Homebuying Downsizing After Divorce

Yes, you can enjoy your single life and not break the bank. Here are 7 strategies to help you save money post-divorce.

By Chanize Thorpe Illustration by Pui Yan Fong
PUBLISHED 01/05/2023 | 6 MINUTES

After my 22-year marriage ended, I had to revamp my life—and revise my spending habits. It took a while to adjust, but I hit my stride by making some simple changes. As I experienced first-hand, going through a divorce can be expensive. But you can get back on track financially, and keep the fun in your life, with these money-saving tips.

Furnish Your New Place on the Cheap—or Even for Free 

When I moved into a studio apartment, I left most of my furniture behind in my marital home. To furnish my new place, I turned to resale stores. A friend directed me to Habitat for Humanity ReStores, which sells gently used home goods and more, and I found an Ethan Allen loveseat in great condition for $15 and other inexpensive furniture. Even better: The proceeds from ReStore sales are used to construct houses for displaced families.

You can also get goods for free on Facebook Marketplace or by connecting with groups like the Buy Nothing Project, a community of more than five million people worldwide who give, receive and lend a plethora of goods and services—with no money ever exchanged.

Consider Prepared Meals 

Tired of wasting money and not always in the mood to cook for one, I turned to meal delivery programs such as Hello Fresh. Hello Fresh’s “Factor” brand offers single-serving meals, starting at $11, that don’t require any prep. Factor has a variety of options for specific diets, such as Keto chorizo chili, vegan mushroom marsala and pescatarian-friendly sweet chili shrimp. Hello Fresh also offers recipes and ingredients for two-serving meals (leftovers!) for the days I do decide to use my kitchen.

Learn to DIY Repairs

If you have a place with a landlord, you’ll likely be able to contact them when you need repairs. However, if you bought a new home, you’ll discover just how expensive certain maintenance jobs can be. Become handy-dandy by taking free or low-cost virtual classes like “How to Unclog Anything” from DIY University or “How to Install a New Toilet” with Home Depot’s webcasts. Another option: Check out YouTube for tutorials. 

Cut the (Cable) Cord

For many, the idea of getting rid of cable is scary. However, investing in a smart TV like Roku, which has many network channels included, can be a better deal. (I got my 43-inch Roku on sale at BJ’s Wholesale Club for $219 last year. The original price was $289.) Streaming television is where it’s at, and the cost of Netflix, Hulu and other favorites can be cheaper than the average cable bill. 

If you only use Wi-Fi for your smart television and internet needs, you may be eligible to save $30 to $75 on your monthly internet bill through the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which recently replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB). I paid nothing with my EBB discount and will pay just $19.99 a month through the ACP program—saving hundreds of dollars on my admittedly obsessive streaming habit. Note that there are eligibility criteria that must be met to participate in ACP.

Choose a Cost-Efficient Car

As you make life changes, you might want to consider switching out your car. For 50-year-old Kari O’Driscoll, a post-divorce move from Seattle to a smaller home in Southern California with her children prompted an automotive adjustment. She sold her Nissan Leaf and invested in a Tesla electric car. “It was more expensive, but with the tax incentives and rebates, plus the fact gas is nearly $5 a gallon here, I’ve saved a ton of money,” she says. “There are free charging ports all over, I’m driving less than I ever did before and I’m not contributing to more pollution.”

Get Higher Learning for Less

Want to take a few courses for fun or to enhance your professional education? Check your local library. Some of my computer skills needed refreshing, so I signed up for free classes in Microsoft Word, Excel and website building. You can also take free or low-cost online classes in many subjects at top-tier universities such as Harvard and Yale through massive open online courses, also known as MOOCs. These are available through sites like edX and Coursera, and are offered by a wide range of colleges, companies and trade groups.

Expand Your Horizons 

Getting out of the house can bolster your mental health and improve your quality of life. Meetup, which lists thousands of daily in-person and virtual events, is a terrific resource. You can join a free group to learn a new language or meet up with other singles for concerts, sporting games and more. Or consider solo travel. You can book a trip with affordable, single-friendly tour operators like Overseas Adventure Travel, or sail on Norwegian cruises around the world or Avalon Waterways’ luxury river cruises, which often waive the solo supplement fee.

Chanize Thorpe is an African American lifestyle writer and proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Her work has appeared in dozens of national publications and websites for more than 20 years. 

Millie content is licensed from Dotdash Meredith, publisher of Millie, Real Simple, InStyle, Investopedia, The Balance and more.


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