I usually post on Tuesdays through Fridays – it’s a schedule that seems to work with the rest of my life. The last few weeks however I’ve been dealing with some blog technical issues – they’ve been driving me crazy and it all came to a head on Monday, hence no post Tuesday. I don’t like breaking the schedule when I’m in the middle of a series – it breaks the flow so I’m sorry for this break. It was unavoidable. I’m planning on writing more about my blogging issues but today, I’d like to get back to Candace Walsh, author of Ask Me About My Divorce.
In the last post, Candace shared the sense of accomplishment that came from creating home after divorce. It came not only from turning a house into that special place called home but also from doing it with her own money. Here Candace explains why that was difficult:
When I was house-hunting, I’d walk into a house and enjoy 80 percent of it, then I’d turn a corner and there would be a big deal-breaker because the yard was two inches wide or I wasn’t able to come to an agreement about price with the seller. One house appraised at $40,000 less than the accepted offer, so that fell apart. It was probably a blessing.
If you have lots of money, everything just sort of floats along, but I was alone, on my one salary. I went from my money being extra money in the marriage to it being the only money in my life. I had to get thoughtful about what I spent money on, including the roof over our heads.
I think being mindful about money is a final point of growing up. Many women, including myself, go from being their parents’ child with their parents being in charge, for better or worse, of the money, to a post-college period where you’re just having fun, maybe you pay your bills late, there’s cocktail nights and going to France for the weekend type of thing. From there, you go into a marriage where somebody else is in charge of the money. It’s kind of a relief but there’s less control and awareness.
Then you come out the other side and you have to claim that responsibility and be able to build a future that’s solid. You have to play catch up when you’re on your own. It’s humbling. I remember one time I went out to dinner and we got a wine that was really, really, really good. I went home and decided to order a case of it. The order was delayed and in that time, I thought it was insanity to spend $300 on the wine. It was a whole case but it still was not appropriate for me to do that so I canceled the order and got my wine from Trader Joe’s.
I think my life is 80 percent richer and 20 percent poorer for being more mindful about money. There’s a certain anesthesia that comes from getting catalogs in the mail, sitting down, turning the pages and buying one or two things because you like them. Then you have the excitement of waiting for them and they come and they’re fine. But then another catalog comes and so on. I don’t really miss that – it wasn’t ever satisfying enough. There was always something else I could justify.
I honestly love having hand-me-downs from friends because I love the energy of knowing that their kids used to wear those clothes and sometimes there will be stories attached. When I give clothes to my friends, I get a warm fuzzy feeling seeing their kids wearing them.
Then there’s health insurance. I have to buy my own now and I share the cost of the kids’ insurance with my ex. My daughter was taking ice skating lessons and she’s so good at it but I couldn’t do the insurance and the lessons and I knew the insurance was more important. That is not a good feeling.
I’ll try to give those lessons back to her but in the meantime we’ve found other things that are also great, just less expensive. She does tango dancing now. It’s kind of similar and only $5 a week. I feel she still getting to explore hobbies and ice skating did have this weird competitive edge that she was noticing even though she was just seven. Tango dancing is more recreational and doesn’t lead to competing and traveling and getting up at some ungodly hour.
The Divorce Coach Says
I also went through a big financial adjustment after my divorce. I had handled the money and the investing so I was very comfortable with that. But I was transitioning careers, and wanting to work part-time so I could be around for my children when they finished school and that meant there would be significantly less. For the first time in 20 years, I actually needed a budget. I think I went a little bit too far cutting back but now seem to have found a balance.
I enjoy being more mindful about the spending decisions considering whether the item will bring lasting enjoyment or fleeting pleasure that I’ll soon regret. For the larger items, I enjoy doing the research and finding what I consider to be the product that is best suited to me at a fair price. Since my kids are older (14 and 17), I’m also trying to get them to think in these terms.
I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who’s been through divorce and come out saying they have more money. Another one of my interviewees, Sue shared how she went through bankruptcy after divorce, and today pays cash for everything, tracking her receipts in a spreadsheet. Her money issues existed long before she was married and contributed to the end of the marriage.