How One Bad Relationship Nearly Destroyed My Rags To Riches Story

[Welcome back from the holiday! Got a guest post for y’all today by Mrs. Mad Money Monster while I’m still stuck in slow down mode over here. She shares her story for us on relationships gone awry – both romantic and financial – but hey, at least she now gets some great blog posts out of it, eh? ;) Take it away MMM… Thanks for divulging!]


Have you ever considered how vastly different your life would be if you  made different decisions? It’s interesting to think that every single decision you have ever made has led to this exact moment in your life. A single choice has the power to change EVERYTHING.

Consider your career. What if you decided to choose a different major back when you were an 18-year old freshman starting college? What about the town you live in? Could you have easily found yourself in rural Ohio instead of sunny Arizona had you decided the lower-paying job offer was a better fit?

Interestingly, I can pin point the single decision I made that changed the entire course of my life. This poor decision of mine was choosing a wrong relationship that almost destroyed my rags to riches adventure. Almost


And with that, let me tell you a story – a story that encompasses the reason I’m not already financially independent. A story that outlines a series of unfortunate events that derailed my financial future.

After college, I chose to enter into a romantic relationship with someone because he was fun and smart and had it together. But, I should’ve realized he wasn’t for me right away. Despite all the qualities I just listed, we had differing viewpoints on some of the big ticket items, one being Money. I failed to take into consideration the way he handled his or, more accurately, the way he didn’t handle his.

Therefore, this most fascinating failure story will focus on the importance of choosing your partner as it relates to your money. And trust me, the correlation is higher than you think!

The Right Side Of The Tracks

mrs mad money monster bday
My 4th birthday in our trailer

I grew up as a poor kid on the right side of the tracks which lit a fire inside me. I wanted to be successful at LIFE. My parents didn’t have high school diplomas, let alone college degrees. They worked hard but they still struggled to pay the bills. We lived in a trailer that was 8′ wide by 50′ long. No joke.

I never went hungry or worried that our house wouldn’t be warm in the winter, but I always wanted more than to just Get By. To say I was tired of heating my bath water on the stove because we didn’t have a hot water heater would be an understatement. I wanted so much more out of my life. I wanted to be successful. Which in my young eyes meant a high-paying job and a big house. Full stop.

Fortunately, our tiny house was on the right side of the tracks. That meant I was in a top-notch school district, rubbing elbows with the kids that had more. A lot more. I wanted to grow up to be just like THEIR parents. There was just one problem – I had no idea how to get there.

From Rags To Riches…

Shortly after high school graduation, I stumbled across someone who helped me realize I could still go to college, despite never taking the SATs. I knew a college education would be my ticket to becoming successful, so I did whatever it took to get that degree.

I worked full-time, I paid cash for classes, I ate and slept in my car between work and school, and I studied non-stop. When I was working at the factory, you better believe I had my ear buds in listening to my lectures over and over and over again!

It worked. I got that degree, and I graduated with honors. Within 6 months of graduation, I had a stellar offer on the table from a global pharmaceutical company. Boom. I jumped at that offer and continued on my fabulous rags to riches adventure!

All The Right Moves

Not only did I snag that scientific degree and that high-paying job, I also started investing (heavily) for my financial future. I was making all the right moves. Until, I wasn’t. Enter one bad relationship decision and the commencement of my financial spiral.

I was out with my sister one night when I met him. We really hit it off and he made me laugh. I love to laugh. In case you weren’t aware of this, most girls are suckers for funny guys! I was hooked immediately and we started dating. We went out a few times, and then we went out a few more times. Before I knew it, we were in a full-fledged relationship. It just kinda happened.

The more time we spent together, however, the more I realized how different we were when it came to a lot of things. Particularly money. He was a spender – a flashy spender. I, on the other hand, was not. But no matter, we weren’t engaged or married. Our money was completely separate. Why should I care how he spends his money?

[NOTE: The reason I should’ve cared is because relationships that *just kinda happen* still stand a chance to lead to marriage and all that it entails!!]

Dining Out and Pool Parties

Fast forward 5 years and there we were spending money like fools. I was still saving and investing in my retirement accounts, but I had adopted his lax attitude when it came to spending. I was spending more and he was spending like crazy.

