Debt is the nagging reminder of divorce that sticks around years. When your life first oh-so-wonderfully falls apart, money becomes a huge concern. You lost half the income on which you survived. Now all those times you splurged on vacations, purses, shoes and furniture are haunting your credit card.
I’ve been divorced for about five years now and I’m still paying off my wedding expenses, honeymoon and former condo. I was sadly the “breadwinner” with a low-paying music biz job and we lived off my credit cards. My divorce was simple and uncontested so we didn’t go into any details like who owed who what. I took what I wanted and left him to deal with the mortgage on our condo since he requested the divorce. I probably would have most of that damage paid off by now if I didn’t lose my job along with my marriage. Thank you, economic collapse.
Luckily, my mom showed me a secret to survival: balance transfers.
I learned that balances can be transferred from one credit card to another. Most balance transfer offers include a zero percent APR for 12-18 months. That means you won’t be paying interest during that time period, just working down your debt. The trick is to transfer to a credit card with a low APR. It won’t make sense to transfer balance to a new card that has a 27 percent APR if your current card has only 13 percent.
I’ve transferred balances a few times and it has helped me tremendously towards saving money on monthly credit card payments. The only thing you have to remember is that after that initial zero percent APR runs out, your monthly payment is going to increase. This recently happened to me and opening my credit card statement to see a one hundred dollar increase in my monthly payment was not fun. Luckily, I was just able to do another balance transfer.
Some credit card companies will only accept half of your balance, but I say this is still worth it because you’re getting a card with lower APR and can eventually cut up the more expensive card. Even though you’ll have an extra payment, you’ll be paying less total per month. It’s like finding money you didn’t know was at your disposal.
There’s no guidebook for divorcèes to manage their finances and I’m certainly not an expert. Please do your research, read articles like “The Dos and Don’ts of Credit Card Balance Transfers” on DailyFinance.com and consult your financially savvy friends and family. Make the decision that is right for you.
And next time you get “junk” mail from a credit card company, open the envelope. You might just not have to get that second job, after all.