Tag: personal story

Money: Talk About It

You meet a boy.? Suddenly everything makes sense, and you understand why people would ever consider getting married.? You marry this boy.? Before and after the wedding, over nearly two decades of wedded bliss, you discuss with the boy the potential issues surrounding the fact that you are in academics and will never make anywhere near as much as he does.? Over and over you are assured that this is fine, that he is the primary breadwinner and that he wants you to pursue your dreams of teaching and writing.

Despite being not only in academics, but in the Humanities, for goodness sake, you are pragmatic and understand the importance of having savings, retirement, etc.? Unfortunately, he does not.? However, he has an incredible job with an even more amazing retirement plan, so you don?t bring it up.

I?m here to tell you to do something about it, and do something now.? Stay on top of the bills.? Keep track of spending.? Make a budget and stick to it.? Why?? Not because he is hiding things from you (I mean, he might be, it happened to a friend of mine, but that?s a different story). Do it because this is a marriage, it is a partnership, and you should both be involved in the finances, even if he is the primary breadwinner.? Yes, even if he is the primary breadwinner.? Now, I am not talking about situations where you both keep your finances separate and agree to each pay portions of the bills. Or where one is responsible for bills x, y, and z and the other is responsible for bills a, b, and c.? This is a perfectly fine setup for day-to-day and month-to-month. (Truth be told, however, you want to be on top of it even in this situation because being married means your credit could be impacted by your spouse’s actions).

Unfortunately, my soon-to-be-former spouse is a spendthrift.? He always has been.? No matter how much he or we made, what promotion he got, what wage increases he was given as he changed jobs, we would still often come up short at the end of the month. Every now and then my credit card would get declined at the grocery store.? I consider myself fairly frugal, and watch my spending, especially when I notice money is tight. I want to make sure there is something left at the end of the month.? Still, there almost never was.? When I would ask him how this happened, it was always a vague ?you know, bills and things?.

I never did stop to look through the accounts and see exactly where everything was going, telling myself that maybe I was just miscalculating and needed to be more careful.? I?m not saying he was gambling it all away or anything.? He just doesn?t think when he spends money.? So seriously, sit down and make a budget with your spouse.? Make sure you both stick to it.? If one or the other of you can?t, then enact some kind of allowance to help keep each other in check.? This sounds harsh, and like you?re treating them like a teenager, but realistically, this is going to hurt you both in the long run if you cannot keep your spending in check.

Also, seriously, keep track of your retirement options.? Start saving early.? Save as much as you can.? I know, this is exactly the boring crap your family and econ professor told you, but I mean it.? I am 40.? I have almost no savings and zero retirement.? That?s right.? ZERO.? Why?? Because my beloved/not beloved decided to clean out his 401k or whatever it?s called and put it into a more fluid account.? Initially I agreed to this because we had a few serious emergencies that required attention, but, again, we set no parameters regarding what would happen after those particular fires were put out.? So what happened?? He just kept spending it.? Sometimes on important things, sometimes not.? And I, stupidly, didn?t ask him and didn?t keep track.? So it went from a six-figure cushion to a few thousand dollars at last look. . . but that was several months ago, so who knows what it’s at now.

You?re probably reading this, thinking, ?Holy crap?? I thought this chick was smart or something!?? Frankly, at first I wasn?t overly worried, because he had a great retirement plan with his new job, and I knew he would build it back up quickly.? And yes, I feel stupid and a bit ashamed that I let this happen, but it did, and now I have to deal with it.

So, take a leaf from my book, and be involved in your finances, especially the savings.? It?s essential.? You never know what may happen.? Your spouse may die, he or she may get injured and no longer be able to work, the industry may crash and he or she could lose his or her job, or in my case, your spouse may decide he doesn?t love you anymore, on top of being a spendthrift and you could go from thinking you have a solid cushion to retire on, when in reality, all you have is half a ply of toilet paper.

Check out our articles on?saving for the future and building an emergency fund.