We were eating out almost every night and throwing extravagant parties to boot. Not only were we eating out and throwing parties, but we were also bank rolling our friends. It wasn’t uncommon for us to go out with two other couples and pick up the tab for everyone.

The worst part, even though I was enjoying myself and enjoying the life we had built together, I knew I wasn’t excited to marry him. And, I knew he felt the same way. Inertia took over. We had a house, we had pets, and we had a pool. What else could we ask for?

Unfortunately, the early progress I made on my rags to riches story had completely stalled because of our decision to keep going and going…

Ridiculous Things I Couldn’t Possibly Give up

money monster house
This was our actual house – 2500 SF of suburban bliss.

He wasn’t a bad guy. We just weren’t on the same page. Hell, we weren’t even in the same book.

Even though I knew I was in a bad (for me) relationship and should have moved on, there were things I enjoyed that I wasn’t ready to give up. Hence, I stayed. Way too long.

Please enjoy this most ridiculous list of things I obviously valued more than my financial future!

  • The big house – Remember, I grew up poor, so this nice, big, suburban house did wonders for validating my self worth. *Eye roll*
  • Our friends – Most of the people we saw regularly were actually HIS friends. We all know friends take sides after a break up, and I knew that his friends wouldn’t take mine.
  • We had pets! – Yep. We had pets that I didn’t want to leave them. How absurd is that?
  • Holidays – One thing we had in common was making a big deal out of the holidays. We loved decorating like The Griswolds and having a kick-ass celebration for each and every holiday.
  • The pool – Have I mentioned the pool? Yeah, we had an in-ground pool to die for. We put it in and it ran us upwards of $70k to do so. Needless to say, our house was The Place to be every weekend. There was a standing invitation for all of our friends. We had a blast. Future? What future? We were living in the moment!

Lost Time

What I didn’t realize when I was enjoying our in-ground pool or nights out with our friends was that my most valuable asset was slipping away. My Time. And it was evaporating into the abyss.

I had worked my butt off to be the first one in my family to get a college degree and a high-paying, professional job. On top of those successes, I had also began investing and building wealth straight out of school. But there I was, counteracting all of the good I had accomplished by succumbing to inertia.

I didn’t want to uproot my life and start over with nothing. No big house. No in-ground pool. Nothing to validate what I had accomplished. That was the image of success I had been chasing since a child. I was living my dreams! Except my success was a facade. I was living a lie. That realization was the catalyst for my reboot.

My Financial Descent

My financial descent didn’t really take shape until I decided to leave the nearly 8-year relationship that stole most of my 20s and stretched into my early 30s.

By the time I couldn’t ignore our differences anymore and was forced to make a change, I was in a position where I was subsidizing my parents’ monthly expenses to the tune of about $800/month. Their trailer was falling apart and I willingly took on the responsibility of buying a house for them to move into.

Regardless of my financial obligations, though,  I still needed to follow through with the break up. I ended up moving out just before Christmas that year. I left with my clothes, 4 lawn chairs, and my 2 cats.

So there I was, starting from scratch at 31 years old. The exact age I had imaged I would be having children with a wonderful husband in a big house. I can’t tell you how depressed I was. And, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I sat in my stark apartment with my coat on that winter. I wasn’t sure I could afford to help my parents AND pay the electric bill if I cranked the heat up past 60 degrees! That was my new life.

But it gets better…

Please enjoy yet another ridiculous list of things I did to derail my finances in the wake of the break up:

  • I continued to help my parents – I continued to funnel about $800/month to my parents to help with their monthly expenses. This was “no big deal” when I was in the bad relationship. Unfortunately, it was a BIG deal when I was on my own.
  • I stopped contributing to my retirement accounts – Sadly, that’s not a typo. Up until that point, I had been contributing 15% of my income into my company’s 401(k) plan and maxing out a Roth IRA every year. This lull in contributions lasted a dreadful 5 years. That’s right, prime investing years in my 30s were wasted! I didn’t contribute a dime. Why? Because I needed the money for the apartment (see next bullet point). #Fool
  • I leased an apartment – I could’ve easily moved in with my parents. They would’ve been thrilled to have me. But I was an emotional mess, and I viewed moving in with my parents in my early 30s as the epitome of failure.
    • The Kicker – My parents were living in the rental house I bought for them; essentially, I would’ve been living in MY OWN house!

