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Summer Plans


By way of update, I have provided everything my ex-husband needed to get the children their passports.  I learned that he and the kids had to stand in line for near 5 hours on Saturday morning b/c the location he chose was that crowded.  I don’t understand him but also know it is not my job to point out to him the multiple options that would NOT have a wait for a passport.  Sucks that my kids have to experience this sort of thing with him but it’s important that they see the reality.  So they will be going on their cruise in the late summer and I pray for the best out of the entire experience.  Nothing has changed in dealing with him at this point.  He did have the kids call to say they’d be coming by to get DD’s bathing suit on Saturday.  My first reaction was to get her swim bag ready but then I remembered that I have to approach things differently now. I asked to speak to him and then advised he needs to buy her a swimsuit.  He wasn’t pleased and hung up.  He seems to want to treat me poorly, dump the kids as he sees fit and then have me available to do what I’ve always done.  He can’t have it both ways.

As for my summer travel, I read and thought about all of your comments.  I’ve decided to challenge myself to save a separate little nest egg from my PC business and my ongoing selling of things on craigslist and ebay.  If I save $1,000 by the proposed late July travel date, I do.  If I don’t, I stay home.  I will not lose money on the airfare.  If I cancel I just get the credit on Southwest.  I won’t be putting money down on the condo so there’s no risk on that front.  I feel comfortable with this decision as it sets limits and both addresses the danger of impulsive decisions but also is realistic.  For the last few months (as I’ve shared) I’ve had some tough days where I fear I am about to go out and spend crazy, unplanned money!  So far I’ve done well to avoid bad decisions but remember I even had to take random purchases back to the store?  I don’t want to be a nomad in the desert.  I honestly worry that when the debt is paid off I am going to go crazy and in the span of just a short time, be back in debt.  I want to learn to be balanced and measured about it and I think this Puerto Rico thing is a test.  I’ll have to be very honest with myself and with all of you if this test is to work and be most beneficial.  Fingers crossed.

Now I’m off to find stuff to sell…



  • Reply Phaedra |

    That is an excellent plan. I break from it all will rejuvenate you and make you buckle down even more! I have no doubt you will find 1,000!

  • Reply Alexandria |

    To be fair on the passports, I just had to get two for minor children and it was the hugest PITA ever. I say this as a very plan-ahead and organized type person. {Just thinking about having to deal with all that red tape makes my skin crawl}.

    I can see the logic of doing a vacation while in debt mode (how it would be too easy to spend too much later). I think the fact that you are aware of this possibility speaks volume to your current financial maturity. I am curious though, why $1,000? You aren’t expecting to spend that much on this trip, are you? I am hoping what you are trying to say is that you are challenging yourself to pay down more debt *while* going on vacation. Sounds like a GREAT challenge, to me.

  • Reply emmi |

    This is why I think it’s important to keep saving, even a token amount, as you are paying down debt. Watching the money in the bank grow can become it’s own kind of hoarding thing. And that feels great. You put your arms around that nest egg and say to the world, “no, this is my freedom, my flexibility, my bulwark against an uncertain future. you can’t have it.”

  • Reply Killi |

    Claire, that sounds like a great plan!
    You’ve proven in the past how creative you are to make some extra money. So I am sure you can make it work this time as well.

    And as an avid traveler I definitly encourage you to take some time off. Discover a new place. Make some memories. See new things, taste new food…

  • Reply Floriana |

    I am also low on money and seem to have a very hard time saving any of it, let alone for a trip to Puerto Rico. However, I love the idea!

    You have something to look forward to, and I don’t think of it so much as a test but as a reward for doing a good job.

    Good luck, do you plan on keeping a running dialogue of how you’re doing?

    Maybe I can save for a smaller trip, say for a weekend or something similar. That way I have some incentive!

  • Reply Joe |

    What was the problem with ex-husband coming by to pick up a swimsuit again? I don’t like to be critical when I don’t have all the information, but this one smacks of a little pettiness on your part…

    Great vacation plan! Always need to refresh the batteries — life is a marathon, not a sprint!

    • Reply Claire |

      The issue with the swimsuit is certainly more than just the swimsuit. It’s the general theme of my being the on call person to get everything done so he doesn’t have to meet the kids’ needs. Parenting is more than showing up and being ready when you want to and remember to do so. If this was an isolated incident of forgetting the suit and they were in an infrequent bind, you’d be right in your pettiness assessment. It isn’t isolated. This is the pattern that I can’t continue to participate in now that he doesn’t want to co-parent. To do so sets improper boundaries. His way is to treat me–his children’s mother–with no respect and then he expects me to fix his many, many misses. Lots of therapy has taught me my kids are better served learning his shortcomings instead of my constantly covering them up and then they learn it the hard way in adulthood.