This article is part of a series that chronicles the real life journey of Lillian Epps, a woman navigating a recent divorce. The stories are real. The names have been changed.?Photo by?norwood.

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Over 50 Broke and in Debt: Starting from Ground Zero

Getting Woke

I?m sure there are more people out there like me, people who woke up one day and realized that they were fucked. Over 50, broke and in debt, I’d been living month to month for years.?When I read about how to invest for retirement and see those little graphs that show how much you would have saved if you’d started socking money away years ago, I feel completely defeated.?

I?m going financially backward, and I?m getting older.

Trying to stretch each paycheck to cover childcare, your kid?s needs, the bills – you really don?t think about what you will be up against when you?re older.?I used to have a three-month whiteboard on my kitchen wall. I would faithfully update it with my son?s soccer, football and Taekwondo practices. Fees. Where he was going after school when I was at work. More fees.?I remember having to start saving in February to pay for his summer camps, aka ?childcare,? because adults don?t get summers off from work. (Why are we and our kids on different time schedules anyway?)

Then they go to college.?I tried to get him through without a student loan. I failed. That last year I cosigned a loan. It?s a huge burden for him now as he applies to law school. We chat online about how large of a loan he would need for the schools he’s interested in. We discuss how to come up with all of the application fees without him incurring more debt.?I wish I could help him, but I’m tapped out, broke and in debt.?

Save for retirement?

When you become vividly aware of your financial vulnerability, it?s like waking up to a bad dream. ?Wtf were you thinking? That you would never be old???We all truly have but two choices: get old or die.?I certainly didn?t imagine that I would be dead, so how did I fail to imagine that I would still be alive, only older … broke and in debt?

The fear. The overwhelm. You want to run away from it. To do the exact opposite of what you need to do. I froze for a long time. Deer in headlights. I had no idea where to begin. At first, it took me a while to fully accept where I was. Then it took me even longer to learn to let go of how I got there.?And when I finally started researching, I found out that I wasn?t alone.

The hardest part isn?t starting, it?s getting out of your own way so that you can.

Related Content:? Forget Retirement – Here’s Why You Need To Start Investing Now

Our Relationship with Money

Money is loaded with emotional baggage. Fear, regret, greed, angst, sensuality, illusion. Behavioral economists have been studying this for years. Apparently, when you are experiencing scarcity of any form – time, money, love – it can affect you cognitively to the extent that you can make poor decisions, decisions that increase scarcity. Scarcity mindset. It decreases your ability to plan while increasing your impulsiveness.

I have friends whose debt is greater than half their home?s value. When they get a windfall, they buy season passes to something. Or a new toy. In that same breath, they might mention how they wished they hadn?t taken that 2nd or 3rd mortgage. ?The things we could have done with that money!? These are good people, smart people! It became apparent to me that when you are used to living month-to-month, you are used to spending all of your money every month.?And this got me asking some deep questions about my relationship with money.

What is money anyway?

Digits in a ledger, with the power to dictate how we spend our waking hours. So, really important digits in a ledger. But the financial world can be intimidating. Take compound interest, for example. That thing that will definitely bleed us out if we?re broke and in debt, or could possibly multiply our money if we?re invested. While the theory itself may be simple to understand, the actual calculation is a far cry from balancing a checkbook.

The more you learn about money, the more you wake up to how crazy debt is.?Yet it’s up to me, and only me, to rid myself of any ignorance of something that has such immense control over my life, how I spend my time, where I can go, and what I can do.?I know I have baggage around money. But at this stage in the game, I also know that I don?t have time to uber-analyze why.?Because the other thing that goes with saving money is time. You need them both.?And I?m running out of time.

Related Content:? Ten Quick Ways To Make Money While Helping The Planet

Reining It In, a Bit at a Time

So, I decided it was time to learn how to crawl out of this mess. And to do this, I had to first stop freaking out about it. My odds of facing this challenge with a self-deprecating mindset were low. I tried to treat myself with compassion and forgive myself.?I had to start, somewhere.?And when you’ve been using your credit cards as a source of income, looking at your?credit card statements isn’t fun. It brings up?a flood of negative feelings. I tried my best to do it with the cold eye of a surgeon?s scalpel. Void of emotion.

