Unless you are Kim Kardashian or some other celebrity/rock star/millionaire, money (or lack of money) after a divorce is tough. I went from a two income household to a solitary income with the same bills and number of children I had when married. My first year of separation was very difficult.
Since I had been married for over fifteen years I had not been out socially alone or dated in a very long time. Some of my friends said, “You need to get a new hobby!” or “You need to get out more—meet new people!” or “You need to concentrate on yourself – get a facial, go on a retreat!”
Me (aloud inside my head) thought, “All those things are wonderful ideas. But I hardly have enough gas in my car to make it work and back until payday!!” This is the money reality after a divorce for most single women. Here is a true life example of money struggles from my few and painful dates I have had since my divorce.
I met a guy on a free on-line dating website. On our first date we met once for dinner and we split the bill even though he drank wine and I did not. He made it a point to tell me that he did not like women who “expect me to foot the bill every time we go out.” Uh..ok..maybe this is dating in your 40’s?
Second date, I was at my niece’s school function on a Friday night and he and I were to meet up but everything was running late. The text conversation between us:
Me: “Hi, I am still at my niece’s parade—I don’t think I can make it tonight.” My reality was that I had no money, nothing at all, until I got an expense check in the mail. The balance of my checking account at that time was $1.60.
Cheap guy: “Well I really want to see you!”
Me: “It is getting late and it has been a long week.”
Cheap guy: “That is OK we can meet up for a drink or food.” I started to feel uncomfortable.
Back then, fresh from separation and living on my own, I did not have the confidence I do now. Now I would have just told cheap guy, ”No.. another time—have a nice night.” But I felt obligated (please do not ask me why unless you want to offer me free therapy) and I texted back,
Me: “I am really short of money right now, I don’t have money for dinner (or anything else except water).”
Cheap guy: “Well let’s just meet up and we will figure it out then.”
So we met up at a local restaurant chain. I sat across from him looking at the menu and wondering what the hell was I supposed to do now? I had no money, nothing in my checking account. I spoke up and said, “How are we doing this? Are we eating or what? I told you I have no money right now.” Cheap guy said, “well, I guess I will pay this time for you.”
I felt so cherished at that moment. What I really wanted to do was throw the menu at the dude and leave and go home to my cat. But I ordered and listened to a painful dialogue about this woman he was dating who had dogs and her home was dirty and full of dog hair and the last time he was there he had to actually send his clothes to the dry cleaner to get all the hair off of them.
And then as we were eating, he looked down at his plate and saw a HAIR. I am not kidding people. He was freaking out and motioning like crazy to our waitress. He pointed out the offending hair and she whisked his plate away. The manager came over and apologized and offered a free meal and two more glasses of wine. Giddy up.
The moral of this story? Don’t ever go on a second date with a totally cheap guy who tells you on the FIRST date he never wants to pay for anything. Money problems after a divorce are very difficult. I am not diminishing them at all. I have been there and sometimes am still there. However, do not let your lack of money cause you to feel like a complete loser.
It takes a brave person to end a bad marriage and start over. A very brave person. Take advantage of anything people offer you—don’t pretend to have gas in your car when you don’t and some caring person is offering to pay for a tank. Time and again, I made that mistake, bravely telling people, “No I am fine—I have food, I have cash.” And then at home I cried and stayed up with a headache worrying about how I was going to make it until payday. If there is help for you—reach out and grab it. Take advantage of opportunities that come your way to improve your finances (like selling your assets). And when things are better for you, be the one to help another person.