Rebuilding Your Life After Divorce: Freedom Costs a Lot

Everything you thought you had has gone up in flames.

This was actually going to be a post about the rapidly approaching likelihood of insolvency. Insolvency is also known as going bankrupt or ‘going bust.’ But as I stood in the kitchen thinking of how I’d gotten to this stage, I remembered what started the whole shooting match.

It was while having this internal dialogue with myself that I remembered that, despite my current predicament, credit cards have always been good to me. I’ve worked hard all my adult life to get a good credit rating. Credit has allowed me to do and own many things.

My first house, cars, furniture, and when money got very tight, eat. I’ve used them to pay bills so my family didn’t freeze to death in the winter or starve in the summer. I felt like these ‘magical’ cards had saved me more than once from my family getting thrown out into the streets.

I was satisfied that I ran the cards. They did not run me.

Then the late summer of 2010. Things had been ‘over’ for a very long time. I won’t go into the reasons or who might or might not be to blame. The bottom line was simple. We were through.

After one night of staying in the house my ex-wife and I shared together, she stayed God knows where and my daughter stayed with a friend, I packed a couple of bags and left.

Do you have any room? I’ve run away from home.

I went to the closest hotel near my old home. I went into the reception area and asked if they had any vacancies. The lady looked doubtful and  began to check her computer. They did have one room left and unfortunately it would only be for one night.

She smiled at me and asked, “Is your visit for business or pleasure?”

“Neither,” I replied. “I’ve just run away from home and I have no place to stay.”

The reception lady smiled again and said, “Let me see if I can get you some rooms for tomorrow on, then.”

Despite her best efforts, the town I lived in and it’s surrounding area did not have one spare room open. Not in that particular branch anyway. I went into my room and took advantage of the internet service and immediately started my search for a place to live.

What followed was a whirlwind of a week that involved work, looking for and finding hotels that had vacancies and moving from one hotel to the next. My daughter joined me and we shared rooms for just over two weeks. We stayed in some very nice places and some not so nice places. Regardless of the nice factor of the hotel rooms, they all had one thing in common. They were expensive.

I never learned why the hotels in my area were so full those two weeks in September of 2010. There really is nothing of consequence for folks to flock here to see. I’m still baffled by the whole thing.

I took the credit cards with me as my soon-to-be-ex-wife had money at her disposal, I did not. I told her that I would take responsibility for the money already owed on the cards. My first big mistake. The money owed was soon joined by the costs of hotel rooms, food, petrol and replacing things I no longer had access to. On top of that, the internet that was so vital for my search of a more permanent place to stay was quite expensive.

Someone was definitely looking out for me and my daughter though. Because I found a flat to live in about the midway point of my fleeing my previous life. So after two weeks I had my first new home.

Please don’t watch the video all the way through, I only put it up because I couldn’t find a picture of my first new home.

While I was working, finding a flat, moving and trying to ‘carry on regardless’ I found myself going through the motions in a sort of fugue state. Above everything else, I had to be there for our daughter who was still attending university and needed to move again.

The items I needed all came out of the credit cards. Cash for my deposit and the first and last month’s rent. The eight new tyres that I needed to replace because the ‘flat fairy’ visited me often that first year. Paying for items I needed replaced because, apart from the electric items, my clothes, books, dvds, and some files, the only other thing I left with was the existing debt on the cards.

Credit cards also paid for my divorce, easily the least expensive thing I had to purchase that year.

I further added to my scarily increasing mountain of debt by going back to America for the first time in 21 years. My daughter and I both needed the break and there were family members that she had never met. Plus the last time that we were there she was all of nine months old and didn’t remember the family she had met.

Eating a childhood favourite, shaved ice aka ‘the snow cone.’ En-route to my parent’s farm.

The added allure of ‘going home‘ included seeing my son, who I had not seen since 1996 and this was the first chance he had to meet his sister.

Of course while we were there the cards took a further hammering. Motel rooms, Silver Dollar City, and Dallas helped to increase my debt.

Everything spent was worth it. For the first time ever, I had both of my ‘kid’s’ together and it was, sadly, very brief but so satisfying. We came back home and settled back into our new life.

The flat which was so comfy for one person, started getting claustrophobic for two. A mate at work mentioned a house that was for rent and we took it. More expense for the card as I had to use them to make another deposit.

But we now had a garden (that’s yard if you’re from the other side of the pond) and more importantly room!

Our new gardens first snow.

While all this was going on, my daughter and I continued our ‘normal’ life. Work and living. We both still are a little shell shocked by the divorce. We are also trying to come to grips with a few mental and personal issues.

We both suffer from trust issues. We’re both also trying to find out who we are again. It seems that in the shuffle we’ve lost a bit of ourselves.

I don’t know if we’ll ever find all of what we’ve lost or misplaced. But apart from the ups and downs of everyday life, we are still looking.

You can rebuild your life after having 25 years of your life suddenly changed forever and gone in the blink of an eye.

I will say the the journey of self discovery is not over yet. For me or my daughter. The journey so far has been painful, sad, unfocused and sometimes fun.

I stayed in a situation that was miserable for all concerned for far too long. Mainly because of money. I didn’t think it was financially affordable to leave a bad relationship. I now know that you can do it. It has for me been costly, too costly for right now. But I’ll hang in there and get hold of the right people to help me out of the mess I’ve inadvertently gotten myself into.

It seems I was right about it not being financially possible. I did find out though that it’s not about the money or the debt you find yourself trying to manage. It’s not even about the money mess that you wind up in. It’s about escaping and finding your freedom and you. And of course about straightening up the debt.

So, until I  get out of this mess, I’ll continue rebuilding. And along the way I’ll find out new and forgotten things about myself. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some discovering to do.

