Budgeting Tips for Life After Divorce

You may be getting divorced, but you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 34% of women and 33% of men in the United States are right there with you, having endured the end of their unions.

Certainly, though, this life event can cause emotional turmoil, and it may trigger worries about money too. Take heart: The end of a marriage does not have to mean an end to financial security. If you keep calm and make a careful post-divorce budget, you are more likely to stay fiscally fit.

Learn more here with tips on how to prepare financially for a divorce and soften your landing, including:

•   Why a post-divorce budget is critical

•   How to budget after divorce

•   How to divide kids’ expenses

•   How to adjust to one income

•   How to supplement earnings.

Why Is a Post-divorce Budget Critical?

A realistic budget after divorce is a must. It can often cost a lot more to run two households than one. Still, doing what’s right for your personal life path and well-being comes first; there’s no point staying unhappily wed simply to save money. It can be possible to find steady footing during this transition with the right basic living expenses budget.

Truth is, after the sometimes hefty expense of a divorce lawyer (if you hired one), you will possibly be solely responsible for housing, utilities, groceries, car maintenance, and more.

There are various ways to budget for this, including the 50/30/20 rule and the envelope system, among others. You’ll also likely encounter a variety of tools, including spreadsheets and apps. Take the time to review your options and find an approach that feels right for you.

Recommended: Am I Responsible for My Spouse’s Debt?

Lifestyle Pre-divorce and Post-divorce Will Be Different

Get ready for changes in your lifestyle and your cash management. Transitioning from couplehood to single status can take time, patience, and being kind to yourself.

You may be responsible for more household chores now, as you may not be able to afford, say, the cleaning person or landscaper you used to employ. Trimming the leisure budget (dinners out, vacations, entertainment, fitness classes) might be necessary, but all is not lost. Prioritize what is most important to your self-care now. This can be a bump in the road, not the end of the line.

Newly Single Life Can Be Taxing Emotionally and Financially

Divorce can affect your spirit as well as your bank account. If you’re struggling and don’t have a therapist, consider finding one and/or joining a support group in your community. No awards are given for white-knuckling a marriage breakup without counsel. We can’t always “adult” our way through rough seas.

Finances for Children May Be Difficult

Children are a hot-button topic for almost all parents, both married and divorced. Meeting their emotional and financial needs can lead to a tug-of-war, especially if you and your ex don’t communicate calmly and effectively.

As your divorce unfolds, pay close attention to what counts as child support. For instance, you may want to continue your child’s soccer league, guitar lessons, or art classes, but these activities may or may not be covered. Also, if you have a teen who is begging for a used car, that large expenditure may not be covered by child support either.

Knowing just what counts as a child support expense, along with careful record keeping, will be important as you develop with your divorce budget. After all, knowledge is power. It will help you negotiate and budget better as a single parent, as well as keep the peace as you co-parent.

Recognize You Can No Longer Rely on Two Incomes

It can be a huge learning curve: Relying on a single salary instead of two. This post-divorce situation can be especially complicated if your ex had the employee benefits, including family health and dental insurance, 401(k) contributions, and a flexible spending account (FSA), where payroll deductions cover everything from child care to eyeglasses.

Now is the time to investigate what options you have to gain self-sufficiency and stay on budget. For example, if you work, does your employer offer an affordable health insurance plan? If you are self-employed, what networking groups could advise you on good options? Do you perhaps qualify for a lower-cost health insurance plan on the marketplace? Invest some time in exploring what’s available that suits your needs and budget.

Potential Questions to Ask Yourself

As you move through your divorce process and onto your newly single life, ask and answer the big questions. These can help you both trouble-shoot and thrive.

•   How much is my income going to change? First, look at joint bank statements (it’s easy online). See how much your spouse and you have each contributed to the family income. In many cases, of course, alimony will come into play, but you need a realistic income-based expectation for that, too.

•   What do I need to let go of? This may take soul-searching. As you go from two to one income, it’s likely that something’s got to give in terms of expenditures. Think creatively about where and how to economize. You might decide to plan and cook ahead for the week to minimize the temptation and expense of eating out. Or perhaps you decide to split an apartment with a friend for a while to save on rent while you get your bearings. It’s your call.

•   How should I supplement my income? If you need to get cash flowing your way, contemplate what’s in your toolbox of strengths and skills. A key benefit of a side hustle is that it can boost your income and fit your schedule. Maybe you’re a super-organized person who offers decluttering skills, a tech-savvy type who can build websites for others, or an animal lover who pet-sits or walks dogs. Other ideas: Fill free hours as an Instacart shopper, Amazon delivery person, or Uber driver.

