smart spending

5 ways divorce can cost you

Out-of-control spending
Out-of-control spending © Deklofenak/Shutterstock.com

After your divorce, you may be tempted to spend like you used to. You may want to outfit your new residence to create a "home" or shower your children with gifts to alleviate guilt. But all that spending only erodes your overall financial security.

If there is ever a time for a budget, this is it. Track the money coming in and going out until you get used to your new financial reality, says Chatzky. Create your new house slowly, buying what you need versus what you want.

"Everyone needs a place to sleep, but should you renovate the new kitchen because it's not as nice as the old one?" says Chatzky. "I'd say hold off."

Decide what your top priority is -- such as your mortgage, children's education or lifestyle -- and budget your money around that goal, says Mary Ellen Nicol, a certified housing counselor with CredAbility, a nonprofit credit counseling service. Otherwise, you may end up borrowing money from your 401(k) or get cash advances to keep up multiple priorities.

"The challenge, on an emotional level, is looking at the new budget and celebrating the top priority," says Nicol, "instead of maintaining something that is no longer a priority."

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