Dealing With the Financial Discrepancies Between You and Your Ex

By Melissa Chapman

This is a familiar scenario many single Moms face; a discrepancy in their finances and that of their ex spouse’s. Perhaps you’re newly divorced after having been a stay-at-home Mom for the past ten years or you’ve worked full-time throughout your marriage but your salary was never enough to cover real expenses like mortgage payments and car insurance. Your salary was fun money meant for ballet lessons, take-out dinners once a week and your kids’ monthly shopping spree at Target.
But since your divorce you feel ancient jumping back into a workforce that is unrecognizable. Thank G-d your kids have schooled you on using the computer! Sure you’ve got child support but it barely covers your monthly expenses .When your kids come back from weekends with their Dad it takes all your energy not cringe when they remark about the new Flat screen Plasma he just bought for his living room. Whereas at your house, all they’ve got is one lousy cable box, and a television that is easily twenty years old! Although your kids have commented about the lack of “perks” living with you, you’re far more concerned with being able to provide for their basic needs, if possible, in a manner that is at least on par with their Father.
According to Rebecca Shambaugh, author of (McGraw-Hill) single Moms needn’t feel “stuck” in their financial predicament. In fact they should rest assured confident in the knowledge that with a bit of soul searching and organizing they can certainly begin to increase their earning power and level the playing field when it comes to any financial discrepancies between them and their ex husbands.
“Sometimes single Moms get stuck in a financial rut or stuck in a box and feel they don’t have choices,” says Shambaugh. “The first thing a single Mom needs to do is take a step back and realize this is not as good as it gets and they are not stuck in a box based on where someone else has put them. If they buy into that mentality, then it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and their reality.”
Ask your self this question; what do you need from a financial perspective to support yourself and your kids? What do you need financially in order to begin feeling confident in your ability to take care of your family financially? Step back, prioritize, reorganize and map out a strategic plan.
-If you’re currently working, whether you’re part-time or full-time, let your colleagues know that you’re a team player. Find out what you’re good at, play on your strengths and articulate how you can bring value to that job. Share the skills you have that would benefit the organization and add value, and always, speak with a sense of confidence!
“But by the same token, realize that at this point in your life you’re raising kids as a single parent,” says Shambaugh. “Don’t be afraid to let your colleagues at work know that you’re juggling work with raising kids on your own, and don’t feel guilty about setting clear boundaries between both worlds.”
-If you’re not working, understand what your strengths are and how to market yourself. Find out what the market place is like; what opportunities are available to you and what you’re worth. If you already have a job make sure you are being paid your market value and if you aren’t find ways to increase your income.
-Seek out mentors, people who are in a better position and don’t be shy about asking them how they got there. Build a personal board of advisors, people that can connect you with other people who can collectively help strengthen your net worth.
-Reach out to a financial advisor and sit down with her to get some sound financial advice. Sometimes single Moms need to step back and determine what they’re entitled to in terms of their divorce settlement based on the financial dynamics of their personal family situation.
“You have to be to your own creator,” says Shambaugh. “You need to create a plan to really strengthen your own household, your own professional well-being and security. Although deep down we’ve been socialized to think that others will take care of us, that way of thinking is a thing of the past. As a single Mom you will need to reframe the way you think.”  

To find out more about how you can; balance your work, embracing “good enough” in your work, make your words count and ask for what you want, check out:


More SMW Family Advice

How Do You Co-Parent With An Ex Whom You Are Not On Speaking Terms With?

Daddy Dearest: Three Types of Dads and How to Deal with Them

Finding the Positive in Being a Single Parent