I approached it like a puzzle. Like a game. Something separate from me.

First I looked for any recurring payments that I might have set up and forgotten about. Book club websites, Skype, Amazon Prime, Netflix, memberships… I canceled them all. It felt cleansing. Did I notice? At first, a little bit. Then?I stopped using credit cards completely. This took a huge change in mindset. I?d always looked at credit cards as that go-to?when something came up.

No longer could I visit my family on holidays. You search for hours to get a good price on a ticket and end up paying in interest what it would have cost you to fly first class. No longer could I buy that new thing because it was on sale.??I had to charge it but it was 20% off!? Five years later, you?ve paid double for the thing that you’d already gotten rid of two years prior. Crazy!

How I Hacked Peace Of Mind

The first rift between my emotions and money occurred when I began to see that money had nothing to do with spending. Spending was something I did. Money is just a tool. And I had some problems that only that tool could fix. If I truly wanted to get out of debt forever, I had to create a platform where going back into debt at the slightest mishap or desire was off the table.?I had zero savings. Everything always went somewhere. Why couldn?t I just leave it alone? Just let it sit there and ignore it?

I started to ignore the money in my account in the same way I had been ignoring my debt. I pretended that it just wasn?t there, and continued living as if I just didn?t have any to spend.?So far I?ve saved a couple months’ worth of monthly expenses. Ten years ago that much money would be vacation fodder. Today, I want to be alright with myself more than I want a couple weeks of hotels and airplanes and souvenirs. A vacation would be lovely but it would also set me back in time.?And I?m terrified that I won?t have enough time.?Who is going to take care of me if I get sick? The government? Ha!

My biggest fear is that I will die broke and alone in some shit apartment, and no one will know until they smell the body.

Related Content:? How To Reduce Your Tax Bill, Save For Retirement, and Save the World

Recreating My Relationship With Money

Just recently, I?ve begun to learn a bit about how to make money grow. Not by reading expensive and complicated financial books or hiring a financial advisor, but by actually doing it on a tiny scale. Nothing I can?t afford to lose. Like 25-100 bucks a month. I?ve lost nothing yet. I?m diversified?(don?t put all your eggs in one basket).?Microbalances. (Tiny amounts.)?You can see what it?s doing and learn without hurting yourself.?I started picking up part-time gigs. I stopped buying coffee and other little crap throughout the day. I bought a cheap unlocked smartphone and a budget sim to get out from underneath my ridiculous cell phone contract.

The internet can open doors for you if you use it.

The internet gives us access to free financial information. I started reading Investopedia, watching Youtube videos, investment for beginners blogs, anything. I discovered that I didn?t need some professional financial person to introduce me to the world of finance and investing, and I also learned that you don’t have to be rich to invest.

Today there are services for people just like me to learn about investing by doing it on a small scale. I started learning about?roboadvisors, fintech sites, cryptocurrency.?And then another weird thing happened. I actually became interested. The financial world was no longer a necessary evil, it was fun. Bit by bit the little pieces of financial jargon were no longer as mysterious as Chinese characters. They began to have some context.

It’s easier to play the game when you are interested in it.

Related Content: Start Impact Investing For As Little as $50 (And Get Another $50 For Free)

As I became aware of my feelings around money, angst, excitement, stress, fear, greed, desire, depression, sensuality, I tried to be mindful of them and acknowledge them without getting involved. I also began to challenge my thoughts, to get used to the discomfort of these emotions, and just sort of check them out rather than let them dictate my behavior.

I’ll be honest, it isn?t very pleasant at first. Perhaps this is why so many people pay high fees for brokers to make decisions for them so that they don?t have to get involved. But it?s getting easier. I?m learning. And the more I learn, the more I realize that I’m not alone in the struggle to extricate emotions from money issues.