Playing Catch up

view of pool from deck
View of our pool from the second story deck.

Because it took me so long to move out and reboot my life, I’m not crafting this post from a stance of financial independence. Instead, I’m doing so late at night after working my full-time job and fulfilling all my obligations.

Why? Because I don’t have the option of choosing a different path – yet.

Why? Because I chose poorly when it came to a romantic relationship after college. On top of that, I allowed inertia to take over for nearly 8 years. I knew it was a wrong relationship for a LONG time and I allowed it to continue because I liked our friends and I liked living in our nice house. After all, we had an in-ground pool! Did I mention the pool???

Success Comes In Many Forms

Not surprisingly, it took me a long time to figure out that success comes in many different forms. I now know that the size of your house has nothing to do with the size of your net worth or your overall success. I also realize how important time is. Wasting a single day living a life that you don’t value is a day you can never get back.

There are no do-overs.

I lost nearly a decade of crucial investing years because I was too busy partying it up to realize that my life and financial future were slipping away.

Thankfully, I got my act together, but not before turning 30. And after that, it took me quite a few years of emotional maintenance and self care before I found the right man. We’ve been married for a few years now and we’re completely aligned on money. You better believe I made sure of it!

We’re back to blazing our own trail towards financial independence. Of course, I could have already been there had I realized how important choosing the right partner was, but oh well. You live and learn. I’ll still get there – it’ll just be in a few years, as opposed to being a few years ago.

The Danger of Inertia

No one is perfect, and that means that everyone makes poor decisions that affect their financial future. The difference between failure and success comes down to how quickly we recognize our poor decisions, and how quickly we take the steps to correct them.

Delaying action is the danger of inertia. It can literally cost you a fortune!

Anyone else working through a comeback story? :)

Lisa is a mother, scientist, and financial enthusiast. She founded Mad Money Monster, a personal finance blog chronicling her and her family’s journey from doing money all wrong to doing it all right. She and her husband are known as Mr. & Mrs. Mad Money Monster on the site. They pride themselves as being Gen-Xers who have turned it all around and are now charting a course towards financial independence. Their goal is to inspire others just like them to take control of their financial future and realize it’s not too late! Sign up to their blog and follow along here.

Enjoy these types of stories? Check out this financial confessional next: “We Used to Blow Our Money on Motorcycles & Airplanes”

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  1. Mustard Seed Money April 17, 2017 at 6:32 AM

    I love reading comeback stories!!! Sounds like you took a different path for a couple of years but are getting back on track pretty quickly :) I can’t even imagine the allure of being the life of the party and everyone hanging out at your house. That must have been an adrenaline rush initially but I can see how after awhile that this might not be nearly what you were looking for. I look forward to reading more of your financial journey along the way :)

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 7:09 AM

      Thank you! I gotta say, being the life of the party was pretty awesome (for the moment). But waking up to lawn furniture in your pool does seem to lose its luster after a bit. I’m so happy to be back on track these days :)

      1. J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:04 PM

        Haha.. I def. would have been one of those people crashing your parties too :) That’s the best type of friend to have – someone who loves to throw parties!

  2. My Sons Father April 17, 2017 at 6:42 AM

    Great post! I really appreciate how open you are. I was talking to my sister-in-law this past weekend about her relationship woes and it reminded me how lucky I was to have met and married my wife. We’ve certainly gone through our financial disagreements, but were both willing to compromise and I think we balance each other out.

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 7:11 AM

      It has amazed me to learn how important it is to choose wisely when it comes to relationships. I guess that old saying about hindsight is actually true. Ha! I’m glad to hear you didn’t have to travel down the wrong path before meeting your wife. Congrats on that!

  3. MyMoneyDesign April 17, 2017 at 6:47 AM

    Wow! Your story is pretty incredible. It just goes to show you that finances are an area of relationship compatibility that is just as important as anything else. I’m not sure most people would have the courage to do what you did, but hopefully this can bring about some inspiration.

