8 Money Moves to Make After Changing Your Relationship Status to Single
Are you recently single… or, ‘hem, planning to be?
If you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a breakup might mean more than cutting emotional ties. You could be facing the task of untangling a complicated mess of finances from the life you thought you’d live together.
And you might be doing it through tears, champagne, ice cream, a dark and empty apartment, or lots (and lots) of kisses from your pooch — we get it.
To simplify the process so you can get back to discovering the fabulous new single you, here’s a step-by-step guide for how to survive a breakup financially.
1. Open a New Bank Account
You’ve probably already guessed the most basic post-breakup money move: Separate your finances.
The easiest first step is to separate your bank accounts.
Hopefully you agreed on a fair way to split the balance before the relationship went south — if not, negotiate as fairly as possible now. Then remove each other from any joint accounts, and go your separate ways.
If this puts you in the market for a new bank account, consider going online for the greatest flexibility — so you can explore the possibilities of your new life without restrictions.
Aspiration’s free Summit checking account reimburses ATM fees from anywhere in the world, so take that vacation you’ve been putting off!
It also pays up to 100 times more interest than an average checking account, so you can start making your money work harder for you.
2. Cut Other Financial Ties
Splitting your money may seem obvious, but it’s not always simple.
In addition to separating bank accounts, you may also share a lease or mortgage, a car loan or credit card debt.
Regardless of how amicable the breakup is — and kudos if it was! — a clean break is probably your best bet. You may trust each other to stay on top of financial obligations, but who knows how their goals or financial situation might change in the future?
The most common way to remove someone from a loan you share (or remove yourself) is to refinance. This effectively pays off your loan or credit card debt and replaces it with a single loan from a new lender — which could have a lower interest rate!
To refinance smaller loans or shared credit card debt, apply for a personal loan through Credible. It’s basically an online marketplace that offers consumers personalized loan offers. Think of it like Zillow -- but for personal loans.
This will effectively shift the debt into one of your names — so you may consider each refinancing a portion of your shared debt, so you leave with a fair split.
If you own a home together, follow these tips to refinance your mortgage.
3. Get a Copy of Your Credit Report
Aside from the emotional boulder you’re constantly lugging around, one of the toughest parts about rebuilding after a breakup is having no idea where to begin without the other person.
Your finances are no exception.
Especially if your ex took the lead on managing the money, you may not know what financial state you’re in.
To create a rebuilding plan, you have to first know what you’re dealing with.
Do you have credit card debt? Is your name attached to any unpaid loans? Are you behind on medical or utility bills you didn’t know about?
Your credit report will give you this information.
You can get a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus.
If you want to keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. This website breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how you might address it.
Once you know what’s in your credit history, Credit Sesame shares personalized resources and recommendations so you can figure out how to fix it.
4. Find Resolution on Lingering Debts
Your credit report will show you if you’re tied to any unknown debts.
It’ll also show you specifically which creditors you’re dealing with. If refinancing isn’t a good option for you, contact your creditors to determine exactly what needs to be done — and what, in the end, is your responsibility.
Once you clear your credit history, the last thing you want is for it to be ruined again by someone — like a vindictive ex — building new debt in your name.
A free service like TrueIdentity helps you avoid this situation by keeping a watchful eye your finances. It sends alerts by email, phone or text if someone tries to apply for credit in your name.
If you suspect you’re at risk for identity theft, you can place a fraud alert with one of the major credit bureaus. It will contact the others, so you don’t have to set up an alert with all three.
5. Create a New Budget
Once all your financial ties are cut, you have to figure out what your financial situation is going to look like without your partner.
You want to do more than just pay off debts and get by. You want to figure out how to thrive in your new life — right?
If you’ve never managed a budget on your own before, read our tips to get started:
- Follow this easy 14-day plan to get control of your money.
- Watch out for these five common budgeting mistakes.
- Use this free spreadsheet template to create a new budget for your family.
- If all else fails, here’s how to make a budget when you hate budgeting.
6. Rebuild Your Credit
Even if you have damaged credit, you’re not doomed.
In addition to paying off debts and clearing your payment history, a secured credit card can help you rebuild a strong credit rating by establishing credit usage.
A secured card is similar to a debit card — you put down a cash deposit and can use that amount in credit.
Unlike a debit card, secured cards report your payment, balance and other relevant behavior to credit bureaus. So it’s a way to establish a credit history if yours is shot or nonexistent.
7. If You Need to, Find a New Job and Housing
If you’re able to live with friends or family to cut expenses and save for a while, go for it. There’s no shame in it — just don’t make these common mistakes.
If you’re ready to find your own place (or not ready, but need to, anyway), here are some tips for getting the best deal out of your next rental.
Have some of your ex’s stuff you want to get rid of? Dump ‘em on an app like Letgo. You can sell pretty much anything on it and it only takes about 30 seconds to make a listing.
Want to turn your new lease on life into a career change, as well? Try some of these creative job-hunting tactics to find your next dream job.
8. Prepare for Financial Success
Now it’s time to think about the future.
What does a thriving, successful life look like for you? Is there a business you want to double down on, a career you’ve been waiting to start or education you need to finish?
If you’re relying on financial support from loved ones, these 13 steps could help you cut the cord.
Focus on your financial independence to start being proactive about your own success. And before you dive into the next relationship, remember you don’t have to mix finances to say I love you.
When you’re ready for the “define the money” talk in your next relationship, think about keeping separate bank accounts. It’ll afford you financial independence and keep you from staying in a relationship a little too long because you can’t afford to live alone.
But, really, we’re sure the next one will work out for you.
Disclosure: You wouldn’t believe how much coffee The Penny Hoarder team goes through. This post contains affiliate links so we can keep the grinds stocked.
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).