13 Ways To Cut Expenses To Survive A Divorce In San Diego

There’s no getting around it; going through divorce means adapting to a new lifestyle. A divorce in San Diego is harder still due to the higher average cost of living. While you face the pain, fear, anger and sadness divorce may bring, you will likely be challenged with living on the same family budget – while maintaining two households. To put it mildly, your definition of lifestyle and your priorities will have to undergo a huge transition.   

Here are some creative ways to make your new lifestyle work on a (likely MUCH) smaller budget:  

1. One of the first hard lessons you will learn is what’s necessary and what’s excessive. Do you need cable television when you can you watch Netflix and Hulu? Dining out and coffee habits can be a real drain on your budget as is the amount of food that is thrown away. Plan your menu and your indulgences and you can save quite a bit monthly.

2. In San Diego there are a lot of “swap” events for clothing, furniture, home goods, and even home-made food items and/or home-grown produce. So, if you need some new wardrobe items, home goods, or even fresh produce, you can get these items (sometimes really high-end stuff) for the price of nothing. The deal is that you bring stuff to swap with others in exchange for you picking stuff that you actually want/need. Parents, friends, and neighbors usually have stuff they want to get rid of and might be happy to give you their stuff to take to the swap events.  There is also Facebook Marketplace and Buy Nothing Pages also on Facebook which are area specific. Additionally, Freecycle is a Yahoo group where people post free items in their neighborhood, such refrigerators, furniture, etc. I’d recommend avoiding the “free” section on Craigslist because much of the stuff posted is literally trash.

3. List your home on Airbnb. According to Airbnb, they provide “a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world.” It’s free to create a listing, and hosts decide how much to charge per night, per week or per month. They require proof of identity – you send a picture of your driver’s license when you book. You can also learn more and see the pros and cons.

4. Share your house with another family. House sharing is different than renting out a room because it will typically involve two families. COAbode.org is a single mother house sharing site originally founded on the principle that two single moms raising children together can achieve more than one going it alone.  The benefits include being able to live in a better area with better schools, sharing household expenses and lightening the burden of maintaining a home and raising a family. You might also try reaching out to your community of friends and co-workers to find others in your situation.

5. Meetups are a great way to meet like minded people and find activities that are inexpensive or free.  In San Diego, there’s a great one for single parents with over 2,000 members and something going on nearly every weekend. Many people on this site also post for roommates and housemates.

6. Try discount sites like Goldstar (for local events and tickets to shows and events), Groupon (restaurants, services and places) and LivingSocial.  A great one for meals out at half-price is restaurant.com

7. Live in a tiny house. A friend of mine paid $54,000 and lives in what might be described as a mobile home. She is able to reduce her footprint and live affordably $1,200 a month including her mortgage, land rental and utilities. Not bad for a single mom living in San Diego!! There are also deals to be had as some people realize this lifestyle is not for them and will sell their used home for a fraction of what was paid.

8. Nesting – think of a bird’s nest. This is designed so the children are able to stay in one home and not have to be shuttled between two homes. There are several ways parents can accomplish this. One is by sharing a separate residence and living there when you aren’t on parenting duty. The other is to live in two separate places. This works well for a short time or if a trial separation is your goal. It gets tricky though when one parent is ready to “move on”.

9. When I moved out of the family home, it was necessary to share my room with my youngest daughter.  Most master bedrooms are made for two people so we had plenty of space. We had to work out a schedule so each of us would get time alone. It’s also very healthy for siblings to learn to share a bedroom.

10. Spouses living in separate bedrooms and adhering to schedules is how some divorcing couples make divorce affordable. Some parents sleep with children and others are able to live in another space in the home.  If you are trying to maintain a separate life though, having a schedule of when you are home and taking care of the kids is essential. The other parent stays out of the way or out of the home as much as possible even waiting until after the kids have gone to bed to come home. 

11. Renting out a room in your home – there are many ways to go about this but safety of your family should be your first concern. Ways of finding a “tenant” for your home include Craigslist, word of mouth through your friends and family (Facebook), or advertising at local college campuses. There are all sorts of ways to do background checks and if you are bringing in a stranger, this is essential.

12. Become a “host family” for an exchange student. Some foreign exchange student programs will actually pay the host family for room and board. Homestay Network is a San Diego paid host exchange program.

13. Sell the marital home and rent or buy smaller spaces. If negotiating the sale of the home between you and your spouse will be difficult and over-the-top stressful, consider working with a listing agent who understands and will be sympathetic to the situation. Silver Linings Transitions partners with the Devore Realty Group and divorcing clients who are buying or selling a home have the opportunity to receive FREE move services.

One of the “gifts” of divorce is discovering how resilient and resourceful you are. Think of your new, smaller, lifestyle as a transition. Remember, “Harry Potter” author, JK Rowling, lived in her car after her divorce, obviously just a temporary setback for her. You WILL adjust and do what you need to do to ensure a successful transition to your new life.

Though I’ve found it much harder to live comfortably within my new means, there is no price tag for feeling at peace in my own home.