Dodging financial bullets: A tribute to my ex

I could talk for hours about my ex-boyfriend and all of the terrible decisions he made, his bad habits, and his financial mistakes. Ahhh…..so where do I begin? In order to protect the financially irresponsible, let's call him “Jack.”

The Beginning

I was about 21 when I met Jack, and we started dating. He was a little older than I was, I think about 28 or 29. After being introduced to each other through my sister, we clicked and started spending a lot of time together. Of course, I had no idea what kind of nightmare I was walking into. Honestly, it took a while to figure it out.

The truth is that he was really fun to be around. Always the life of the party, he had tons of friends. He liked to go to cool places, see new things, and enjoy whatever his heart desired at the moment. He liked to dine at the finest restaurants, see amazing concerts, and do whatever seemed fun at the time.

Financial Warning Signs

Jack loved to spend money. Whenever he got paid, it felt like the paycheck was setting his pockets ablaze. It seemed as if he needed to part himself from his paycheck as quickly as possible.

Are you prepared to dodge a financial bullet?

While he loved spending money, Jack didn't actually like working to earn it. Over the course of our two-year relationship, he had at least five or six different jobs with long spells of unemployment in between. It wasn't that he couldn't “get” a job. He was an electrician by trade, so – at the time – he could get hired if he wanted. The problem was that if he had a bad day, he would just quit. I'm serious. At almost 30 years old, if he decided that he didn't like his job, he would go home and never return.

Jack was also unable to keep track of his money. He bounced checks all the time, sometimes just by putting a fast-food meal on his debit card. He just could not manage to balance his checkbook. After bouncing a check, he would get furious – as if it was someone else's fault. “The ATM said I had $58!!!” No matter how many times I tried, I couldn't get him to understand the concept that the bank doesn't know you've written a check on your account until someone actually cashes it.

He had terrible credit, and – of course – he didn't care or understand it very well. I later found out that his family had bailed him out of credit card debt many times. Each time he would improve his credit score enough to get another credit card, he would immediately run it back up again. By the time I started dating him, his family had stopped bailing him out and decided that he was going to have to live with the problems he created. Unfortunately, as we started co-habitating, his problems were now my problems.

Saving Myself From Financial Ruin

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever gotten from anyone came to me during this time. Frustrated that Jack had quit another job, I went to talk to my mom about the situation. She listened quietly and tried not to be judgmental. Then she said something that was so obviously true that I could not ignore it. “If you stay with him, your whole life is going to be like this.” She was right. I was growing and changing, and he was staying exactly the same. I had matured a lot during the course of our relationship….and at age 30, he still hadn't. Jack was always going to be broke, living paycheck to paycheck. He would always party away everything he earned. We would always be poor and I would never be happy like this.

Fortunately, I took my mother's advice and broke it off with him. It was a huge relief knowing that I no longer had to deal with his irresponsibility and stupidity. I wanted the American Dream – a home, two kids, and money in the bank. I didn't want the worry and stress of never knowing when the next paycheck would come. I just didn't want to live that way. Luckily, I didn't have to.

Epilogue

It's been ten years now and I am friends with Jack on Facebook. I have to say that following his life online is pretty entertaining. Of course, everything my mother predicted came true. He is currently jobless and living off unemployment. He often posts photos of the concerts he is seeing or about the expensive restaurants he is eating dinner at. He's still living for today, and not saving anything for tomorrow. Recently, he even posted a picture of what must have been $1,000 worth of fireworks that he bought.

Now that I am only a spectator, I can sit back and laugh at Jack's antics. I can just shake my head and turn the computer off. I dodged that financial bullet, and I am so very happy that I did.

I did eventually find a man to marry. Not only is my husband the most amazing person I have ever met, but he also has dreams too. He is responsible and goes to work even when he doesn't really want to. I never have to worry about him frittering away our savings. We have a house, two kids, and money in the bank. Because I took my mom's advice and followed my own intuition, my dreams came true.

I learned a lot from that relationship. I realized that I wanted more out of life than a constant party everywhere I turned. I learned that you can't help people who have no intention of helping themselves. However, the most important thing I learned is that it is imperative for two people in a relationship to be on the same page about money. You have to be in agreement about saving and spending or it just doesn't work. Being in a relationship with someone who is financially irresponsible is a life sentence of stress, worry, and struggle. Who wants to live like that? I sure don't.

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Kathy M
Kathy M
8 years ago

Is J.D. completely out of the picture?

Ellen Cannon
8 years ago
Reply to  Kathy M

J.D. is on vacation until mid-October. The editorial elves are editing the site while he’s away.

