dcsimg The Get Rich Slowly Forums • View topic - Surviving Post-Divorce Poverty

  GRS Home  Forum Home
Bank Rates Center
   Savings Account Rates
   Money Market Rates
   Highest CD Rates
Insurance Rates Center
  Auto           Health
   Life              Home
Mortgage Rates Center
  Mortgage Rates
  Mortgage Quotes

Last visit was:
A place for Get Rich Slowly readers to ask questions
and exchange ideas
It is currently Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:54 pm




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Surviving Post-Divorce Poverty
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 11:15 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 9:34 am
Posts: 124
Location: Deep in the heart'a
My ex-husband and I divorced in 2003. To say that, "I got half," would be true, but instead of half of the assets, I got half of his debt. One of the many reasons for our divorce was that he was taking out credit cards in my name, hiding them from me, and running up huge debts. I was left with $25,000 in debt that I didn't incur, with nothing to show for it, and a huge helping of bitter resentment that I was stuck paying for it.

Leonore J. Weitzman, a sociologist at Stanford University found that, on average, a woman's standard of living plummeted 73% in the year following divorce and I was no exception to this finding. I had been working part time and suddenly I had more debt than my annual salary, plus a mortgage, 18 months left on car payments, and all the living expenses of a house, on top of also being a graduate student. I had three choices: I could either let the debt default, and risk being sued by creditors, or I could pay the debt and lose the house to foreclosure, or I could try to pay everybody a little bit at a time and try to muddle through.

I decided that my pride and stubbornness was going to get me out of this. I was going to find a way to get rid of the credit card debt, keep my house, and get on a better financial footing. My first step was to leave my $14K part-time job and get a $32K full-time job with health insurance. I had about $2K in savings. I also had some money from my parents' life insurance when they passed away but I never touched it. I never considered getting into that money because when I was young, someone had told me, "Don't ever spend this money, not ever, never, just don't even think about it. For you, it doesn't exist." And from that day I had considered it completely untouchable. I was afraid to get into it, afraid to spend it, afraid that I'd get in trouble - if I tried to get into that account, someone would take it away from me.

The first year was hard. I started out with several maxed out credit cards, a mortgage payment, and a $600 car payment, and all of the little bills: car insurance phone, utilities, electric, security, water, groceries. I got paid every two weeks, and paying minimum balances and the basics was keeping my accounts empty. I spent my savings just trying to keep the lights on. I was afraid that I was going to lose everything Just when I felt like I'd hit bottom, a couple of things started going my way. One friend got her own finances in order, and began to repay a loan that my ex had given her. She didn't want to give him the money, so she repaid it to me. She sent me a check for $50 every time she got paid. I swallowed my pride and took the money. For many months, that little bit of money kept me from eating beans and rice every night. Then, my elderly ex-Father in law (who I loved dearly) insisted on paying me "a little something" for my help in keeping his house and running errands for him. There was another $25 a week

About this time, I got a copy of Your Money or Your Life. I also found out about the snowball method of debt repayment and decided to give it a try. In order to come up with a "snowball seed," I got inspired by a TV show, and went through my house and uncluttered years of accumulated crap. I had a virtual garage sale on the internet, and an actual garage sale to get rid of the little stuff. I took the cash and started my snowball. It was tiny at first. In addition to working for my FIL, I put in a couple of nights a week at my university's writing center for extra money. I went through the house again and sold more of my things. This time it was the "good stuff" that was worth more money. They were nice things that had once meant affluence and leisure to me, but were now reminders that I was barely hanging on.

The second year, things got a lot better. I got a bonus at work, and a raise, which put a big dent in the debt, and my car was paid off early in the second year, which gave me additional snowball money. I no longer felt stressed or worried that I would lose my house. I had to deprive myself of many things during that first year. I sold many things because their cash value was more important to me than their sentimental value. I didn't have cable, didn't see all the shows people were talking about, and came out none the worse for wear. But I escaped the post-divorce poverty that so many women find themselves thrust into, and came out a better educated, money-savvy woman with a graduate degree and a positive net worth.

I learned several things:
1. Knowledge is power. When I learned more about money and how to handle it, I didn't feel fearful anymore. Money no longer had power over me - I was the one in charge.
2. Patience is a virtue. It took almost three years to pay down nearly all of that debt, and those balances didn't seem to budge at first. But near the end, I felt like I was cutting up a card every two months.
3. Spartan living does make you stronger. You don't really need a TV. Unplug from the box and go out and participate in life. It's amazing how little you "need" when you're not bombarded by advertising.
4. Yes, there is such a thing as gourmet cooking with Ramen and canned tuna.

In Hindsight:
1. I should have taken a roommate. It wouldn't have been hard to find another adult grad student to share my house with, and it would have taken a big load off my finances if I had done it.
2. I should have tapped into my inheritance and paid my car off immediately. The biggest tipping point in my finances was when that car was paid off. $600 extra month was just like an additional part-time job!
3. I should not have been afraid of that inheritance. The admonishment I received when I was 15 was good advice at the time, but I should have learned to handle that money when I became and adult. Though I never touched the principle until I was "ready," I shudder to think how much growth I lost by letting it sit, neglected, for 16 years.

_________________
Steal what works, fix what's broke, fake the rest


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 1:59 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 10:15 am
Posts: 22
Location: Baltimore, MD
Wow! What a story. As the they say in the "land down under," good on ya mate!!


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 3:54 pm 

Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2008 7:41 pm
Posts: 3
Great story! You are so right about the "knowledge is power". It's been 20 years since my divorce. I had little debt but little else besides a 2 year old and a fairly low wage job when I got divorced. One of the first things I did was to research personal finance books and buy Jane Bryant Quinn's "Making the most of your money". I decided that no one was going to take care of me and started figuring out how to get the money that we needed. My son is now a college graduate, out on his own, earning a good living and I'm enjoying semi-retirement, outdoor activities, and a great husband. Good for you. Enjoy your debt freedom.

_________________
Chris in KC


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 7:39 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 5:20 am
Posts: 515
Location: Birmingham, AL
Sorry to hear of another marriage splitting up. Glad you have gotten on your feet. Best of luck to you!

_________________
No Debt Plan


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 4:30 am 

Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:55 am
Posts: 18
Well good for you for coming out of this one fighting. I have been educating myself about money over the last 5 years but it sounds like you had to learn a lot, very quickly and you did well.

_________________
Master Your Card - Making Your Credit Cards Work For You : Priceless.


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:08 pm 

Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:42 pm
Posts: 20
Location: Montreal, Canada
Very impressive, you are a positive example of how woman should be! Even though I'm a man!

Keep up and keep on chasing!

Blessings,

Yvens

_________________
Life is what you make it.

http://the10000thhour.blogspot.com/


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject: wow! You inspire me because thats almost my story too!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:24 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:20 am
Posts: 49
This is so inspiring! I got divorced in 2005, 3 kids, I made more so I have to pay child support (california thumbs DOWN) (even though we have 50/50). I also inherated 22K in debt.

Today I have 6K left to go, but I have had ups and downs... and i have only just now started the spartan lifestyle thing.

The thing is you made less than I did, you had a little more debt... but you did it! I can do this.

I think I may have just decided to make 2010 the last year I ever have debt.


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:11 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:52 am
Posts: 114
Good for you! This was a cool story, and I'm glad it had a happy ending.

_________________
Check out my blog! http://crimsonandclover.typepad.com


Top
Offline Profile   
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ]  Moderators: kombat, bpgui, JerichoHill, Fiscal Fitness Moderator


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group
Theme created StylerBB.net & kodeki