3 Systematic Ways to Keep Your Breakup Cheap and Still Be Civil

Joanne Poh


Breaking up is never fun. In fact, it frigging sucks. On top of all that, it could actually cost you a lot of money. Just ask anyone who’s lost the deposit and had to give up their HDB flat because an engagement fell through.

Even if you weren’t on the verge of tying the knot, there are still a few ways you can find yourself not only nursing a broken heart but also an empty wallet. Here are some things you need to do when you and your partner decide to call it quits.


1. Settle accounts

It’s not the smartest thing in the world to do, but most people have been in that position where they started thinking of their partners as extensions of themselves, and stopped keeping track of who was paying for what. We’re not suggesting you start collecting money for all those lunches you bought your partner. But when it comes to instances where one party paid for the other expecting to be paid back, it’s time to settle your accounts.

For instance, if one of you loaned the other money to pay for their car, it’s only fair that the money be repaid when the relationship comes to an end. The same goes for loans for tuition fees. However, if you didn’t mean for your ex-partner to pay back the money or intended it as a gift, don’t try to claw it back now. That’s not cool.


2. Divide shared belongings

If you’re going through a divorce, the courts will distribute most of your major shared property. Otherwise, there are bound to be some things that you’ll want to decide how to share, especially if you were living together or always at each other’s places. For instance, one of my friends bought a dog for his ex-girlfriend and when they broke up, the dog stayed with her, but he felt as if he had lost a child.

It’s very tempting to just leave everything where it is, and then when the dust clears realise that you actually wanted to get back all that stuff you left at your ex-partner’s place. If you know this is going to result in financial hardship, be sure you itemise everything and get your partner to meet up one last time to do a swap. Your digital camera your partner was always using, or the spare mobile phone you lent him when he lost his phone are all fair game. Again, remember it’s usually bad form to ask for gifts to be returned.


Don’t overspend when you’re trying to get over it

Okay, we get that you’re heartbroken, and living like a monk on top of it usually does nothing to ease the pain. Sure, spend a bit of money to treat yourself and try to get back on your feet. You might even want to increase your monthly budget a bit during this difficult period. Spend time with your friends, have a nice meal or two, start a new hobby, perhaps even buy yourself some new clothes. All this will help you to move on. But always continue to keep tabs on how much you’re spending. Being sad is no excuse to completely let yourself go.

Don’t make the mistake of going overboard. Treating yourself every now and then does not give you licence to engage in a spending free-for-all. Your buddies might be urging you to join them at the lup sup KTV where you’ll be spending $1,000 a night, but if you’re not comfortable with that, don’t do it. As hard as it is to imagine, we promise that one day you will heal and feel normal again. But trust us, you don’t want to be broke when that happens.

What have your spending habits been like after a breakup? Tell us in the comments!

Subscribe to get weekly updates on personal finance


Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.