Lulu
Lulu
8 years ago
Reply to  Ellen Cannon

His Twitter account says he is retiring from GRS – any plans for an official announcement?

Marsha
Marsha
8 years ago

I’m printing out your story and giving a copy to every teenage girl I know.

Leah
Leah
8 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

I could have used this as a teenager. I wish I had the gumption to break up with boyfriends (sigh) who were like this. Thankfully, I was smart enough to keep my money away from them. I think I loaned one of them a total of $500 over our relationship, and I refused to loan money to the next guy.

Holly, did you lose a lot while cohabitating? You don’t mention a lot there. Was he able to pay his share of expenses, or did those fall on you?

Holly@ClubThrifty
8 years ago
Reply to  Leah

No, thankfully! I was a very low earner at the time. We each paid our share of expenses. I was trying to dig out of my own debt while he was basically ignoring his!

LauraElle
LauraElle
8 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

Since you’re forgetting the lads, I’ll go on and print it out and give it to every teenaged guy I know. Financial mismanagement knows no gender.

The best way we can help our teenagers, of either gender, is to teach them sound personal financial management.

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago

Congratulations! (From a long time ago, but dodging a bullet and finding a perfect mate shouldn’t have a statute of limitations.)

Also, I really enjoy your blog, Club Thrifty, both your posts and Mr. Thrifty’s!

Lincoln
Lincoln
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

A few observations: (1) When I was younger, there were plenty of examples of bad relationships that you could look at and objectively say to yourself, “I hope I never get into a situation like that.” But seeing other people’s mistakes and seeing your own mistakes are not the same. (2) A great spouse can turn into a “Jack” or “Jill” over time. Labeling someone “terrible” or “wonderful” doesn’t mean it will always be so. (3) I liked the story, in part because it acknowledges that we all sometimes find ourselves in a mess without an easy solution. (4) I… Read more »

Marylynn
Marylynn
8 years ago

Oh my goodness! I could have written this story! My ex didn’t get up out of bed sometimes because he just didn’t want to go to work. If he failed a class, it was because his teacher hated him. I happened to keep the phone number we had while living together, and ten years later, I am *still* getting creditor calls for him. It took me 3 years to pay off my credit cards that I used when he couldn’t make rent, and finally, when he left me alone with the lease. I heard that phrase (“You dodged a bullet.”)… Read more »

Jennifer Gwennifer
Jennifer Gwennifer
8 years ago

I had one of these as well, but instead of deciding he didn’t like his job, he would decide that they weren’t paying him what he was worth. I kept trying to tell him that without a degree or any vocational certifications he wasn’t going to get paid much no matter what industry he was in. He spent his money on exercise equipment and “high-quality food,” because he worked out so much he had to eat twice as much as a normal person just to maintain his body mass. He did okay with money at times, but kept getting sidetracked,… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
8 years ago

I think that you clearly made the right decision to not spend any more of your life with Jack. You are obviously very different people with wildly incompatible financial styles. However, I think your assessment of Jack 10 years after, based on Facebook postings, may be wrong or at least incomplete. If he is unemployed and still spending money as if it were water those funds have to come from somewhere. If his credit is as bad as you report, either his family has gone back to supporting him or he has sources of income that you don’t know about.… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Andrew

Truthfully, that part of the post rubbed me the wrong way too. Kudos to Holly for realizing what she wanted and for making a sound decision to get out of a bad situation. I think this post has good messages about realizing you can’t make people change and the importance of finding someone who’s financial values are in line with your own.

But the part about sitting back and laughing at her ex? Not cool, IMHO.

Anne
Anne
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

I didn’t feel she was laughing at her ex. I think she was amused by his antics and adventures, and that seems to be the very reaction he craves. I don’t think she should be criticized for that.

Of course she has limited info about his current life, but her conclusions don’t seem to me to be wildly off base. He’s currently unemployed (again) and still posting pictures of large expenditures? Her guess is probably right on.

And if he is living off his parents or a rich girlfriend, how does that make her conclusions off base?

Holly@ClubThrifty
8 years ago
Reply to  Andrew

I acutally know more about his current life than is eluded to in the story. We still live in the same town several blocks away from each other and have many mutual friends. I am also friends with his wife on facebook and she periodically complains about his partying and spending habits on facebook. It is some serious TMI sometimes. I don’t feel bad for laughing at him at all. His circumstances- past and present- are by his own design. There isn’t really an point in arguing about what’s funny and what isn’t. We all find different things amusing. For… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago

For the record, I don’t envision you sitting around laughing at your ex as if you’re at a comedy club 😉 I think we all have that “phew, I dodged a bullet” feeling about someone or something in our lives.