I found out that even Wall Street and emotions are not mutually exclusive. I laughed out loud when I discovered that you can check the emotions of today?s market on CCN?s Fear and Greed index.? Nobel?Prize Winner Robert Shiller, professor of economics at Yale, talks about the relationships of the stock market and human emotions. He says that bubbles and crashes involve the human psyche on a mass scale. And it all makes sense. We can separate nothing from our humanness.

Money is a human creation.

Flipping The Script

  • We needn’t be?ashamed to discover that our emotions around money may have been causing us to make long-term financial mistakes. Many of us inherited weird stuff from our parents and culture around money.
  • We shouldn’t be afraid of not knowing enough about the financial world to start learning. Many of us have zero financial education. I remember having a one-off class on balancing a checkbook in Middle School. That?s about it.
  • Couple this lack of financial education with the aggressive marketing and consumerism we have been subject to from impressionable ages thereon, and you have an interesting mix of bullshit running malware through your head when it comes to managing money. My senior year in college I received countless pre-approved credit card offers after starving to death to work my way through school for years as a single mom. It was like a feast. My new consumer debt slipped right in next to my student loan. I was a good little American.
Our culture literally screams ?spend!? everywhere.

We are programmed to comply on a daily basis. A new phone. A new car. New, new, new. We need the latest iteration of everything. We have a twisted and erroneous idea of a success. It is empty. Short-lived.

We are leveraging our future for the appearance of success.

We get into debt, get out of debt, get into debt, get out of debt. The cycle is insane. And a lot of us have been doing it for a long time.

I?m intent on shattering this financial pathology.?A few more months of saving and I will be able to attack those credit card balances so I can stop the bleeding once and for all. I imagine the joy I will feel when they are gone. I know it won?t be easy. And I now know it’s going to take some time. But I can use that time to learn about how to grow the money I will get to keep after I?ve finished. And I can use that time to heal from the twisted mentality that has kept me swimming in this financial toilet bowl for years.?

I?m over 50. I’m broke and in debt. I?m at Ground Zero.

So fucking what.?It?s a mathematical puzzle game. And I?m going to learn how to play it.

The stories in Life are real. Sometimes the names are changed at the author’s request.

Send us your story if you’ve been duped, on the road to financial recovery, conquered your finances, or want to give feedback. feedback@wellwallet.com

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Poor, Rich, Poor, Millionaire: The Story of a Rebel Girl

Being a rebel isn?t easy. In fact, it?s downright hard.

I was born with an extreme distaste for anything related to schedules, authority, discipline, cultural institutions, expectations, and most of all, responsibility. I?ve always wanted freedom more than anything else, and I always figured, hey, that?s okay. The world needs every type of person, so I can fill that role. Little did I know what I was up against.

The source of all things

I was born into a seriously wacky family in the early 1970?s. Two hippie parents who did lots of drugs and dressed like Cher and Jim Morrison. My Dad took off when I was 3 because he is afflicted with the same disease that I have: rebel disease (otherwise known as a great fear of responsibility). So, I was raised by and large by my mother?s family. A huge Slavic and Italian Catholic family whose motto seems to be, ?If you?re not outdoing the Joneses, you?re doing something wrong.? They?re all very materialistic, and though super successful in their respective fields, they tend to spend way more than they make. Designer everything, big houses and fancy cars.

There?s a strange entitlement to the way they live. So much so, that one aunt has been left homeless for the last year due to her spending. Yet she still gets her hair done in salons and buys Starbucks coffee daily. 90% of them have been addicted to drugs and alcohol at some point in their lives. My mother?s best financial advice to me was, ?Marry rich!!!!!?, repeated almost daily. Thanks, mom.

Even though I had these crazy spenders teaching me financial ruin by example, luckily I also have my father?s Jewish side to thank for my natural inclination when it comes to money. Somehow my mind just automatically tracks every dollar coming in and out and I don?t even try! Yay to genetics!