To infinity and beyond!

Money

Credit Card
Credit Card (Photo credit: 401K 2012)
Money seems to be a problem for everyone these days. The entire world is gripped by economic woes and it doesn’t seem to be easing up for anyone. There is a global tightening of the belt going on that is causing widespread discontent and most of this “belt-tightening” appears to be of the “knee-jerk” variety.

The cause of these economic woes all depends on who you talk to. Economists and financial “experts” all have differing opinions as to who or what is to blame. There is an awful lot of finger pointing going on, with too many suspects to choose from. I think that even Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot would have difficulty finding the guilty party.

I do know that economists have warned for years that the world has been heading for financial meltdown.  It is abundantly clear that they were right.

I personally feel that everyone is to blame. I can see you shaking your head now. “Oh, no.” You say. “I haven’t contributed one iota to this abysmal mess!” No? I beg to differ. I’ll explain.

When I was growing up, it was very important to “live within your means.” In a nutshell, that means living within your salary. There are and were exceptions to that “rule.” Buying a house, for example, put you firmly in debt. This was acceptable though as it was deemed a necessary part of living.

In those far off days of my youth it was a lot harder to get credit. If you wanted to buy an expensive item you put it on lay-a-way, or as the English call it, the HP. Folks had credit cards back then, but, they were a little bit wiser in how they used them.

Now it is a lot harder to “live within your means.” Mainly because of leisure time. We have more time for leisure activities than ever before in the history of man. Don’t think so? Well we do. We as a people work less hours per week than ever before. We also have more things to do in our off work time. That combined with the new “must-have” gadgets and toys make all this spare time an expensive deal.

We all “need” laptop computers (or home computers), games consoles, flat-screen High Definition (HD) or 3D televisions. DVD players to play these HD or 3D films. Every household has multiple cell or mobile phones with the expense that involves. Folks are relying more on their gaming consoles for exercising and inter-acting socially with their families. We use computers and their bastard cousin the internet to do a lot of things that used to be done the old fashioned way.

Everyone wants to buy new things.  The number of second hand shops has dwindled alarmingly. It is just too easy to get “fast” credit and purchase new things instead of used.  We all seem to have an inbred desire to buy bigger and better things. We’ve stopped just keeping up with the Joneses, we’re all now striving to outdo them.

We are not the only ones guilty of this financial “snow-balling” getting so far into debt that we’ll never climb out. It’s the governments as well. Governments go into enormous mountains of debt for things ranging from bigger and better bomb and space exploration, to funding silly research programs.

I’m not wagging my finger at anyone, mind you. I’m just stating the obvious as I see it. I’m just as guilty as the next person of living beyond my means. It happens sneakily, you know. One day you’re balancing everything nicely – if a bit manically – and the next thing you know, you’re buried in a huge amount of bills.

Because, let’s face it, we all like this new lifestyle we lead. And as parents we want little Billy or Suzy to have the latest gadgets and gizmo’s that are out there. Just as we or our governments do.

Money may not be the root of all evil, but it is definitely a close relation and one that is going to be a problem to everyone for a long time yet. I remember once in school a teacher stated that in the future it would be hard to keep everyone occupied when they weren’t working. His theory was that so many things would be automated that  people would have a lot more spare time.

He just never mentioned how much money we’d be spending on this new-found spare time. He also never mentioned that money would be in such scarce supply.

leisure world luton
leisure world luton (Photo credit: osde8info)

Paying Up

Wipe our Debt
Wipe our Debt (Photo credit: Images_of_Money)

I’m supposed to be paying bills at this particular moment. But as is obvious by this post, I’m not. I will do, I promise. I still have a few days left before they are due. So there’s no real rush.

Instead I am taking a break from the hustle and bustle of settling in. I’ve found homes for just about everything that was laying around on the floor. I’ve separated my post from the landlords post. I’ve pre-cooked tea and washed up the dishes. I’ve done a load of laundry and set it up to dry.  I’ve even made a list (in my head and God know how long that will stay there) of things I need to pick up from the store down the road. I even took Meg (my daughter) the other side of town to meet her mother.  No wonder I need a break, I’ve been busy!

But despite my busy day, the bills I’ve got to pay have never left my thoughts.  I am always afraid I will miss a payment and get a bad credit  rating. I know this comes from my up-bringing. My Dad used to always say, “You can have all the fun you want. But you have to remember that the important thing is paying up. You always have to pay the piper.”

The things my Dad told me are just as true today as they were when I was a youngster.  In this day and age of easy credit and banks gone mad, I think a lot of folks don’t believe that. But it is true, we all have to pay up.

Of course I’m not just talking about money here, I’m talking about life and our actions in it. Call it Karma, or just call it “owing the house,” it all means the same thing.  We build up a debt by our actions and reactions to people, things and events. Stop and think about it. Have you ever refused to give up your seat on the bus for some poor old soul who needed it more? Stolen a parking place from another driver who was clearly waiting for it? I could go on and on about the seemingly trivial things that we do to one another  that helps build up that debt.

Now let me make one thing perfectly clear, I am not talking about religion. I’m talking about evening the scales, balancing how we deal with one another. Because believe it not, ugly actions build up a debt just as much as charging on your credit card. And one way or another we all have to go through the process of paying up that debt. Refusing to do so will result in bankrupting whatever it is inside of us that makes us human.

I  think that if we were afraid of getting a bad rating in life instead of just from the credit companies, everyone would get along a lot better. Remember the piper and what he did when the villagers refused to pay up. I’m going to try to keep paying up my “debts” because I don’t want the “piper” mad at me!

And you shouldn’t want that either.