I just couldn’t help but wonder how it would feel to be Jake’s wife, family, friends, etc, and read this post. I’m probably thinking too hard.

I think you made a smart choice and you have a lot to be proud of. Your successes stand alone without other people’s failures.

Holly
Holly
8 years ago

There is a certain amount of judgment in your post, and in your attitude towards Jack. I had my own Jack. We ended up marrying and later divorcing. (Thankfully I did protect myself from our relationship financially.) It took me a long time to realize that it isn’t fair to judge others for having different priorities and dreams, as long as no unwilling participant is getting hurt. My priority (and apparently yours too) was to have a family and a secure financial life. My Jack’s was to have a good time. His dream may have been less socially acceptable, but… Read more »

Pattie,RN
Pattie,RN
8 years ago
Reply to  Holly

Actually, one is acting like a rational adult, and the other is a spoiled child who will be eating cat food in retirement, if his lifestyle doesn’t kill him first.

Sorry, but I do not for a New York minute believe PC crud about how everyone’s choices in life are equally valuable and worthy of respect. People like “Jack” expect someone else to be responsible and clean up their messes, and the mess cleaner of last resort is social service agencies funded with taxpayer dollars.

Carla
Carla
8 years ago
Reply to  Andrew

That’s another reason why I don’t share much of my personal life on Facebook even though all of my “friends” are real people I know and relatives. The last thing I want is for someone to construct my life and make assumptions about me based on photos.

Emily
Emily
8 years ago

When I met my husband he had a LOW paying job, a bit of credit and a lot of debt. Luckily, though he enjoyed spending on his friends, he could see that it was NO way to live. I told him to call the credit card companies he had outstanding balances with and a) ask for lower interest and b) ask for a payment plan (since most of them had been closed by the banks and he wasn’t in a position to pay them off individually). He took it one step further and sat down with his friend who knew… Read more »

Holly Thrify
Holly Thrify
8 years ago

How amazing that you were able to listen to your mother’s insight.

Compatibility is more than just chemistry–it’s the ability to work toward a common goal. I think being financial compatible is as important as being on the page as having children or deciding on the number of children.

Few folks change or will change their bad habits. If they can’t do that before you commit–walk away.

mike crosby
mike crosby
8 years ago
Reply to  Holly Thrify

Yeah, actually listened to mom when it counted.

The day before my first marriage my mom just casually said, “you know you can still change your mind”.

God, if there was one time I ever listened to my mom, I wish it was then. But I was too weak. Saving grace was that we got divorced after a year. I see friends keep stringing their marriage along though terribly unhappy.

Laura
Laura
8 years ago

I had a “Jack” in my life too, fortunately not for long. He’s a FB friend and I read about the next good time he’s chasing, usually with another woman who’s not his current partner. I agree that those in a relationship need to be on the same page about money, but this one is easier said than done. Partly opposites attract: my DH is grateful I can manage our budget and pay the bills, and I’m grateful he keeps me from getting into a rut and never enjoying life. Mostly though, while we’ve both changed over the years in… Read more »

soledad
soledad
8 years ago

is it just me or is saying that someone will never change kind of naive? this whole article rubbed me the wrong way.

Claire
Claire
8 years ago
Reply to  soledad

Totally agree. The lesson of the story is valid, but the way it was told is immature and out of line. Not your place to judge and ridicule a person who isn’t a significant part of your life and hasn’t been for years. You learned a lesson, fine good for you. But to publicly make value judgments of someone else for their choices…not cool.

BD
BD
8 years ago
Reply to  soledad

Actually, it’s more naive to think people WILL change. I had to learn this the hard way, and it ended up ruining my entire life. The “Jack” in my life always promised he’d change. He really tried, too. He just couldn’t, and it ended up leading to our divorce. He’s now 47, close to homeless, is thousands of dollars in debt, and has about 1 month in savings. He’s a wonderful guy, but he just can’t change. It’s more likely that people won’t change. Success stories of people managing to change are far more rare than the ones who cannot.… Read more »

Barb
Barb
8 years ago

Honestly, the whole post seems rather mean-spirited.

Pattie,RN
Pattie,RN
8 years ago
Reply to  Barb

Oh noes!!!

Jack may read this (fat chance) and get his FEELINGS HURT???

OMG!

That is absolutely the worst thing in the world that can happen to a human being…

Jacob
Jacob
8 years ago

I absolutely did not think the post was mean-spirited. I thought it was a story that was very entertaining to read and had me nodding my head at the people I know who are the same way. Thanks so much for the post.