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 7:12 AM

      Thanks! It was definitely a dark time after I decided to leave – but it has been so worth it! And you’re right, finances are an extremely important piece of relationships that often get overlooked!

  4. Full Time Finance April 17, 2017 at 6:59 AM

    You know, most people don’t start out knowing the way. Its found by trial and error. Some of us get on the right path early, but I think most have a story like yours. Perhaps not with the relationship itself, but definitely with financial mistakes. The important part is once you’ve figured it out getting on the right path as quickly as possible.

    As for marriage and finances. I’ve been blessed with a mate on a similar page. That being said financial disagreements are said to be a leading cause of divorce. I wouldn’t let someones financial disposition be the only determinant of choice, but it should be on the list.

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 7:14 AM

      I do agree. Most people aren’t lucky enough to get everything right on the first try. Like you said, figuring out the mistake and getting yourself back on track as quickly as possible is the important part!

  5. Miss Mazuma April 17, 2017 at 7:34 AM

    Lisa, your stories never cease to amaze me! Isn’t it so powerful to be able to look back and know that all your instincts were correct…even if you didn’t listen? I knew the day I got married I was making huge mistake but that fricking inertia pushed me right down the aisle. Oh, and the house, dog, and the garden I didn’t want to leave!! So stupid!! ;) Looking back and seeing the story from a different lens makes you so aware of how strong those instincts are and how willing we are to follow them going forward. You were able to turn your entire life around and have accomplished so much more in such a small (relatively) amount of time. what could have been isn’t but what will be is just around the corner. You got this!!

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 8:11 AM

      The more we interact and swap stories makes me think we might be long lost sisters! Inertia is a powerful thing. The worst part is KNOWING you should be making a life change and justifying reasons to not do it anyway. Crazy! I think we both Got This now!

  6. Band of Savers April 17, 2017 at 7:39 AM

    When I think about the decisions that we make and the lasting effects that they can have on our lives I like to imagine a plane flying across the country. If you are leaving California on course for Ney York but get off track by just one degree over Nevada you’ll end up on a course to Florida instead. That one degree might not seem like a big deal at the time but eventually it will lead you several hundreds of miles away from where you wanted to end up.

    I often think back on the decisions that I’ve made that have lead me to where I am and wonder how it would have ended up if I had made different choices along the way. What if I had married that girl from high school? What if I had chosen a different major? What if I hadn’t accepted that job offer that I ended up hating? What if we had bought a different house? The what if game could go on and on and usually leaves me feeling depressed because playing that game is like looking at Facebook, you only see the happy parts that you’d wish had happened and not the real life sadnesses that would have come along with them. This is why I try to learn from my past mistakes but not to play the game (or look at Facebook) but try to look forward and do the best with the lot that I’ve chosen.

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 8:14 AM

      Those are extremely powerful words. You are absolutely right. The course of anyone’s life has an endless set of possibilities. Choosing different partners, majors, jobs, houses, cars all make a difference in how we live our life and where we end up. If we make the best decisions we are able to make at the time, we can mitigate some of those what if scenarios…but we’ll never stop wondering. Your comment is most definitely food for thought!

      1. J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:07 PM

        Fascinating way to look at it, Band of Savers!

        I like that plan analogy (and the reference to FB too for that matter – exactly the reason I’ve deleted my personal account there too :))

  7. Apathy Ends April 17, 2017 at 7:42 AM

    Thanks for sharing and glad you were able to turn it around!

    We had a few years of reckless spending, but we weren’t earning enough right out of college to have a pool :) – thankfully we both were on the same page, we didn’t want to work forever and turned everything around pretty quick.

    did you have a maid come in to clean up after all the pool partying??? I couldn’t imagine being on cleanup duty every weekend from my friends

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 8:16 AM

      Sadly, we did pay someone to clean our house once/week. Another stupid financial decision. But hey, we had money to blow! #not. Oh well, I lived and I definitely learned. And I can say with 100% certainty, I get way more out of being part of this personal finance community than I ever got out of cleaning our lawn furniture out of the pool after a wild party. :)

  8. ESI Money April 17, 2017 at 8:30 AM

    “Have you ever considered how vastly different your life would be if you made different decisions? It’s interesting to think that every single decision you have ever made has led to this exact moment in your life. A single choice has the power to change EVERYTHING.”