Rebel girl

My rebelliousness started to show when I decided to skip class in middle school. I felt like a trapped animal in school, so I?d just go to the churchyard and look at the grave stones for a period to get some fresh air. My grades were terrible. And since my mom had this ingenious plan that I would ?marry rich? someday, she didn?t seem all that bothered by it.

During middle school, I started making art and decided that would be my future. I mean HELLO, it was perfect. Artists didn?t have to go to academic colleges and have jobs. Yuck!

My high school boyfriend encouraged me to audition for the magnet arts school he attended, hoping to score me a future. True to the genetics passed down by my crazy Slavic/Italian family, when I was interested in something, I could excel in that area. So, I got in and worked my butt off. I got scholarships to my dream art school for college and attended.

College was ROUGH. My Dad was supposed to pay for my college education but had only saved for a state school. His exact words were, ?I didn?t save for you to go to HARVARD!?. Thanks, Dad. Not that I was going to Harvard, but it was an expensive private school, so I took out loans and was left with very little money to live on. I lived in an unheated basement in a house in Baltimore. I remember being so hungry, I would steal morsels of food from the refrigerator and pray that my roommates wouldn?t notice. I made money by working at the school library, waiting tables, and selling marijuana. But I was still so broke.

Living the high life

After graduating, I was going to be an artist of course, and sell paintings for thousands of dollars and live a bohemian life. It sounded like a great financial plan to me. I hadn?t factored in the general irrelevance of art to American culture at large, and the tiny percentage of artists who actually get noticed by the art world.

I moved to Manhattan, got a job as a cocktail waitress, and started making incredible money. I was strategic about working at the trendy, celebrity filled hotels and clubs. Many nights I would go home with $1,000, all made in one night! I rented a painting studio in Brooklyn.

Then, it happened. I was at work and saw this guy. I remarked to my fellow waitress that I was going to marry him. And I did. He was a rock star. Well, he looked like a rock star anyway. He was dressed in a beautiful Armani suit and his hair was bleached blonde and longish and crazy. It was love at first site.

At 23 I had it all. My partner-in-crime musician husband (who made $10 an hour at a bicycle shop), a 3-bedroom apartment with Jacuzzi bathtub, music and art studio, right by the Empire State building. I was painting on my time off. I was off work and sleeping when all the other suckers in town were going to work bleary eyed. I treated my husband to extravagant meals at the best New York restaurants. We?d dress up and go to the fanciest hotel bars like the King Cole bar at the St. Regis and pretend we were famous. My husband?s band had shows in the best downtown clubs. We were doing tons of drugs. Weed, ecstasy, coke, and my favorite, heroin. I was always careful to ?chip? heroin. Basically, that meant to binge once a month to avoid getting addicted. No problem! I had been doing that through college, I was too smart to be a junkie. We were outdoing the Joneses in every way and living my dream rebel life. And I was financing it ALL. Even the $5,000 I had managed to save to buy a house with someday, I lent to my husband for the printing of his first album.

Losing it all

But, as the restaurant business goes, mine was falling out of favor with the celebrities after a few years of glory. My income dropped significantly and we were forced to move way uptown into a much smaller apartment. Then 9/11 happened and we got into a major depressive funk. My husband decided to ignore my rule of not calling the drug dealer when you run out of heroin, and we ended up with a never-ending supply of it in the house. We had both become addicted.

The one lucky part of this time was that I was ?discovered? by an art director who worked at one of the biggest magazines in the country. She was a customer at the bike shop and loved the flyers I had designed for my husband?s band. She hired me to be her assistant and taught me the basics of graphic design. I was working in the famous Time & Life building. It was extremely uncomfortable for me to be in a corporate atmosphere. But hey, at least I could feel good knowing that I was a heroin addict and therefore not that uncool! I did very well hiding my addiction. At this point, waiting tables was no longer an option. I had a full-scale panic attack when I returned to my nightclub job after September 11th. I just couldn?t do it anymore.