AmyP
AmyP
8 years ago
Reply to  Jacob

It’s mean-spirited–unless you are the reader who needs to wise up and realize that their relationship is a potential financial trainwreck. I confess here that I am a reformed spender. I eventually saw the light after reading and listening to Dave Ramsey. The big thing for me was realizing that our current financial situation was as good as it was going to get and that a house downpayment was not going to materialize out of thin air. My problem had been that for years, I was thinking that current debt didn’t matter because we were going to have more money… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

I could have written this post – I was a 21 year old woman and my my 28 year old ex girlfriend (let’s call her Nancy) was an absolute train wreck when it came to money. We lived together for a year and a half and it was my first experience living away from my childhood home. Nancy would regularly float bills, which made me freak out. She once cost us $44 for a gallon of milk – a master overdrafter. After she spent the rent money ($600, due in 2 days!) on a new $450 cell phone and accessories,… Read more »

Troy
Troy
8 years ago

To be frank: I think he is the lucky one. He is happy it seems, lives his life his way, seems to have fun, and prob doesn’t give a crap what you think. He has a flexible work life, obviously enough to survive and buy non-necessities, and doesn’t take himself so seriously. He acts like a kid, takes life as it comes, and doesn’t have a master plan. That is a compliment. The poster on the otherhand seems judgemental, spends a bit too much time following her ex, seems to get joy and laugh at what she thinks he should… Read more »

Pattie,RN
Pattie,RN
8 years ago
Reply to  Troy

Look up the subtle difference between “child-like” and “childish”.

Jadzia
Jadzia
8 years ago
Reply to  Pattie,RN

Sing it, sister!

Holly@ClubThrifty
8 years ago
Reply to  Troy

Being perpetually unemployed does not equal a “flexible work life!” And the reason that he always had some money was because he made sponging off of other people into an art form- family, friends, me, the government, anyone. You’re right about a few things. He definitely doesn’t care what I think, nor did he ever. You’re also right that he probably feels as if he dodged a bullet with me. Afterall, he saw me as a fun-hater because I wanted him to be go to his job, pay bills, and take care of the other responsibilities that most adults take… Read more »

Tracy (the other one)
Tracy (the other one)
8 years ago

:applauds and holds up lighter:

Pattie, RN
Pattie, RN
8 years ago

*flickering*

…and cheering.

Laura
Laura
8 years ago

Amen, sister!

Kathy
Kathy
8 years ago

Going through the posts, I find myself a little flabbergasted. I didn’t get mean-spirited from the post at all. I got “I’m glad I listened to myself”. I think the whole point of the article is that all we can control is ourselves and, even if you want to save someone, you can’t unless they want to save themselves. Don’t forget, she probably poured a lot of emotional energy into trying to help Jack. There is a certain amount of catharsis in seeing what could have happened if you’d kept at it. Anyway, the whole reason I decided to post:… Read more »

BD
BD
8 years ago
Reply to  Kathy

The people who found this mean-spirited probably never had been married to a “Jack.”
I have been married to a “Jack”, and this post is very far from mean-spirited. It is a good warning for people who see the world through rose-colored glasses. I wish I could have read it *before* I ever said “I do”.

Sarah @ 60kproject.com
Sarah @ 60kproject.com
8 years ago

Very insightful and encouraging that you were able to “see the light”, so to speak, and realize that this financial behavior could affect you in the future. I think the Aha! moment is one of the first steps in changing your financial path. Maybe you should thank your ex for providing that. 😉

And kudos to Mom! Great advice!

John
John
8 years ago

I liked your story, but I don’t understand why all of the pressure for achieving the “American Dream” is on the guy.

Did the author contribute significantly to the house or the money in the bank that she currently enjoys? Or did she go the route of many attractive women, parlaying her looks into finding a successful husband?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t use all of your assets to your advantage, but if I was looking for a woman, I’d be making sure that she could contribute to that dream as much (or more) as me.

AmyP
AmyP
8 years ago
Reply to  John

You’re reading a lot into this post that isn’t there, aren’t you?

The problem with her ex was not that he wasn’t providing her with a nice lifestyle, but that he was enjoying a nice lifestyle that he wasn’t earning and that neither of them could afford.

butterbean
butterbean
8 years ago
Reply to  AmyP

Yes, Amy, you hit it exactly right with the problem with the ex. Neither one of them could afford the nice lifestyle. If Holly was the major wage earner, and didn’t mind that Jack didn’t work, that would be one thing. I think her mother’s advice was completely on point. BTW I have 3 female friends who have stayed married to Jack-type men for many years. One guy went from hit-or-miss employment to solid cocaine addiction. Another was finally diagnosed as bipolar, after making a giant spending binge on their home equity line of credit to the tune of $60,000.… Read more »

Carla
Carla
8 years ago
Reply to  John

“I’m not saying you shouldn’t use all of your assets to your advantage, but if I was looking for a woman, I’d be making sure that she could contribute to that dream as much (or more) as me.”