    I think about this now and then.

    What if I had taken this job instead of that one?

    What if I had married X instead of Y?

    What if I hadn’t gone to business school?

    What if…

    It’s amazing how 2 or 3 decisions could change your life radically if they were the wrong (or even right) ones…

    1. Mrs. Mad Money Monster | @madmoneymonster April 17, 2017 at 8:51 AM

      Absolutely! It amazes me how just one decision can change the entire course of our lives, for better or worse. I don’t regret my decisions because they have made me the person I am today. And I happen to like that person. :) I do, however, wish I had taken action long before I did. But I didn’t, so that has now been incorporated into my story and my being. Hopefully I can inspire a few others charting their own course to financial independence to examine their decisions and make changes if necessary.

  9. B.C. Kowalski April 17, 2017 at 8:47 AM

    As a late bloomer myself (including moving in with my parents in my late 20s to finish school) I can totally appreciate this post. I didn’t start my FI plan until nearly my mid 30s but now the plan is in full swing! Those past experiences shape who we become and provide valuable experience, even if they did seem like wasted time.

    1. Mrs. Mad Money Monster | @madmoneymonster April 17, 2017 at 8:54 AM

      Exactly! I just stated that very thing in an earlier response. Our collecetive experiences served to make us the person we are today. Without them, who knows, we might not be on a financial independence course at all. And I have to say, I love chasing FI and being a part of this community. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to motivate and inspire me every step along the way!

  10. Mr. Saturday @ Seeking Saturdays April 17, 2017 at 8:56 AM

    Wow Mad Money Monster! That’s a tough situation when it comes to bad relationships. It sucks you lost 8 years but it could always be worse! At least now you’re on your own terms & kicking butt! Your blog has been fun to read with all your funny stories. :) You’ll get there though! Hey, maybe we’ll catch up to you and we can celebrate together! Hehe.

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 9:03 AM

      Thanks! Yep, I’m full of good stories :) I thought this one took the cake and deserved to be shared. Ha! It is wonderful to be doing it my way and kicking butt these days. I’d love to celebrate with you guys over a few cold craft beers! Just keep swimming!

  11. COD April 17, 2017 at 9:11 AM

    My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer last year (she’s in remission now.) However, the diagnosis helped us realize something. Worrying about your 70s when you don’t know that you’ll make it through your 50s is not ideal. I’m not saying we should all spend like the world will end tomorrow, because none of us wants to be living on cat food if we do make it to our 70s and 80s. However, not enjoying your 20s and 30s because every dinner out or concert made you feel guilty about not saving is in many ways just as bad. We all need to find the balance between living in the moment and worrying about the future. And if that means you pay for a maid because you have better ways to spend that 2 hours a week, there is nothing wrong wth that.

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 9:25 AM

      So sorry about your wife’s diagnoses; glad to hear that she’s now in remission! I do agree that everything is about balance and what you value. For me, the deteriorating relationship became a slippery slope that completely derailed my finances. If I would’ve been able to find a balance in the relationship and in the wake of the relationship, I would’ve been in a much better financial position then and now. There are things I spend money on now that most people would think are a waste – but I truly value them. Case in point, our home renovation last year. It was completely unnecessary, but I absolutely enjoy the upgrades and feel happier after having spent the money. I suppose it’s all relative.

    2. J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:11 PM

      Dang, didn’t realize that about your wife, COD :( I’m glad things are seeming on the up and up! Very very true about that balance.

  12. PaulM April 17, 2017 at 9:45 AM

    As somewhat older, I wouldn’t get too down on yourself for the mistakes you made. I can’t think of anyone, myself included, who hasn’t made significant mistakes along the way. They’re inevitable and actually invaluable as a learning experience. You view them differently once you’re well past them and can see how they benefited you by turning you to a better life.

