Personal Finance

How do I get back to my feet after an abusive relationship?


By tracking your expenses and income, you can identify areas where you can cut back and save money. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

‘I don’t just want to survive — I want to thrive’: I’m 42, work full time with occasional part-time jobs, and left a 15-year abusive relationship. How do I get back on my feet financially?

Leaving an abusive relationship can be one of the most challenging things someone can do. It often takes a great deal of courage and strength to decide to leave and start a new life.

For many people, this also means starting over financially. If you are in this position and looking to get back on your feet financially, here are 10 steps you can take to help you thrive:

Create a budget

A budget is an essential tool for anyone looking to take control of their finances. It allows you to see where your money is going and how much you have coming in each month.

By tracking your expenses and income, you can identify areas where you can cut back and save money. Create a list of all your expenses, including rent, utilities, food, and transportation, and make sure that they fit within your income.

Reduce expenses

Once you have created your budget, it's time to consider reducing your expenses. One of the best ways to do this is to cut back on your discretionary spending and focus on your key need areas.

Avoid spending money on non-essential items and focus on your basic needs. This can help you save money and reduce your financial stress.

Read: Embrace savings culture

Seek extra income streams

If you're working full-time with occasional part-time jobs, it might be a good idea to look for additional income streams.

Consider taking up freelance work or starting a side hustle to supplement your income. You could also consider taking on more responsibilities at your current job or looking for higher-paying opportunities.

Build an emergency fund

An emergency fund is a savings account that is set aside specifically for unexpected expenses, such as car repairs, medical bills, or job loss.

Start by setting aside a small amount of money each month, and over time, this will add up, and you will have a cushion to fall back on when unexpected expenses arise.

Aim to save at least three to six months' worth of living expenses in your emergency fund.

Prioritise debt

If you have debt, it is important to prioritise paying it off as quickly as possible. One effective method for paying off debt is the debt snowball method.

This involves paying off your smallest debt first, then moving on to the next smallest debt, and so on until all of your debt is paid off.

Another method is the debt avalanche method, which involves prioritizing debt with the highest interest rates first.

By paying off your debt quickly, you can free up more money to put toward your emergency fund, investments, or other financial goals.

Read: Instilling a savings culture in Kenya

Start investing

Once you have paid off your debt and built an emergency fund, it's time to start investing your money. Investing can help you build wealth over time and prepare for the future.

There are many different types of investments to choose from, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and real estate.

Get support

Leaving an abusive relationship can be emotionally and financially challenging. It's important to seek out support from friends, family, or a professional counsellor as you work to rebuild your life.

You may also be eligible for financial assistance from support groups and NGOs that focus on the economic empowerment of the vulnerable.

Seek professional help

If you're struggling to get back on your feet financially, it may be helpful to seek the advice of a financial professional. This could be a financial planner, accountant, or credit counsellor.

A professional can help you assess your financial situation, create a plan to get out of debt, provide guidance on how to improve your credit score, and offer advice on how to invest your money wisely.

Focus on your mental health

Lastly, focusing on your mental health is just as important as your financial health. Leaving an abusive relationship can be traumatic, and it's important to seek therapy or counselling to work through the emotional effects of your past relationship.

Taking care of your mental health can help you feel more confident and empowered, which can, in turn, help you make better financial decisions and take control of your financial future.

Ms Awour is a financial trainer and consultant on retirement solutions. [email protected]