Not to go too far OT, that statement has me curious…

Lynette
Lynette
8 years ago

Communication with your partner is very important. You mention one of the times Jack quit his job and then you went to talk to your Mother about the situation. Did you talk about your feelings with Jack? or did it just get to the stage where you had talked to him about it so many times that he just refused to listen and you go frustrated and never wanted to bring it up again? You also mention wanting to live the “American dream”, but don’t exactly make it clear that you had communicated to Jack that this is what you… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago

Copying from above:

Reminder: This is a story from one of your fellow readers. Please be nice. After more than a decade of blogging, I have a thick skin, but it can be scary to put your story out in public for the first time. Remember that this guest author isn’t a professional writer, and is just learning about money like you are. Henceforth, unduly nasty comments on readers’ stories will be removed or edited.

Krose
Krose
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

I agree that rude and nasty comments are unwarranted. However, saying that the post seemed unkind is not a comment that should be deleted. I did find this post to be unkind, and it seemed judgmental. It seems she made wise choices in her life, and for that she should feel proud. However, it reads unkind to me because she has presented in her success in contrast to his. Personally, I would find that unkind if someone compared me to them and said essentially said how much better off they were now/in comparison to me, and I dare say most… Read more »

Anne
Anne
8 years ago
Reply to  Krose

Oh, come on. Seriously, guys. We ALL compare ourselves to others and usually think we’re doing better. Nobody knows exactly who this guy is and pretty much all of us would think he was a loser if we knew him personally. She made it clear that he spent money he didn’t have year after year. That is exactly the kind of values we claim we do not admire. You are telling her not to be so judgmental, yet you are judging her. When did it get to be okay to be irresponsible about money? I’m all for judging those kind… Read more »

Rosa
Rosa
8 years ago
Reply to  Anne

in this case it seems like comparing against a possible future self she didn’t choose.

Though maybe it’s just because I have a Jack in my past too – who is still sponging off women who are still the age I was before I grew a spine and let him go, even though it’s been 10 years.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Anne

Ah, we could go around in circles! We’re being criticized for criticizing a blog post which criticizes someone? (I’m not one of the ones who takes it to extreme – perhaps you notice that I compliment her more than I critique her work?) Everyone makes judgments. How — and how — far we spread these judgments is another story. Writers and editors have to be especially careful about that, and Holly is a writer promoting her blog here. I think we all have to strike a balance between trying not being judgmental and speaking up about things we don’t think… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
8 years ago
Reply to  Anne

Elizabeth- For the record, I never said that I thought people were being overly critical of me. I make a habit of saying what I think all the time. Sometimes people like it and sometimes they don’t and I am perfectly willing to accept the consequences either way. I write my blog and anything else the way that I want to and I don’t pay much mind to negative comments. I also don’t try too hard not to offend anyone- mostly because I think it’s impossible. I have found all of the comments entertaining and interesting and I am not… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  Anne

http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/when-will-it-end/

I don’t read Honey Smith’s posts, but in any case, she’s getting paid for them. One reason I like the weekly readers posts is that I don’t have to read nastiness in the comments. Usually.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Anne

@Holly – figured you did 😉 I was responding to those who think we should handle you with kid gloves. I agree that there’s no need for anyone to get nasty, but most creatives types I know can deal with constructive criticism of their work — and even welcome it. (Doesn’t mean we always agree with it, of course!) I’m curious to read your blog now. @Nicole – I do agree with you (cute post, btw!) I do think people can disagree and debate without being nasty, and there’s been a lot of nastiness in the comments and a fair… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  Anne

@Elizabeth

Totally agreed. There’s a big difference between say, comment 45 (getagrip) here (which politely makes some good points) and the personal attacks.

Krose
Krose
8 years ago
Reply to  Anne

Anne-I didn’t tell her not to be so judgmental. I merely commented that comparing yourself to another person, finding them wanting, and then commending yourself on dodging a financial bullet is itself judgmental. I also didn’t imply that other people shouldn’t do this. I merely said that it makes people feel badly, and that perhaps you shouldn’t verbalize it/write entire blog posts on it. Clearly people compare themselves all the time. However, is that how you TRULY define success?? At the end of the day is it about being better then others? Or about being satisfied with one’s own achievements,… Read more »

Grad Student
Grad Student
8 years ago

Congrats on getting out when you needed to, and listening to your mother when you should! On the flip side of the man in your story, the man in mine learned from his mistakes and changed his ways. When I met my husband, he had a pile of unopened bill collections, a part-time job that didn’t use his degree, and a broken-down car. People who cared about me warned me to stay away, but I saw the good in him. Some people are ready to change, and just need some help and hope. Some people aren’t going to change –… Read more »

Kathy
Kathy
8 years ago

I’m curious as to Holly’s career other than “wife, mother of two..” and what percentage of income she contributes to the overall household income and assets.

