When I met this guy, I had a good job. I owned (at least financed) a condo, and had a time share. I had one of my many VW’s and I was independent. I didn’t need anyone to help finance my survival. I actually took a trip with him that he financed. That was fine with me, if he wanted to do that. He didn’t just kinda seduce me with his constant treats. Dinners, snacks, a trip to Mexico. Whatever…. he did seduce me. I got swept away with all this free goodies when I dated this guy. We broke up a few months after the Mexico trip in the spring of 2006.
Advance to December, 2008: He contacted me. I fell for him all over again. I will skip a lot of these details of the marriage, but the beginning was the end. The alpha and the omega. And I didn’t even realize it. I thought this was the beginning of a long beautiful marriage; we eloped in the Bahamas. He suggested I would want rings, engagement and wedding bands. YES. I wanted it all. Of course I did. I have never been married and I didn’t care about a big wedding or even a wedding dress that lasts a few hours. I wanted the jewelry that would last a life time. We talked in the Bahamas about money and our financial situation. Suffice it to say: I wouldn’t need to worry, he said. He’d handle it, he confirmed. I was elated. Everything looked good. Maybe it always looks good at T minus 4 days. So four or so days later we got married, in the Bahamas as planned. It was simple and the details are important, but not in this context. It was not all that perfect in those elopement days. I will get to that in another post in my three-part series.
We returned home. We lived an interesting existence based his income alone. I loved not working, but what I dealt with in the mean time was definitely not what I had bargained for. Let’s just say the meat of this marriage is what I am saving my memoir for. I want to share about the relationship I had with money and how its affected my relationship now as a result of this marriage. I lived in this marriage, free of gainful employment. But I worked for it. Believe me. I worked. Nothing is for free.
In 2010, I went packing. I took everything I owned in one evening. While my ex-husband claimed he was my meal ticket during those last days, I begged to differ. I lost everything that was mine and became dependent on his income because I had NO RESPECT FOR THE VALUE OF WHAT I HAD: My profession. My own income. My own belongings, in my own name. Even my own measly retirement funds. I was seduced by what he had to offer and lost sight of what I had to offer because his purse was larger. But his purse strings were tighter. I was given about 3-5 hours to frantically pack all my memories into cardboard boxes. I had already had my American Express frozen and a visa I had from the marriage rendered unusable as well. Mortifying, as this happened in a busy line at Walmart. Thankfully, I had thought to get as much money as I could out at an ATM while I still could. I packed my things and left to return to Denver, Colorado, my long time home.
Within a year, I was divorced and regained my maiden name. Within two years, my ex-husband had chosen to hold me responsible for the home we ‘bought’, even though the court agreed he had signed up to make payments. I was bankrupt within the next year.
With 3 months to go, I am looking forward to the end of my bankruptcy. As I regained footing in my chosen profession, I had a job and I filed according to my capability to repay. I have learned so many things. So much that seems cliché and obvious by theory. So much that people assume as transparent conclusions. Maybe I am slow and had to learn the hard way. Maybe I am greedy and I had to have it taken away from me back in 2009. Maybe I am all those things. But I don’t think I am the only one. I can’t be the only one seduced by a financial situation that seemed so fantastic, it was worthy of erasing any self-worth. SO yeah, I got away with living in alternative RV life style, seemingly semi- retired for less than 24 months, but I paid the price. I definitely paid the price. I sold my self worth and self-respect and pride to a higher bidder; i was seduced by shiny objects, starting with an over priced engagement ring and wedding ring, followed by an oversized SUV, etc.etc.etc.
What I learned in the last 6 years:
1.NOTHING IS FREE. EVER.
2. I can survive on way less than what I THINK I NEED.
3. I can choose to value what I have if I can learn to respect how hard I had to work to get it.
4. I can choose to be frugal, even when my pride is bruised. I learned how to cook and buy what I need, not what I have coupons for. I have learned to buy (more) whole food and avoid packaged food. This is really the cheaper way to go in the long run.
5. I can learn that one can survive in a CASH ONLY EXISTENCE; my debit visa card was a good thing to have: my bank didn’t have to give an account to a bankrupt person, but they did. This visa debit card made it much easier to use cash.
6. I MUST value what I have, even if the price tag and asset summary seems like a joke. IT’s not a joke. Its mine. And I will NEVER lose my self-worth again. I just can’t afford to.
My relationship with money has changed dramatically. While I wish i did not need to go through a divorce and bankruptcy to teach me the real value of self-worth and monetary assets, it changed the way I see everything I consume and everything I choose not to consume. I consume less so that I can have more. I buy less food so that I can feel better about my health. The benefits of my new outlook go on and on. But it’s not all about the money.
My next two installments in this series address the other perspectives changed as a result of my marriage. I know I will tend to skip big pockets of time, but those pockets are filled with other lessons, other turmoil that aren’t germane to the post at hand.
What is not covered n the three-part post series I am going to complete will be addressed in another format, to come hopefully in the next year or two.
Please comment if you can share about your experience. I would love to hear how other people have learned from financial crises and changed the way they see themselves and the way they spend/use money.