Soon we were in dire financial straights. I was paying for food with a credit card and cash for heroin. We were running out of money and something had to give. I made my husband see a doctor who gave us withdrawal medication and we kicked our heroin habit and moved up to the country to a sad looking house that we could actually afford.

My husband continued to spend just as my mom?s family does. Eventually, I got tired of being destitute and kicked him out. During that time I borrowed a down-payment on a house from my parents and purchased a home in the Hudson Valley. After a year, my ex-husband was promoted to manager of the bike shop and was making good money, so stupidly, I took him back. But within a few months he filled our garage with motorcycles and leased an Audi without my consent. He also became an abusive alcoholic which is why I finally left him for good.

My life was in financial shambles at that point. I was over $20,000 in debt. I had rented out my house and moved to yet another basement in a house that was very sad. I continued to work as a graphic designer and took a full time job at a huge newsstand title as an art director, so I was digging my way out slowly.

My self-esteem was so down in the dumps that I dated one loser after another and they all treated me like crap and used me. I started drinking heavily and would find myself on many occasions alone in my house on the bathroom floor crying over the fact that I was near 40 and alone and basically broke. One too many of these situations and I had hit a rock bottom of sorts and realized that I?d better get it together and start making smart decisions.

Finding my way back

Cue my old friend from college who contacted me on LinkedIn and started talking to me. This guy was the exact opposite of me. He was ?normal?. He had a good, steady job straight out of an Ivy League university and had money saved! He was nice to me. He was more than nice to me, he cared about me.

To my mom?s great glee, during this time I was dating a multi-millionaire hedge fund guy. I mean MULTI, like close to billionaire, and he was somewhat famous in New York. But after a couple of dates it was clear that he was just like all the other guys I had dated and was waving all kinds of red flags that I recognized all too well.

Also during this time, I was about to have surgery to have my gallbladder removed. I emailed 3 guys: my ex-husband, the multi-millionaire and the old college friend, to let them all know about my surgery. From my ex-husband: basically nothing. From the multi-millionaire: ?call me when you?re feeling better?, from the college friend: ?I googled this and it looks like it isn?t too bad of a procedure, will someone be there with you??.

I was in love. I dumped the multi-millionaire and ended up marrying the college friend. This was the first non-rebel decision of my life and probably the best one ever.

We married and moved to Paris for his job. He helped me pay my parents back all the money I owed for my house. We rented my house out and traveled the world. Even though we both made good money (I had started a graphic design business from home), we weren?t rolling in it. But because we had no expenses due to our expat status, we saved an incredible amount of money. We?ve traveled the world and stayed in the most amazing 5 star hotels and lived in the most beautiful homes paid for by his company. It?s almost the rock star life, but without the drama!

So this is the happy ending, right??? No.

Looking over the cliff again

The rebel girl returned and now in the form of an alcoholic. I hid it really well. I had very few consequences and drank often in the middle of the night so my husband wouldn?t see me drunk. When he?d go away on trips, I would be drinking from morning until night. When I drank around my husband I became nasty.

I realized that I had to do the next right thing and quit drinking. I had to sit my rebel side down and have a long talk with her. Look, I said, we can?t go on like this. We must find moderation or we are going to end up broke and alone, again. So she agreed to go to AA. We have managed to find a balance by working at home and on our own schedule and terms, but also making each day totally different from the last to keep us happy and feeling free. I?ve learned that no is a complete sentence and that acceptance is the key to happiness, not wanting what you don?t have.

The next right thing

I now have a hefty retirement fund (what?!) and we have a second home and invest in the stock market (whaaaaat?!). We are technically millionaires (not like that other guy, but technically). We?ve done it by saving, saving, saving and budgeting and always spending less than we make. I?ve learned all of this from my current husband. I drive a 6 year old used Volkswagen (that I love) and we have a modest house in a nice part of our city. It?s exhilarating knowing that I will be okay for retirement and can live within my means and still have wealth.