If none, then this post is very baseless and judgmental. Shame on Jack for not being able to provide the lifestyle that your husband does.

Holly@ClubThrifty
8 years ago
Reply to  Kathy

I don’t know where in this post anyone can deduct that I do not work….but I will answer since you asked. While my husband finished college, I worked several jobs nonstop in order to keep him afloat and to pay cash for our wedding so we didn’t start our marriage off with debt. I have worked full time during our entire relationship(40 -50 hours per week) and contribute about 40% of our annual income. The only times I have not worked are during my two ten week maternity leaves for our two children. Not only do I earn a nice… Read more »

Ash (in US)
Ash (in US)
8 years ago

I think we seriously need a ref in the comments. What is up lately with all of the mud-slinging and muck-raking?

DreamChaser57
DreamChaser57
8 years ago

Entertaining post, light and enjoyable read. I can empathize with the author. I narrowly escaped a “Jack.” I recall being a young woman and considering whether or not I should co-habitate with my then beau. He excitedly told me that with both our incomes we could buy a Cadillac Escalade! My heart sank because I endeavored to go to graduate school and was willing to sacrifice short-term for that dream. We once had a vicious argument because I tried to passionately impress upon him that he did not need to get his tax refund, via Rapid Refund because he had… Read more »

Tall Bill
Tall Bill
8 years ago

It was my Late Uncle who got through to me. Took his advice & WOW – doing aok 30 years later.

I can’t count on 10 fingers classmates and friends over the years who are in real trouble now walking away from morgages, moving to avoid the pitfalls while nearing retirement that isn’t there, etc.

Well done Holly! Carry on!!!

Candace
Candace
8 years ago

Good story Holly!
I think you were a very bright young lady!

So many young adults just starting life out would have ignored your mother’s statement, “If you stay with him, your whole life is going to be like this.” Most young people I know would think “they could be the one to change him or things would change in the future”. Sounds like you took off those rose colored glasses just in time!

Michelle @ See Debt Run
Michelle @ See Debt Run
8 years ago

You’re a smart girl, Holly! Unfortunately, puppy love can turn even the smartest people into total puddles incapable of making good decisions. It sounds like your mom really helped you through this one, and it’s a good thing she did. Now, it sounds like you’ve found someone on the same page as you financially and otherwise, and are very happy together because of this. I don’t think that debt or lack of a large salary are reasons not to stay with someone who is otherwise perfect for you, but it doesn’t sound like he was unlucky–it sounds like he was… Read more »

Helene
Helene
8 years ago

Ow. That’s some painful judgement towards your ex. Remember that it takes all kinds…both the fun party people and the stodgy american dream types. If you’re going to dredge up the past, why not instead kick yourself for being stupid enough to move in with this guy? There’s a huge flock of women out there who would never even think of moving in with a guy before marriage. But you know what? Everyone has to live and learn in their own way. He might very well be saying “She’s such a dull suburban mom conformist…glad I dodged that bullet!”

getagrip
getagrip
8 years ago

What a dull world if we married our perfectly compatible spouse. Wouldn’t that basically be someone exactly like us because they would have to love all the things we did, voted the way we did, etc.? I guess then the problem would be we wouldn’t be allowed to change because then we wouldn’t be perfectly compatible anymore. We all know a “Jack” or “Jill” who spend and party and live more for now than tomorrow. We also know a “John” or “Jane” who make pennies scream and drive people nuts with their refusal to live in the now based on… Read more »

BD
BD
8 years ago

Holly,
You sure did dodge a bullet! I only wish your post had been around for me to read 17 years ago. My life would have been so much different in so many ways had I read this and heeded its wisdom.
It is very rare for people to truly change, especially if they don’t WANT to change. The “Jack” in your life sounds like he is perfectly happy doing his “thing”, and he is very unlikely to ever change.

Thank you for posting this. I hope it gets through to someone, and saves their life.

