In a life that is now, thankfully, in my past (thanks to divorce!), my financial situation was a hot mess! My ex-husband and I squeaked by paycheck-to-paycheck, we survived just a little too much on credit cards, and never managed to save any money for vacations or rainy days. I recall paying bills each month as I held my breath and said a prayer over the checkbook. My favorite post-bill paying saying was “well, we have electricity for another month!”
My money mayhem was maddening to me because there was no reason we shouldn’t have had the money we needed to live comfortably, enjoy more extras, or be better prepared for necessities. But, where did the money go?
As anyone who’s married knows, finances become a combined affair, and the spending sins of one spouse can wreak havoc on the entire household!
I recall barely having enough money to buy formula for my infant son, but my ex had a brand new 4-wheeler parked in our garage. He could always find money for new power tools, hunting equipment, and religiously bought new movies each week for his movie collection (he had two DVD players that each held 200 movies). I can confidently say that our money was wasted away on idiotic nonsense!
When we made the decision to divorce, we amicably divided our property among us. Clearly, any of his many “toys” remained with him, and I kept practical household goods or heirlooms that previously belonged to me. He walked away from our marriage the proud owner of our house, a brand new truck, an extensive array of computers and electronics, and “stuff” that all cost a pretty penny, while my prizes in the divorce included a crappy old station wagon and a washer and dryer.
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Upon meeting with my lawyer, I was notified that my ex was filing for bankruptcy, and I would have to also unless I wanted to bear the financial burden for all of his treasures by myself. Fantastic! As you might imagine, the monetary Armageddon unleashed by him did quite a number on my credit score, which followed me around for quite some time. I often had a few choice words to say in his honor as I struggled on my own to replace my car when it finally died, applied for homes to rent, and so on.
I think that many years of living on the edge has conditioned me to be cheap; and I’m not ashamed to say that I still do many frugal things. I still make my own laundry soap (thank you, Pinterest!), clip coupons, hunt for bargains in thrift shops, and am an avid DIY’er. Scrimping kept my family alive for many years. It’s a hard habit to break, but it’s also one that allows me to feel that I can maintain a comfortable edge in my budget.
One of the biggest blessings I have discovered through my divorce was finding my freedom from a partner’s mistakes and poor judgment.
One of the biggest blessings I have discovered through my divorce was finding my freedom from a partner’s mistakes and poor judgment, and the ability to manage everything in my life, including my finances, my way! I’m no financial guru, but I have made monumental strides in my stability and lessened the level of anxiety I experience related to money!
I am thrilled to report that my financial emancipation from irresponsibility has permitted me to confidently plan for my future, take my kids on the vacations we never used to be able to go on, and face holidays, back-to-school, and other times of increased spending without the need to breathe into a paper bag!
Simultaneously, I see that my ex’s situation is as poor, if not worse than it was before we parted ways. He follows his methods and I follow mine. My growth is a result of my hard work and not attributed to child support, spousal support, or anything coming from him, because we have no such agreement. It all comes down to priorities!
READ ALSO: 5 Ways it Pays to Be Divorced
Divorce is most often a traumatic event to not only our personal relationships, but also our finances. Even if our spouse’s financial habits were sound, we will have to become accustomed to major adjustments in our lifestyle and income. Where once we may have had two incomes supporting the household, the same resources must be split in two. The size of our home, bank account, and budget may shrink; but, we can still master what we have available to us and make wise choices.
If we were the spouse with poor monetary judgement, divorce is the ideal time to reign in unnecessary spending and other risky behaviors to develop more stable footing for the future. It’s never too late to learn from past mistakes and do better, moving forward! And, if you are like me, divorce may become your escape hatch to financial salvation. I may never be wealthy, but I am tremendously relieved to no longer worry like I used to!