•   How will we fairly work out financial support for the kids? Are the children dividing their time 50/50 between you and your ex? What will your child support agreement entail? What additional expenses may come up in the future (tutoring, college prep classes)? Think and work it through, possibly with professional guidance which can share the prevailing practices on this front.

Post-Divorce Budgeting Tips

Once you have mulled over the issues relating to post-divorce life, keep these strategies in mind to help you optimize your finances.

Focusing On Current Income

Base your budget on your income now, after taxes. Do not base it on the projected income you hope to have. Don’t get caught up thinking about your former two-person income. Being pragmatic right now wil likely pay off and help you stay out of debt.

Focusing On Most Important Monthly Expenses

For now, prioritize what it will take to get through daily life. Calculate costs of a roof over your head, a way to get to work, food, child care, healthcare, and other essentials. Take care of people first, starting with yourself; then deal with material things later.

Letting Go of Unnecessary Items

Go ahead and slash some items out of your budget. Perhaps you can jettison a couple of streaming services, cut back on clothes shopping, and mow your own lawn instead of hiring someone else to do it. That feeling of opening up some room in your budget can be priceless.

Giving Yourself Safe and Budget-Friendly Fun

Find the right mood lifters. Avoid expensive, impulsive purchases (say, a new car) when you are feeling emotionally hurt and raw. They can wreak havoc with your finances.

Instead, treat yourself to free or low-cost adventures and experiences. Fresh air can be healing and motivating; local parks and wildlife sanctuaries may offer free guided walks and birdwatching outings. Or perhaps get a membership to The North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association and enjoy free entry to 1,000 member institutions.

Considering Working With a Financial Advisor

As you sort out your finances as you approach a divorce, you may want to enlist a professional versed in the issues that can crop up. Child support, shared credit-card debt, and division of jointly owned real estate can require this kind of guidance. A certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) is trained to assist with this and help you get the fairest possible deal.

Post-divorce, you might also seek out an advisor who can help you set up a financial plan so that your spending and saving habits suit your new situation.

The Takeaway

Transitioning from pre-divorce to post-divorce life can stir up fears and insecurities, but you can take concrete steps to manage the unknown. Face facts about income, and set a realistic budget. Prioritize your needs, and be willing to put unnecessary expenses on hold for now. Like so many others, you will find your footing and peace of mind, thanks to patience, flexibility, and wise budgeting.

Looking for a financial institution that can help out? A SoFi online bank account makes it easier to manage finances, follow a budget, and track your income, right on your smartphone or laptop. Sign up for our Checking and Savings with direct deposit, and you’ll earn a top-notch APY, without any account fees. That means your money could grow faster.

Better banking is here with up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


How do you budget after a divorce?

To budget for post-divorce life, assess and prioritize non-negotiable needs (such as housing, food, utilities, and child care), and phase out or reduce unnecessary extras. Pay attention to the details of your divorce agreement, as alimony and/or child support may impact your finances significantly.

How long does it take to financially recover from divorce?

The timeline for recovering financially from divorce varies tremendously, depending on the particulars of a person’s income, divorce agreement, and other factors. Many people feel it takes at least a few years to fully regain their sense of control over their money, though that could happen much sooner for some.

Will I be poor after divorce?

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that after a divorce, household income for women can drop considerably. This is all the more reason to budget carefully after divorce and seek professional advice. These steps could help you avoid costly mistakes that impact your financial wellness.

Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Buying a Multifamily Property With No Money Down

Buying a Multifamily Property With No Money Down: What You Should Know First

Real estate investments make money through appreciation and rental income. Real estate can diversify a portfolio and act as a hedge against inflation, since landlords can pass rising costs to tenants. But the down payment on multifamily investment properties? At least 20%, or 25% to get a better rate.

It’s true that eligible borrowers may use a 0% down VA loan for a property with up to four units as long as they live there. But those loans serve a relative few and are considered residential financing. Properties with more than four units are considered commercial.

So how can a cash-poor but curiosity-rich person tap the potential of multifamily properties? By not footing the entire bill themselves.

Can You Buy a Multifamily Property With No Money?

When you buy real estate, you typically have two options: Buy with cash or finance your purchase with a mortgage loan.

There are various types of mortgages. If you take out a home loan, you’ll likely need to pay a portion of the purchase price in cash in the form of a down payment.