I suppose the point of my story is that even a rebel can find financial stability by realizing that balance and moderation are key. It applies to everyone and everything. As I?ve learned in AA, doing ?the next right thing? takes you to great places, always. And being a ?rock star? isn?t all that it?s cracked up to be.

Kate Jett is a pen name for a creative professional living a new life in the northeast. The stories are real. The names have been changed.

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When Your Perfect Marriage Becomes A Shambles…

?…and your financial stability is built on a fault line.

Does anyone remember the earthquake that shook the East Coast from Georgia to Massachusetts in 2011?? The one where the epicenter was in Virginia?? Everyone was shocked, except those who knew that Virginia (and the East Coast in general) is on a major fault line.? Apparently, so was my marriage, and, incidentally, my finances.

You go from being happily married, thinking you are financially stable, planning on buying an amazing house with your husband, to living in your sister?s guest room, having fled your home and friends because your husband has fallen out of love with you.

On top of it all, the stress of trying to save a marriage that you didn?t know was already in ashes nearly killed you.

So now what?? You have to deal with the emotional trauma of what you thought was an amazing marriage falling apart. You have zero retirement options.? Why?? As someone in academics, you have never had a full-time job in your entire life.? And, you?re 40.

Facing the facts

When I arrived at my sister?s house, one of the first things we talked about (and everyone talked with me about), was money.? How am I going to feed, clothe, and shelter myself?? What am I going to do about retirement?? What am I going to do about health insurance?? This was incredibly stressful to me.

There were some days when I just couldn?t take it and would burst into tears (again). Otherwise, I would just say that I wasn’t able talk about this right now, and walk away.

Well, now I am several months away from the initial split. Finances are something that need to be discussed and figured out.? Yes, I will be getting ?maintenance?, which is the same as alimony. But that is only for a few years and I will be taxed on it. That means it’s not as much as it seems.

Then there is the issue of retirement.? I am entitled to half of our assets.? I was thinking, ok good, this will be helpful. He?s had a 401k for a while.? Guess again, honey.? At mediation I found out there was less than $10,000 left in that account.? $10,000.? That’s a good amount for a basic savings account, but that is NOTHING when it comes to being able to retire, like, ever.? How did this happen?? Well, that’s a story for another day.? The point is, I have ZERO retirement set up, because Social Security is also a joke.

Financial security?? What the hell is that?

Now I have to start getting my ducks in a row, not only because he never did, but because I no longer have that joint income.? I will admit that I am afraid and somewhat ashamed to go to a financial planner for help.? Why? The state of my finances is abysmal.

You know how people avoid the dentist because they don?t want the dentist to give them a hard time about not flossing?? This is how I feel about going to the financial planner.

I am going through the worst time in my life, and I really don?t want to hear about how I should have done a better job with money.

Will a decent person/financial planner (I?m hoping that?s not an oxymoron) shame me to my face?? I hope not.? Hopefully, at worst, she will roll her eyes internally, while smiling and comforting me, and telling me that it will be tough, but doable.

I am absolutely terrified that I will be told that I will never be able to retire unless I somehow get a serious job in the near future.? The other unappealing option being that if I do retire, ever, I will be on food stamps and supplementing my ?income? by teaching Tai Chi at the community center indefinitely.? Nothing wrong with teaching Tai Chi.? I do teach it already, but I don’t want to have to do it in order to be able to buy food.

Just like Gloria Gaynor: I will survive

But here?s the reality.? It is the same as the dentist.? The sooner you go, the sooner, yes, you may get bad news, but the sooner you can start planning.? True, it is possible you will have the financial equivalent of getting your gums scraped in that first visit.? However, the earlier you know where you stand, the faster you can start working toward some semblance of financial stability.

So suck it up, Buttercup.? My life blew apart this year, despite doing everything in my power to keep it together.? I may not have any control over the direction my marriage went, but at least I can gain control over my financial future.

This article is part of a series that chronicles the real life journey of Lillian Epps, a woman navigating a recent divorce. The stories are real. The names have been changed.?Photo by?Jonat?n Becerra

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