Rya
Rya
8 years ago

Very well-written, Holly! I had a boyfriend who, while not being as bad as Jack, was much like him. We were young back then – a little over twenty – and I thought loving someone enough would magically make the problems go away. It’s okay to live a little while you’re young, and at first I was okay with us “living a little”. But then things got more serious, we moved out of dorm rooms into a rented place, which was so much more expensive… and which had a very un-flexible pay date. One night, when rent was due in… Read more »

Tracy (the other one)
Tracy (the other one)
8 years ago
Reply to  Rya

YES. This post got me thinking about a comment from my mother when I was first dating. She said, “if you get serious about a romantic partner, consider the following: 1) would they be a good father? and 2) if you had a son, would you want the son to grow up emulating this man?” I thought that was a good shorthand way of stepping back and evaluating a prospective mate’s character and potential for long-term responsibility. A lot of traits that are fun in a dating partner could be problematic a long term partnership, even if you don’t have… Read more »

Genny
Genny
8 years ago

Holly,it’s wonderful to see someone who is able to take a parent’s loving advice. A little OT, but I was once out with a group of divorced middle aged people who were comparing stories. ALL of them noted that either their family did not like their future spouse or had not even really met them prior to the wedding. So, if you are contemplating marriage; if your otherwise loving families and friends do not like or approve of your spouse, you might want to take note.

getagrip
getagrip
8 years ago
Reply to  Genny

As a receipiant of “loving advice” that was more about the parent’s wishes over mine I will echo that it’s prudent to take note of families concerns but add don’t base your choice on their approval alone. I’ve seen cold in-laws warm to the spouse over time as boundries and understanding develop and I’ve seen people who claimed love for their kid’s choice of spouse become bitter and spiteful towards them when problems arose. So I’m hardly surprised that a bunch of divorced folks families played “I told you so” after things turned south. If nothing else it’s one way… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

My in-laws warmed up to me when the next brother got married and I was no longer the newcomer (and that wife got the cold shoulder until the next marriage). My father finally forgave my husband for not being my first boyfriend once we had a child.

Lydia
Lydia
8 years ago

Nice post Holly. I just had a chat with a niece who is considering marriage. She was concerned that they were compatible on all of the big things — how they viewed work and finances, as well as being on the same page regarding faith. I couldn’t be happier for them! Seems like you avoided the pitfall of being with someone who had very different views on life and trying to make it work. I have lived that life (mine was similar to the guy you were with). After nearly 20 years with my husband, we divorced. Now I am… Read more »

Juli
Juli
8 years ago

I am truly amazed at how many people are criticizing her for “judging” Jack, especially on a personal finance site like this one. Jack was immature and irresponsible when they were dating, and it certainly seems that he is in the exact same place now. Why are so many people defending him? Why is it ok that he is spending money he doesn’t have? Seriously, Holly, good for you in getting out when you did.

Pattie,RN
Pattie,RN
8 years ago
Reply to  Juli

Juli, some people don’t think that anyone, anywhere should ever be “judged” for anything.

Except, of course, those who disagree with them and their saintly non-judgemental views.

Megan
Megan
8 years ago
Reply to  Juli

Yes, thank you! I think staying with Jack would have hurt the OP in the long run. And if she had stayed with him, I bet the “You shouldn’t juuuudge him!” camp would be saying “You’re dumb to stay with him, even though you know his money problems.”

David C.
David C.
8 years ago

After ten years of mariage my loving wife began her “midlife crisis”. Side effects included becoming very materialistic and impatient with me, because I could not afford her the lifestyle she felt she deserved. She wanted to go seriously into debt to achieve her desires, totally ignoring what had once been “our” desires of a nice retirement fund. Part of this is due to her brother finding great success in his business and buying a larger house and many toys for him and his family. She is rather jealous of him and apparently suffers from Fear Of Missing Out. When… Read more »

Jen2
Jen2
8 years ago

I didn’t read this article and think it was mean. I thought it was pretty funny that she had those thoughts about her ex while reading his facebook posts. I definitely read through facebook posts and chuckle to myself about others’ decisions. I don’t respond to them, but I read and chuckle. It sounds like this was not the man for you and you were not the woman for him. He might read your posts and think similarly that he dodged a bullet because clearly you were not meant for each other. You would likely have nagged him about his… Read more »

Ely
Ely
8 years ago

A little flip side… My husband was a Jack. He was 40 when we met, a struggling actor in LA, working temp jobs, spending everything the instant he made it. Couldn’t get a credit card or even a bank account, buried in debt, living it up. I loved that fun side; my life was way too uptight and full of worry. We had a conversation about money early on, and we kept having it. He made the choice to make some changes. And, incidentally, so did I. Now he has a steady job, acting on the side, paying off old… Read more »

Matt at Healthy N' Wealthy
Matt at Healthy N' Wealthy
8 years ago

He is responsible and goes to work even when he doesn’t really want to.

