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A Honest and Raw Look Back


I would have celebrated my 17th wedding anniversary this past weekend. And I think I’ve finally gotten far enough away from it and healed enough and moved on to look back with a more honest and open assessment.

I’ve always said I lived my life with no regrets. I would take whatever came and accept it – good or bad. I’d say I learned from it and accept it as part of life. But no regrets.

But the reality is…I do have regrets. With some time to look back, and the guts to do so more honestly then I ever have…I do have regrets. And quite a few, and more than that. I am realizing that I have not always learned from them…

Big Financial Mistakes

I thought I would share some of them that have had some major financial affects on me…and maybe if someone else stumbles upon this blog, they won’t repeat them.

  1. Do not finance someone else’s car, even if they are your spouse. And especially when your marriage is rocky or abusive like mine was. Believe me, you can buy someone’s love or your own safety by putting their car in your name. You will just be left holding the bag when you finally get the guts to leave.
  2. Hire an attorney for any divorce. No matter how amicable or broke you may be or seem. Just do it. Hire an expert and lay everything out. Don’t be a smarty pants like I was and assume you can do it yourself for a measly $75. I mean, you can, and you will get divorced. But again, you will be screwed financially!
  3. Spoil your kids with love and your time and a combination of the two. They do not need stuff. They won’t remember stuff. And it won’t make them love you more. Or less if they don’t have the stuff. In fact, it will probably teach them to value things differently.
  4. Buy a car that works for you, whatever you needs may be. Newer if you are scared of cars breaking down. Older if you know how to maintain it yourself. Big enough for your family. But whatever you buy, stick to it. Pay it off, maintain it and just stick to it. So much better than the route I have taken in second guessing myself, getting out of the auto mess with my ex husband (see #1) and more. (Oh, and definitely keep full coverage insurance just in case you have a wreck that totals your car.)
  5. Take care of yourself. Not just your health, but definitely that too. But give yourself a break, learn to forgive yourself for your screw ups. Give yourself grace. Learn to rest and not run yourself ragged. (You definitely make worse decisions when you are stressed and tired.) Make sure to give yourself some “treat” money, even in the tightest times. I’m not saying go crazy, but even $5 for an ice cream or a pack of gum.

In conclusion, I think this is the first year since my marriage ended 13ish years ago that I have really looked back. Allowed regret to wash over me. Really took some responsibility for my bad, really terrible decisions. And I’m still in the middle of it, the angst and awakening. I can’t go backwards, I can’t fix my royal screw ups.

But I am now in the place where I can own them. Rather, I will own them. And face tomorrow and each day a little strong, a little wiser. Hopefully others can learn from my mistakes. I am not going to wallow in the shame they cause me, but I am going to do better.

How it All Began


How it all began……

I was never good with credit. When I was 16, Lane Bryant sent me a credit card. I had ordered from there catalog for several years. I don’t remember filling out a credit application, just this very pretty purple piece of plastic coming in the mail, and I then could order clothes and pay a small $25 a month until they were paid off. Easy, right? I had my first charge off on my credit report at 18.

I was a single mother at the time, and on welfare. The next step was to go back to work, and I needed a car. But with a new job and a small awful credit file, I needed a co signer. I don’t know how I did it, but I talked my Dad into it. I bought a 1990 Ford and went to work 3rd shift.

I behaved at 1st, making payments on time, and then I moved out on my own. I lived in an apartment with my son, and my soon to be husband. (now my ex husband). Living on my own was hard, and things started to slide. First my car insurance didn’t get paid, then it was canceled. So the finance company added their insurance to the car. Then I fell behind in the payments. Eventually I had to give the car to my Dad, and borrow his paid off car to drive back and forth to work. He was nice about it, but swore he would never co sign for me again, and he never has. Not that I would ask.

When my ex and I got married, we moved south with the military. He then took over the bills. I had given my Dad his car back when we moved, so we were down to one vehicle. We decided to trade his truck in and buy 2 cars, one for each of us. His credit was good, so it was no problem.