    You are on a better path and it was the mistakes along the way that helped lead you there. I think it’s a testament to a life well lived and I respect you for admitting to them, learning from them and correcting them. Much luck.

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 10:16 AM

      Thank you so much! I agree that those experiences helped me see things more clearly and realize what I really want out of my life. And you’re right, most people have a few significant “mistakes” under their belt. Full speed ahead!

  13. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor April 17, 2017 at 9:56 AM

    Wow, thanks for sharing your story, Lisa. I can totally see how easy it would be to get sidetracked and start over-spending in a romantic relationship like that. I’ve always felt kind of a “lucky” that I “just happened” to meet a guy who was pretty much on the same page as me financially. We met when I was 17 and to be honest, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to break things off if we weren’t on the same page there.

    I’ve had several friends who got into serious debt for a romantic partner, only to break up later. It’s such a bad idea, but I can see how it happens with your emotions are involved.

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 10:18 AM

      It’s surprisingly easy to just allow inertia to take over and keep going with the flow, despite knowing you should make changes. So awesome you found someone who fit you early in life! That will definitely carry your emotions and finances far into the future :)

  14. Dads Dollars Debts April 17, 2017 at 10:15 AM

    Thanks for sharing your story. It is amazing how wh owe are can dictate so much of what we do. The good news is that we can always change as you have demonstrated.

    I bank roll my parents and it is for stupid things. They have enough money and live in a bigger house then I do, but somehow I feel obligated to help them for all that they did to get me where I am today. Silly huh?

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 10:21 AM

      Interestingly, we also bank roll my mother. My mother and father never had a ton of cash (obviously, given how I grew up), but they still could’ve planned a little better. But, since they didn’t, we help my mother with her finances all the time. It used to really irritate me, but now I think, if you have more, you should give more. My parents certainly gave a lot to me.

      So no, I don’t think it’s silly. I also feel the obligation. BUT, I don’t think I’d be eager to give if I felt I was being taken advantage of ;)

      1. J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:19 PM

        Y’all are both making me feel bad about not hooking up my own parents now! Haha…

        1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 4:03 PM

          Haha…maybe you can slide your mom and dad a few bucks here and there to do a guest post! That would be fantastic!

  15. Joe April 17, 2017 at 10:25 AM

    Good move getting out of that relationship. We all make some mistakes. As long as we learn from them, that’s a good thing. Your relationship sidetracked your FI journey for a few years, but you’re doing very well now. Thanks for sharing your story. Keep at it!

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 10:30 AM

      Thanks! It was definitely a good move to jettison that union. Even though we’re doing great now, it’s hard to not be a little down over losing so many good investing years. But, you live and learn. And, I certainly learned a lot!

  16. Sally @ Our Keys Escape April 17, 2017 at 11:01 AM

    Oh goodness – so many people (women, primarily!) that I know had similar things sidetrack them in their 20s!

    And not just a marriage that involved overspending (although mine did, and funny thing, somehow when it came time to pay the bills it was always my credit card, not his, that we used….) but also those that involve physical, mental, and financial drains.

    We’re still moving towards financial independence even while we continue to fight custody battles (incredibly expensive) with my mentally ill, abusive ex-husband. But knowing that we’re planning for the future in spite of that, and that one day, it will all be just a memory, keeps us going!

    1. J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:19 PM

      Dang, sorry to hear :(

    2. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 4:00 PM

      Thanks for sharing your story, Sally! It really disgusts me to think about all the time and money I wasted in that bad relationship. I know I’m not alone. I’m glad to hear that you are also charting your own course towards FI. Cheers to those bad times being just a memory!

  17. Amanda @ centsiblyrich April 17, 2017 at 11:22 AM

    Great story, Lisa! Thanks for being so open about sharing. I think everyone has those decisions they regret.

    Even though we’re on the right track now, I still kick myself for not taking control of our finances earlier. We didn’t really start getting serious about it until our mid-30s, so sometimes I still think about the lost years and how much further ahead we would be now – if only… But no use dwelling on the past. The best thing we can do about those past decisions is learn from them and use them to propel ourselves forward on a better path.

