shoulders. Is there a gap? How much? If it’s not too big of a gap, then belt tightening might be enough for you. But if there is a true shortfall, you will need to earn more money. This is where the “how?” question pops up.
The short answer is quite frankly, “however you can.” In my case, this meant taking admin jobs in fields that didn’t especially interest me. This is probably not the time to decide to pursue your dream of being a world-famous beekeeper. You need to make ends meet! It’s not forever; it’s for right now. Look at your options:
- Is it possible to ask for a raise?
- Could you pick up a part-time job? (Hey, maybe you combine your Starbucks habit with a job as a barista)
- Could you pick up a temp job?
- Could you become a consultant?
- Could you work on a freelance, per-project basis?
- Need housing too? Could you be a live-in nanny? Caretaker?
You get the drift. Remember, this is not for all eternity; it’s to get you through the divorce and on the other side. A word of caution: while counting on alimony, child support or your spouse picking up the bills – you don’t know what you may be awarded when it comes to the former and you may not be able to rely on your spouse to stick to his or her agreement in the latter.
This is part of anticipating challenges. You may not experience any difficulties in getting and collecting alimony and/or child support and your spouse may very well do the agreed-upon part. Consider it a bonus, bank it, and move on. The flip side of this is that perhaps you have been the main wage earner of your family. Or maybe you just make more money than your spouse. Be prepared to give some of your earnings to your spouse in the form of alimony, child support, and insurance.
The courts have formulas to work out the amounts, and your input and agreements with your spouse may not even be considered. Consult with your attorney on how to best include any financial agreements you have made with your spouse in your divorce agreement. Understand that such agreements may be difficult to enforce if they fall outside the court-designated payment schedules and divisions.
By now you may be noticing a common thread in handling your finances, housing, and job: do whatever it takes. These variables are really different for every single person. Money may not be an issue for you, and if that is the case, you are well ahead in your training! Your focus will be on organizing your finances as an about-to-be-single person. Many people will run into a roadblock in one or all of these areas, though. That roadblock may seem insurmountable, so much so that some people will stay in a miserable marriage because they don’t see a way out.
It’s doable. But you will have to be willing to make some sacrifices. There will be some effort involved. The athlete training for the Ironman triathlon doesn’t wish it into being. That athlete gets up before the sun, works hard, harder than she ever thought possible, is careful with her diet, stays focused, and crashes in bed every night wiped out from the day’s work.
If you are facing what feel like impossible odds, remember, you can do it if you are willing to take on the work required. Maybe it means holding down two jobs, maybe it means giving up some of life’s little luxuries, maybe your housing is less than ideal, your car is a bit of a clunker, and you don’t get to buy new clothes for a little while. So what?
You are fighting for something far better: YOU! Your true self does not care about the latest clothes, fanciest cars, or dinners out. Your true self wants to live! Your true self needs you to take it to a place where it can grow and breathe and if you are in a marriage that does not work, does not fulfill you, and is perhaps even dangerous, your true self wants you to get out!
It’s not forever; it’s for now.