The financial consequences of divorce on single mothers are often devastating. In my experience in counseling those who have gone through a divorce, I've concluded that couples rarely do as well separately as they did together. It's important from a biblical perspective, however, not to be resentful, bitter, or fearful. Rather, you need to be realistic about where you are financially and what your alternatives are, as well as remain dependent upon a faithful and all-powerful God.
A Financial Plan
You can begin to determine whether lifestyle changes will be needed by developing a financial plan. You'll confront the same questions, problems, and challenges during the various seasons of life that a married couple will face. The primary difference will be that you don't have the financial resources you had as a couple, and therefore you may be forced to choose different alternatives.
While your children are young, for example, you'll be concerned with living on a budget, avoiding debt, maintaining the right life insurance, having a will, deciding how to school your kids, training your children to manage money, and choosing whether to buy a house (if that's possible for you) or rent – just like a married couple.
During your children's teen and college years, you'll be concerned with providing a secondary education for them. It may be more likely that they'll have to work to pay part of the cost, attend a less expensive school, or rely on financial aid now that household income is reduced. That wouldn't hurt them, of course, and may be God's best way of supplying their college education. What you spend on their cars and weddings will also be affected.
Those are just a few examples. The underlying reality is that you'll almost certainly have to take a more conservative approach to planning and managing your financial life than you did when you were married.
Caring for Aging Parents
One other financial challenge you may face is caring for your aging parents. Studies show that women provide most of the care for their parents. Furthermore, nearly 40 percent of those caring for the elderly are still raising children of their own.
A U.S. House of Representatives report showed that the average American woman will spend 17 years raising children and 18 years helping aged parents. As people live longer and chronic disabling conditions become more common, the likelihood increases that your parents will need extra care.
The topic of caring for aging parents is broad and difficult. When your parents move in with you or you're financially responsible for them, you have to revise the family budget to reflect the increased expenses. There are no easy answers. The only thing you can do is discuss that possibility ahead of time with your parents and make provisions when everyone is fully competent to do so. Such decisions are always best made ahead of time rather than in the heat of the need.
Keys to Financial Success
As a single-again woman, you need to remember that the keys to financial success are very simple regardless of your financial situation:
- Understand that God owns it all
- Spend less than you earn
- Avoid the use of debt
- Build an emergency savings fund
- Set some long-term goals.
Those may prove difficult to follow, I know, but God is faithful.