      • Reply Cathy C. |

        I don’t know, Claire. I’m trying really hard to see things from an outside perspective and to me, it can be difficult (especially for a girl) to try on and choose a swimsuit. Perhaps it was just an oversight on your ex’s part and they just simply needed to pick up her suit? Last minute decision that swimming was involved?

        You are fighting this new relationship between your ex and his fiance tooth and nail, whether you see it or not. You have good reason to be concerned, but it seems like treading lightly on this one might be a good idea until real patterns are established.

        • Reply Karen |

          I tend to agree. Also, I’ve wondered if maybe you shouldn’t curtail some of the talk of the ex and your kids simply because, this being the internet and all, you might not want them to find this in the future. No guarantee that the kids won’t be upset reading this at some future time.

          • patti |

            Isn’t the point of her blog to be honest about her daily struggles that influence her and therefore her debt? Maybe she shouldn’t be honest about her finances either….after all….this is the internet and her children might be upset reading this someday. Come On – hard enough to be honest these days without poorly though out comments like this one.

      • Reply emmi |

        Hard to know for certain from a distance, but from what you describe here, it’s just as likely the kids will see you as the bad guy on the suit issue.

        And you’re falling to them to be the judges as you said.

        • Reply Cathy C. |

          You make a good point and touch on something I just couldn’t put my finger on until today. I can’t say for sure what I’d do in this situation, but I know making sure my kids were happy and cared for while they were with someone else (be it the other parent, relative, family friend, etc) would be the most important thing to me, not making sure they see the shortcomings of others. This just seems to be sliding down the slippery slope of using the kids as tools to prove a point rather than just ensuring they weather the storm ok.

  • Reply Catherine |

    What’s the opposite of devil’s advocate? That’s me, right now. If there has been a consistent problem with Mom having to “pick up the pieces” or be the on-call backup parent, one of the goals/terms might now be: when you have the kids, you have to figure it out – especially if it’s only two days a week, (or now it sounds like even two days a month).

    And yes, kids forget things and there are innocent oversights, but at the same time, part of being the “designated dad” for the weekend is dealing with it, instead of putting in a call to mom.

    Without knowing anything about the situation, I could see a boundary being put in place (by therapist, mom, or otherwise) that when dad has the kids, he needs to deal with the issues that come up instead of turning to mom for a solution– what if Claire was on a work trip? What if she was out with friends? What if she was on a date?

    If you are trying to set up clear and responsible boundaries, you have to keep them, even for seemingly “petty” stuff. This time it’s a swimsuit, last time it was the passports, next time it could be something huge.

    The point is having a rule and sticking to it – which can make the responsible parent seem like a witch or a nag or ‘unreasonable’.

      • Reply alicia |

        What everybody fails to recognize in this situation, is that it’s the CHILDREN WHO SUFFER! Why aren’t these kids coming first? If the dad doesn’t so it, does that justify the mother doesn’t do it?

        Does making a point with your ex justify the impression you are leaving on your kids? WTF would it have taken to just give over the kids’ bathing suit? Was all of this drama worth the mental anguish you are giving the children?

        Glad you’ve stopped blogging. Good riddance. Probably the reality of everything will cause you to go hide under a rock where you belong. You are denying your children a ‘happy life’ based on preposterous rules and regulations you have self-inflicted. CHILDREN COME FIRST. PERIOD. YOU MUST DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO MAKE THEIR LIVES BEARABLE. You failed. Good bye. And prayers to your sad, sad children who have to put up with the assinine actions of YOU parents.

    • Reply emmi |

      You totally cleared this up for me. Thanks. I’m not divorced nor do I have kids but I do remember being a kid caught in the middle.

  • Reply Christopher |

    You are such an inspiration. I went on a “free” vacation a few years ago which included air travel and a place to stay and had one of the most expensive trips of my life. By saving the money in a separate account, you will have the ability to have a great vacation and not risk taking away too mich from your debt payments. My next suggestion is to make sure you don’t spend any of your vacation money on bank fees for using cards in Puerto Rico. You may not have any, but this is worth checking out now.

    I am glad your children can go the cruise now, but you need to find a new ally, perhaps with NW. When I have ended relationships, I prefer to break all ties, but as you have children, you will have to wait a few more years.

    FYI, I read your blog to stay out of debt. A few years ago, I had $60,000 in student loans and $20,000 in credit card debt. I spent two years to pay it off, which included working awful second jobs, eating lots of potatoes, and going to networking events with an open bar and free appetizers for entertainment. Without debt payments, I can live in a posh neighborhood in San Francisco, have an active social life, and put money into my savings account every month. Today, I charge on an awards card, which I pay off in full every month, and earn miles to go on fabulous vacations! I did take a year off from charging, but learned I needed to trust myself in not making poor choices. And I can still make potatoes 40 different ways!

  • Reply Doug |

    Setting limits seems to be the hardest thing in the world to do. I hope you are able to succeed with this goal. Looking forward to hearing how it turns out.

So, what do you think ?