A man who works when he doesn’t really feel like it? What a saint!

I’m not sure if you were being facetious or not, but that line is funny either way.

Jokes aside, I really liked this post. It’s nice to hear about someone who’s more financially irresponsible than I am (just got back from an opp-coast vaca to go to a bar and a concert). It’s also a good reminder that the finances of those around us can affect us. Thanks for the post!

Rosa
Rosa
8 years ago

Hey, you think that’s basic grownup behavior, til you live with someone who won’t (or can’t, sometimes it’s an addiction or mental health issue) do that. That makes it easier to appreciate the people who do get up and do what needs doing.

Neel V Kumar
Neel V Kumar
8 years ago

I think a lot of people are reading a lot into this post because we have all had various Jacks and Jills in our lives.

I once shared an apartment with a fellow college student and we were BOTH financially inept. Luckily I didn’t have many credit cards and couldn’t run up enough debt to ruin my life…

MIss LJ
MIss LJ
8 years ago

On the flip side, my current boyfriend had once complained to me how his ex girlfriend never wanted to spend money on anything. And while he wissn’t about spending everything he has, she just wanted to be as cheap as possible with everything. This drives home the real point of the story which is to find someone who is finacially compatible with you. When I met him, it was the first time I could talk to someone about money and believe that we were on the same page.

Lena @ WhatMommyDoes
Lena @ WhatMommyDoes
8 years ago

Wow, what a story! Aren’t you glad you were in a place to take advice from your mom?

Fran
Fran
8 years ago

I also dated a “Jack,” except he was 60 years old, and in the two years we were together, he bought a scooter, a motorcycle, and a car, plus accessories for each of his toys–all on credit, while he maintained a sailboat out of state. He felt he deserved Lasik, eating and drinking out several times a week (but always insisted we go Dutch when we went out together)–all bought on credit or his HELOC. He had nothing but contempt for his friends who retired with healthy pensions while he toiled as a high school History teacher, living paycheck to… Read more »

Rya
Rya
8 years ago

Off-topic: people only judge when they think that someone’s actions are negatively affecting other people.

Financial Samurai
Financial Samurai
8 years ago

Hi Holly, what is it about these type of men that women find so attractive early on?

Holly@ClubThrifty
8 years ago

I wish I knew! I don’t really know what I was thinking at the time…except that I thought I could change him and make him more responsible. It obviously didn’t work and I’m so glad!

Angie
Angie
8 years ago

I read this an nodded my head! I had a “Jack”. He had so much consumer debt and lived in such a fancy rental, he was always broke the day after payday… he had the audacity to laugh at my car and my cell phone (both paid in cash!) but was more than happy to mooch off me all the time (we both made the same amount)… needless to say he got the boot pretty quickly 😉

Brendan
Brendan
8 years ago

🙂 Good article.

But… I am left to wonder who is enjoying their life more. God forbid if our life is cut short in our 30s, I’d rather be Jack.

Genny
Genny
8 years ago
Reply to  Brendan

Personally, I could not ‘enjoy life’ when I was relying on other people or the government to support my full grown, competent behind. I’d rather work and pay for my own fun.

Will
Will
8 years ago

Kudou’s to holly that she’s living a life in tandem to her values, however I find her description of jack a bit condescending. The thought of being “entertained” and able to “laugh” at jack’s life because he choose concerts and choice restaurants over the white picket fences and 2.5 kids, I think reinforces this misconception that persist about life and how we’re “supposed” to live it. And I may be wrong, but it seems like holly is attempting to describe her choices about money and life as the more admirable ones.   This blog (GRS) often writes about living a… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
8 years ago
Reply to  Will

I dunno- I think that most people would look down on someone who constantly mooched off of his family…asking them to bail him out financially many times. He certainly was never hurting anyone, but he was a huge burden on society. He rarely had car insurance or health insurance. He was never saving for retirement or the future and when he inevitably gets sick or old it is society who will pick up the bill. I think it’s pretty fair to look down on all of these things. I don’t have a problem with anyone partying their life away as… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
8 years ago
Reply to  Will

I dunno- I think that most people would look down on someone who constantly mooched off of his family…asking them to bail him out financially many times. He certainly was never hurting anyone, but he was a huge burden on society. He rarely had car insurance or health insurance. He was never saving for retirement or the future and when he inevitably gets sick or old it is society who will pick up the bill. I think it’s pretty fair to look down on all of these things. I don’t have a problem with anyone partying their life away as… Read more »

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