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 11:29 AM

      Absolutely! Dwelling on regret doesn’t do anyone any good. The best course of action now is to take action and get to where we want to be! Sometimes it’s a little discouraging to hear about all these 20 somethings who are nearly at their early retirement goal, but kudos to them! I wish I had been so enlightened back then. If only Budgets Are Sexy was started 20 years ago! Argh! :)

  18. Christine April 17, 2017 at 12:25 PM

    Thanks so much for sharing this amazing comeback story. Thank you for your honesty. It’s so inspiring to read stories like this! I totally understand why you stayed too long in the wrong relationship. It’s so awesome to hear you are in the right relationship now. :)

    I too made some bad choices in my late 20’s early 30’s and stayed too long in a bad relationship that ruined my finances and almost took my life. I was good with my money and credit, and I let him use me and my money. It ended with me having to file for bankruptcy. I lost everything material but I walked away with my life. After leaving, I joined the military, finished college and never looked back. It took me a VERY long time to make myself whole again. Now I’m well on my way back to investing and managing my money better and it’s mostly because of people like you and J Money who share honest personal stories about money.

    Thank you! :)

    1. J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:21 PM

      BEAUTIFUL, Christine!!! Well done!!

      Maybe it’s time you start a blog now to share your story with others? :)

    2. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 3:57 PM

      Awe, thanks for the kind words. It sounds like you could write a post for Budgets with that kinda story! Wow! Congrats on turning it all around and for sharing your story! :)

  19. caren April 17, 2017 at 12:59 PM

    yep, I could have written the exact same story myself. Fortunately, there were a few bullets I dodged, like the guy who hadn’t filed/paid his taxes in years and loved expensive meals, or the dude who had a brand-snobbery problem.

    Here’s the thing. We’re human. Deep down, we all just want to be loved and fear being alone, so money is our tool to maneuver those visceral desires. Don’t feel too bad!! We’ve all been there.

    But there is one point I’d like to raise about the pets. It’s something that I’ve heard from the minimalists and now I sense it here, too. Pets are intended to be family members and not something that is lumped into a list of possessions. They are beings with needs and attachments, just like you and I.

    I admire that you didn’t want to leave because of the pets. I hope you and your ex came up with a good solution for them.

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 1:35 PM

      Thanks for your comment! We did come up with a good workaround for the pets. In the end, it worked out for everyone involved. But it was most definitely like going through a divorce, despite not ever having been married.

      It’s nice to know that is all behind me. But being human, I know we can make mistakes over and over again. Hopefully, I’m smarter the next time around.

  20. Roberta April 17, 2017 at 1:23 PM

    Yes. Been there. Done that. Thanks for this post and the encouragement. Now I am getting back on my feet and trying to recover all the money I should have invested instead of spending with someone that wasn’t even worth it :/

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 2:03 PM

      The only way is up! Just imagine how much better off you’ll be having that past experience. That’s how I think about my past – it helps me make choices each day that will get me to my goals!

  21. Primal Prosperity April 17, 2017 at 1:56 PM

    Wow! I know J$ put the link to my confessional at the bottom of the post… but, boy, our stories are eerily similar!!!

    Glad you found your way out, as did I!

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 2:05 PM

      Crazy how we can allow other people to derail our finances, isn’t it! Glad you’re also on the right track these days!

      1. J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:22 PM

        Maybe Mad Money Monster left out the airplanes and motorcycles from her story? :)

        1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 3:53 PM

          Haha…After I hit FI I’ll think about an airplane ;)

        2. Primal Prosperity April 20, 2017 at 10:09 AM

          haha! Ok… different ‘stuff’, but same emotional spending… and the worst is staying in a relationship that we know isn’t serving us. Sigh… lessons learned. :)

  22. Mrs. BITA April 17, 2017 at 6:21 PM

    Was it Bernard Shaw who said that youth is wasted on the young? I know compounding wasn’t what he had in mind when he said that but damn if it isn’t easy to fritter away our most valuable asset, time, when it seems like we have such an endless stretch of it ahead.

    Thank you for sharing your story, and I’m so glad you are back on track now.