Fast forward a few years, and we are out of the military and permanently living in the south. Thing are tight, and my ex and i fight about money a lot. Eventually we end up splitting the bills 50/50, and each of us have to pay out of our own paychecks. He doesn’t care about any credit cards, just that if they are in my name, I have to pay them myself. Me, having no self control with money, rack them up. We split in 2001, and he walked away with a paid off truck. I was left with 10,000 plus in credit card debt, student loans, and a single wide mobile home with a 20 year mortgage.

I then decided that I wanted a new car. The one I had was with a credit union, and I was upside down a lot. But it was in my ex husband’s name. So, I let it go back, and bought a car on my own. Took out more credit cards. Move to a rental house that was $250 more a month and let the single wide trailer go back to the bank.

Are you starting to see a trend?

Don’t get me wrong, I was making it, but by the skin of my nose. By then I was at my current job but a single mom of 2 kids. Do you know how embarrassing it is to have collection agencies call you at work, while you are a bill collector for your job? One time, they even faxed my boss about my debt. I blamed my ex husband, and prayed that they would stop one day.

Then the rental house caught fire. Thank goodness I had renters insurance. I had a ton of cash, and a spending habit that I had not fixed.I found a new place to live, a rent to own house. I had one year to rent, and I had to get the mortgage in my name. I did it in 6 months. That was the height of the housing bubble, and I got a 11.75 % variable APR mortgage on a $125,000 house. But I had a ton of money from the insurance, that made it easy. My spending habits didn’t change. My kids and I had more stuff then we knew what to do with.

I then met my current husband. He is 6 years younger than me, and still was living at home. We has a speedy courtship, 4 months from our 1st date to our marriage. The money from the fire had run out by then, and he didn’t have a well paying job, so I robbed Peter to pay Paul to pay for the big wedding we had. The mortgage company did the 1st loan modification on the mortgage within 6 months. They lowered my payment and my interest rate to 7.5 % fixed. I thought everything would work out.

Traded and bought a few vehicles, and racked up more debt. Was kinda of keeping my head above water, then my husband got sick. We then had huge medical bills that included a bill for a cornea transplant. Everything got past due, even the house again. We went and filled out the paperwork to file chapter 13 bankruptcy but didn’t have the filing fee until we got paid on Friday. Thursday, I went out my front door to goto work, and my car was gone. It had been repossessed in the middle of the night. So, I borrowed the filing fees to file a day early, and the next day, the lawyer got my car back from the bank.

Again, things were fine for about 6 months then hours were cut. My husband had to find a new job, and took a $2 an hour pay cut. That hurt. Our Chapter 13 payments were self pay, so we stopped them. And our plan was dismissed.

We went back to the attorney, and asked what to do. He said to keep the house, we would have to file chapter 13 again, but reduce what we were paying in the plan. We gave back my car, but kept my husbands truck. I went out and found a mini van on a buy here pay here lot and got that for transportation as our family by then had grown by our twins and we didn’t fit into the truck by then. This time my pay was garnished for the payments, and my take home was about $250 every two weeks. My husbands was about $600 every two weeks. Everything else went to bankruptcy. It was very tight. So tight, that I even went behind my husbands back and got 4 credit cards while in bankruptcy. See the trend.

Then the layoff. My health insurance at the time was 100% paid by my employer, but my husband carried the girls and himself. To add him and the kids to my heath insurance was $300 a paycheck. His unemployment was $115 a week, and I only was clearing $250 a paycheck. The bankruptcy payments had to stop. My attorney got the trustee to stop the garnishment, and I put everyone on my health insurance. We saved up and filed income taxes, and converted to a chapter 7. We bought 2 salvage titled cars, and let the truck and van go back to the banks. We did another modification that included stretching the mortgage to 40 years from 30 years, and kept the house. We were discharged from chapter 7 in July 2013.

Stay tuned for part two…