The minimum down payment you make will depend on the type of mortgage you choose — the average down payment on a house is well under 20% — and it will help determine what terms and interest rates you’ll be offered by lenders.
This money needs to come from somewhere, but it doesn’t necessarily need to come from your own savings account. When investors buy multifamily properties with “no money down,” it just means they are using little to no personal money to cover the upfront costs.

If you don’t have much cash of your own, there are several ways that you can fund the purchase of a multifamily investment property.

6 Ways to Pay for a Multifamily Property

Find a Co-Borrower

If you don’t have the money to front the costs of a property yourself, you may be able to partner with a family member, friend, or business partner. They may have the money to cover the down payment, and you might pull your weight by researching properties or managing them.

When you co-borrow with someone, you’ll each be responsible for the monthly mortgage payments. You’ll also share profits in the form of rents or capital gains if you sell the property.

Give an Equity Share

You may give an equity investor a share in the property to cover the down payment. Say a multifamily property costs $750,000, and you need a 20% down payment. An equity investor could give you $150,000 in exchange for 20% of the monthly rental income and 20% of the profit when the property is sold.

Borrow From a Hard Money Lender

Hard money loans are offered by private lenders or investors, not banks. The mortgage underwriting process tends to be less strict than that of traditional mortgages. Depending on the property you want to buy, no down payment may be required.

These loans have high interest rates and short terms — one to three years is typical — with interest-only payments the norm. For this reason, they may be used by investors who may be looking to flip the property in short order, allowing them to make a profit and pay off the loan quickly.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.

House Hack

House hacking refers to leveraging property you already own to generate income. For example, you might rent out an in-law suite or list your property on Airbnb.

Another option: You could rent out your primary residence and move into one of the units in a multifamily property you buy. This way, you’d probably generate more income than if you had rented out the unit to a tenant.

Finally, you could hop on the ADU bandwagon if you own a single-family home. Accessory dwelling units can take the form of a converted garage, an attached or detached unit, or an interior conversion. The rental income can be sizable. To fund a new ADU, homeowners may tap home equity, look into cash-out refinancing, or even use a personal loan.

Seek Seller Financing

If you don’t have the cash for a down payment on a property, you may be able to forgo financing from a lending institution and get help instead from the seller.

With owner financing, there are no minimum down payment requirements. Several types of seller financing arrangements exist:

•   All-inclusive mortgage: The seller extends credit for the entire purchase price of the home, less any down payment.

•   Junior mortgage: The buyer finances a portion of the sales price through a lending institution, while the seller finances the difference.

•   Land contracts: The buyer and seller share ownership until the buyer makes the final payment on the property and receives the deed.

•   Lease purchase: The buyer leases the property from the seller for a set period of time, after which the owner agrees to sell the property at previously agreed-upon terms. Lease payments may count toward the purchase price.

•   Assumable mortgage: A buyer may be able to take over a seller’s mortgage if the lender approves and the buyer qualifies. FHA, VA, and USDA loans are assumable mortgages.

Invest Indirectly

Not everyone wants to become a landlord in order to add real estate to their portfolio. Luckily, they can invest indirectly, including through crowdfunding sites and real estate investment trusts (REITs).

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2013 allows real estate investors to pool their money through online real estate crowdfunding platforms to buy multifamily and other types of properties. The platforms give average investors access to real estate options that were once only available to the very wealthy.

REITs are companies that own various types of real estate, including apartment buildings. Investors can buy shares on the open market, and the company passes along the profits generated by rent. To qualify as a REIT, the company must pass along at least 90% of its taxable income to shareholders each year.

As investment opportunities go, REITs can be a good choice for passive-income investors.

The Takeaway

Buying a multifamily property with no money down is possible if you take the roads less traveled, including leveraging other people’s money.

SoFi offers financing for properties with one to four units as well as investment properties. Rates are competitive.

You can check your rate in minutes.


Can I buy a multifamily home with an FHA loan?

It is possible to buy a property with up to four units with a standard mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration if the buyer plans to live in one of the units for at least a year. The FHA considers homes with up to four units single-family housing. The down payment could be as low as 3.5%. There are loan limits.

A rarer product, an FHA multifamily loan, may be used to buy a property with five or more units. The down payment is higher. You’ll pay mortgage insurance premiums upfront and annually for any FHA loan.

Is a multifamily property considered a commercial property?

Properties with five or more units are generally considered commercial real estate. Commercial real estate loans usually have shorter terms, and higher interest rates and down payment requirements than residential loans. They almost always include a prepayment penalty.

Photo credit: iStock/jsmith

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Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


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