How to avoid overspending after a divorce

January 15, 2015

After a separation or divorce, everything can feel overwhelming. It's normal to struggle with feelings of guilt, or to end up competing with the other parent when children are involved. Sometimes, guilt and a sense of competitiveness combine, making it really easy to overspend on the children. Overspending can make one parent feel like the better parent, but it can also lead to financial problems. Consider these money-saving tips for newly single parents to keep finances under control when starting over as a single parent.

How to avoid overspending after a divorce

Money-saving tips for the newly divorced and separated

Avoid getting caught up in the emotions that cause overspending on the children after a relationship ends. Sure, the children still want nice things, and it's normal to want to provide those nice things. Going broke, however, is not going to help anyone feel better.

  • Cut brand-name items from the budget: Many store-brand products are made with equal or even superior quality to name-brands at a fraction of the cost. Sure, the children might want $200 name-brand shoes, but $20 shoes will protect their feet just as well as the pricey shoes.
  • Buy used: Buying lightly used, pre-owned items is a way to provide name brand items for the family at pennies on the dollar compared to new store prices. Used items can be picked up at great prices in thrift shops and garage sales, or even online.
  • Shop sales: Take the time to surf through ads for favourite stores. Make a list of each store's loss leaders, the items marked at unusually low prices. This approach takes longer, both in preparation time before shopping and in visiting multiple stores, but it also lets the family continue to enjoy some new brand-name items without spending so much.
  • Use coupons: Like shopping at store sales, couponing requires a time investment, but it can cut a lot of money from a budget already tightened by losing one income source. Combine couponing with shopping sale ads, and the savings climb even higher. One way to have fun with couponing is to bring the children into the process. They can help cut out and sort coupons and discuss things like meal planning, plus the time spent together can help heal a family that has been freshly divided by a divorce or separation.

Why overspending is so common after a divorce or separation

Compensation is the psychological force behind the drive to overspend after a divorce. According to a Popular Social Science article about Alfred Adler, the psychologist who first developed the theory of compensation, when one feels weak or inferior (common feelings after a divorce), that person is likely to try to compensate for that feeling of weakness by being exceptional at something else. For a parent in a delicate emotional state, overspending is a common result.

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