Keeping your finances afloat when your relationship sinks
If your relationship has broken down, find out how to keep on top of your finances.
It’s Saturday night. You’re home alone with just the television and a cheap bottle of plonk for company. You have just broken up with what you thought was the love of your life and you feel like your whole world has just ended.
When a relationship fails, money is often the last of your worries, especially when you’re feeling emotionally and mentally drained. Or it could be that money problems were the source of the relationship breakdown – in a recent survey of 372 CCCS clients, 37% said that a debt problem had adversely affected their relationship with their partner.
If you're recently out of a relationship where finances were previously shared, but your significant other was in charge, you may be finding yourself clueless in the money arena, particularly for those that used to be 'kept'.
And it’s easy to underestimate the cost of maintaining two households after a break up - mortgage payments, insurance, rent, utilities and cars.
It’s important to understand you’re not going to have the same lifestyle as prior to the split and things are going to change financially as well as practically.
So whether the split was amicable or not, we’ve developed a guide with practical tips on how you can stay on track by yourself:
Draw up a budget
The first thing to do is to sit down and work out a realistic and sustainable budget. If it’s the first time you’ve had to do this, use an online budgeting tool to help you. You can also take a look at the budgeting tab on the lovemoney.com online banking tool which allows you to set a monthly budget for any specific category (such as petrol and fuel).
If you were in charge of the finances before, be prepared for your new budget to look very different to your previous budgets.
What are you entitled to?
It’s advisable to get a benefits check as soon as possible. It could just be something as simple as a 25% single person discount for council tax, or you could now be entitled to a lot more, such as tax credits and housing benefit.
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can assist you with this and the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) also have a dedicated welfare benefits team. It can be a tricky subject to approach, but if the kids are staying with you, try to make an arrangement for child support if you can.
Keep your priorities are up to date
It’s really important to keep on top of priorities, such as your mortgage or rent, council tax and utilities. If your partner took care of these in the past, contact your lender, council or utility provider to make sure there aren’t any arrears. If you are behind, contact them as soon as possible to make an arrangement to repay them within a reasonable timescale.
Try to close or remove your name from any joint accounts. It’s even more important to remove your partner if they are an additional card holder to prevent them from spending at your expense!
Banks may be reluctant to remove your name from joint accounts where there are existing debts or arrears so try to negotiate with the bank and your ex to make sure you’re not the one left paying the debts.
Check your credit file
This could bring up some surprises if you’ve been blasé about joint applications for credit, but the sooner you face up to your finances, the sooner you can start to gain control. This credit explained booklet tells you all you need to know about credit reference files and how to apply for yours. You can also read 10 steps to a perfect credit record.
If you do find that you’re behind with bills or now realise that you haven’t got enough money coming in to meet those ever-increasing outgoings, use the CCCS online debt counselling tool Debt Remedy to help you get back on track.
Hopefully the pain of the breakup will ease in time – just make sure it doesn’t cause a separation from you and your money.
Have we missed any tips, or do you have any experiences to share? Post your thoughts below.