The Money Trap

How NOT to spend money during your divorce

So you’re in the middle of a divorce. Let’s say, just for fun, you’re probably not going to be the custodial parent, because even though you have a greater income, you’ve also spent most of your marriage working at the office rather than at home, and you’re a little less mentally and emotionally equipped to have the kids at home full-time than your ex is. It’s OK, nobody’s to blame there; that’s just how it happens sometimes.

But now you’ve got your own space, all to yourself, and even though you’re going to get hit with child support (and no complaints outta you, you chose to have the kids, the minimum support decreed by the court is the very least you can do for them, capice?), well, you’re not supporting her lifestyle anymore either right?

So what to do with all this money you’re suddenly not having to spend?

If your answer is “Hookers and blow!” well, you need help far beyond what this article is capable of providing.

At the same time, you also don’t want to suddenly start buying the biggest LCD TV you can find, nor the fanciest sports car on the lot. Yes, it may be your right as a newly-single male to create your very own man-cave with which you and your buddies and hang and watch the game with all the latest and greatest technology money can buy.

But technology is expensive. And during the divorce, your income, and expenditures, will be gone over with a fine-toothed comb, especially when there is a question of child support.

This isn’t a threat, it’s just how it is. Judges, and lawyers on both sides, are going to be looking for this information in order to get the maximum value child support towards the children, while still allowing that you, too, need to make a living. But while all this is going on, a recently-acquired monthly payment for a 2014 Maserati is going to raise more than a few eyebrows, especially by attorneys for the custodial parent.

While it’s important not to blow all your money in a fit of pique, or thinking it won’t come back to haunt you, you also don’t want to go in the other direction either, as that can lead to something far more insidious and damaging.

It’s natural, when going through the divorce process, and it’s your finances going over, to feel besieged, and maybe feel like you have less money than what you really do. With that, every single purchase becomes agonizing. You start putting in only $20 in the tank every time you need to fill up, even tho at today’s rates it only gets you halfway full, because you never know when you might have something really bad come up.

And you start living on dollar meal deals at fast food joints because they seem like a good deal, and hey you can feed the kids on them too! But you can’t have those all the time, so you also get the most cut-rate food you can get at the store. It might not be the healthiest, but at least your belly is full right?

You start neglecting other things like new, decent clothing, or automotive repairs, or home repairs, etc. etc. All because you think you’ve got this specter hanging over you called Child Support and any deviation from that will mean financial ruin.

What I’ve just described is called “Living Poor.” It’s a horrible mindset to get into. It eats away at your ability to make reasonable purchasing decisions that can otherwise allow you to live comfortably, if nothing else. Getting this particularly nasty mental worm can adversely affect how you go through your post-divorce life, and even affect your relationship with your children, especially if they’re made to feel they are a burden on your finances. Even if you assure them otherwise. Children are real good at picking up on emotional vibes, especially if they contradict what is being said to them verbally.

Essentially, be sensible with your money, especially during the divorce. Child support is not a punishment. It’s not a crime to have money, and it’s not a crime to spend it. Just don’t be flamboyant with it, and don’t act like you’ll be broke if you buy yourself decent food at the grocery instead of Little Debbies.

And for crying out loud, when you get your new place? Make sure it has a room and beds for the kids. That’s something that looks very good when listing your expenses. It shows you’re not just looking out for yourself. A little goodwill goes a long way through this process.

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