Newbie Introduction

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Newbie Introduction
5
Sat, 05-31-2003 - 12:09pm
Hi everyone. I started lurking here today and I know I fit in. I think I'll get lots of great support here, and in turn I hope that I can GIVE support.

I usually hang out at surviving divorce.

My story...I've never been a good money manager and it didn't become a serious problem until well into my adult married life. I'm now divorced and recovering from the financial disaster. I was married to a good guy with mental illness who I could never get on the same page with me where spending was concerned. He thought of himself as affluent and spent like a rich man. Depsite lots of education and good jobs we always lived beyond our means. I can't put all the blame on husband, I always allowed the spending to go on. But it caught up to us in a big way when he began having employment problems (he has mental illness and it got out of control). He was fired from a job and that put us into an immediate crisis. We had three mortgages on our house with payments totalling $4,000 per month. We couldn't manage on just my income. This became the tipping point for what had been a troubled situation for a very long time. I divorced him.

We sold the house for $100K more than what we had paid for it just two years earlier (I'm in CA). But thanks to high interest, substantial prepay penalties, closing costs and real estate agent commissions, the price came short by $27,000 (at a whopping 19.95% interest). I got all that debt in exchange for keeping 100% of my retirement. I also had close to $18,000 in credit card debt. That was the situation in November 2002 when the divorce was final.

I did a significant reality check and realized I needed to make a lot of changes. I put together a budget with the single-minded goal of paying down debt as quickly as possible. I built an Excel worrkbook where I budget amounts per spending category and track EVERY expenditure. It's working! I am proud to say that I've completely paid off three smaller, but high rate debts ($500 Capital One, $500 Limited Too, and $1,100 Circuit City) and my balance on the $27,000 short sale debt now stands at $19,500. All this plus I have sole custody of DD and I pay my X spousal support. Bottom line, despite very high interest rates, my debt has gone from $45,300 to $36,500 in just seven months.

To add to the stress, I was facing a job layoff. Just before my divorce was final I was informed that my position with a state university would go unfunded after June 30, 2003. I had nine months to find a new job. Higher education is depressed nation-wide, and jobs for upper level administrators like me are few and far between (and NOWHERE to be found in CA). I'm happy to say that I did find a new job. I'll be taking a 33% pay cut, but I'm moving to central VA where the cost of living is significantly lower. I won't be able to pay as aggressively on my debts, but I'll still pay them down regularly and surely.

One thing that will help is that I'll rollover my state retirement (I am a few months shy of being vested) into my TIAA-CREF retirement account where I can borrow against the roll-over amount at 6.7% interest rate. I'll refinance as much of the 19.95% short-sale debt as I can.

As for my X, he's still not employed, he qualifies for disability but won't take it because he refuses to see his doctors (major denial), he's moving into a shelter next month, and my attorney tells me his debt has grown by $20K since we separated a year ago.

Suze Orman has been a source of inspiration.

The big change has been devising a spreadsheet tool to track EVERY penny of spending to work out a livable budget that aggressively targets debt.

I hope to learn a lot of cost-saving measures here, and I hope to contribute support where possible.

Kim
. . . plus-sized 43-year-old music junkie and Bohemian-wanna-be with a quick wit, naughty sense of humor, an

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sat, 05-31-2003 - 12:52pm
Welcome! Sounds like you've got your act together! I'm glad you're joining us, and look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Blessings,

Heather

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sat, 05-31-2003 - 1:48pm
Welcome to our group! These ladies are fantastic, I have only been here for about two months, but they have kept me positive and accountable. I love Excel for my budget too, although we are still working on sticking with the budget. You have made incredible progress! I hope your cross-country move goes well, you will have to keep us posted.

Rebecca

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-26-1999
Sat, 05-31-2003 - 9:48pm
Welcome, and boy do you definitely have your act together!! And you sound so well informed about all your options. I like to read everyone's posts, no matter what space they are in, but it was really great to read how confident and aggressive you sound. I have been slipping/easing off lately, and I know I need to rein things in, and your attitude is a real help to bolster myself emotionally to stop spending. Thanks. Good luck on your move and stop by often.

If you are looking for ways to cut costs, check out the Frugal Kitchen and the Frugal Living boards. The women on those boards have amazing ideas for how to do everything yourself and for CHEAP! They are a great source of info.

Rebecca

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 06-01-2003 - 8:42am
Just a question. What part of VA are you moving to? I have family in Charlottesville.
Avatar for cl_phocid
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 06-01-2003 - 10:58am
Welcome to the board ksinha! Thank you so much for sharing your story and joining our board. I'm in CA also, but hoping to move up to Portland/Vancouver shortly. Aside from the rain, the area (I believe) is similar to the Bay Area, but much less crowded and certainly less expensive.

Best of luck in Virginia and your new position. I'm a very strong believer that debt reduction comes with discipline and a strong understanding of the habits that led to debt in the first place. I'm sorry for what your x is going through - my mom suffers from mental illness, and one of the first signs we get that she's either off meds or they've been reduced too low is her inflated sense of what she "deserves" when out shopping. I feel for the situation you were in - it's not an easy one at all.

Take care and post often!

All my best,

Danni

All my best,
Danni