    1. Mad Money Monster April 17, 2017 at 6:35 PM

      Those sure are wise words! I feel like an old person when I advise “kids” to save and invest while they’re still young. It’s kinda like telling them I used to walk up hill both ways to and from school. Haha. I’m glad you liked my story! I enjoyed sharing it :)

  23. Jacq April 17, 2017 at 9:10 PM

    I dated a guy for 7 years. He also was not good with money. He bought the house, no pool, his cats. My ex would decide the power bill was too high and not pay it until the threat of being shut off and he’d pay the whole big thing at once. I kept loaning him money, stating at each instance it was a loan and he would agree. Not for $5 here and there, one time it was $1000 for a suit shirts, ties, etc due to a new job. When he came into money (either a disbursement of his 401k or a house refi (he sold 1 at a lost and was foreclosed on for the other two), I handed him an excel sheet ‘bill’ totalling around $7000. I was surprised I’d loaned him that much, he was shocked I called him on it. He gave me my money and I was a lot more thoughtful about future loans.
    He rented both downstairs rooms at one point, and I paid rent too yet often I was taking the checks to the bank to deposit them. I’d also drop off and pick up his dry cleaned suits (& pay) when he was working in the city because he’d be gone before the cleaners opened and home after the closed. I’d ‘borrow’ his credit card to renew the registration on his truck. This was after he’d gotten a ticket for something else and had that citation added on top. Another time he didn’t have money to repair his truck, so I let him drive my second vehicle and he hit a deer and it was my car and I keep my cars road worthy, so I paid for the new headlight. At one point he said he didn’t have enough money to go on a date (this is back when Chili’s did 2 for $20). I started packing his lunches figuring if he saved $5-$10/ day, maybe we could go on a date.

    He let a 401k be disbursed, and I was left wondering if that meant he expected me to finance our retirement. He was 7 years older than me, and is one of those people who doesn’t much like working. I was only saving the minimum for 401k match at the time.
    He thought the houses would lead to passive income, but both hit the bubble on the 3rd and didn’t rehab it with the urgency to get the timing right to rent it for the college year, so he sold it for about what he bought it for despite sinking 30-40k of renovations into it. (Big reason why I’m not pursuing flipped rental income towards FI, I’ve seen how much commitment is truly required and I have other commitments right now.) He had made the attic space into a living area in the 1st house under the impression owner improvements didn’t need to be permitted. When he wanted to sell he found out his options were to rip it all out so the inspector could check the wiring or wall up the entrance. He refused so he stopped paying the mortgage to stick it to tell bank. This was after we broke up thank goodness!
    The other big disaster I dodged was due to me having good credit etc I had suggested taking over the mortgage at house 2 where we lived. Mostly it was so I could stop worrying about the bills getting paid on time. Then my job announced layoffs and I decided that was not a good idea.
    When I saw him in 2013 at a mutual friend’s wedding he announced he was going to quit his job to go back to school, like it would impress me. I worked full time while taking classes for my masters, so that was just a huge mental eye roll. Since then friends (are they when they have to mention him whenever I hang out with them?) kept me in the know about the house foreclosures, him moving in with his dad and step mom etc.
    His indecision of not knowing after 7 years if he wanted to marry me saved me from so much financial strife!!
    I do wonder sometimes how different my life might be if I’d dated someone else, if we hadn’t dated so long and all that. Instead I am where I am with a lot of lessons learned many vicariously and not to the detriment of my finances.
    When I post about it in the comments on blogs, I am amazed at what I put up with because I saw the potential he had when I met him and truly cared.I’ve made my friends promise to keep it real if I seem to be making a mistake again.

    I am so glad your story has such a wonderful happy ending! Keep up the excellent work and keep inspiring those around you, whether you know you’re doing it or not. :)

    1. Mad Money Monster April 18, 2017 at 9:48 AM

      Wow! Just, wow! Now THAT is an inspirational story. I am so glad you were able to see the light and find your way out of that relationship before allowing it to sink your financial future. Obviously, finances are only a piece of a relationship and it’s difficult to allow that one piece to completely negate all other aspects. I supposed that’s why we enter and stay in relationships that aren’t completely healthy for us.

      You definitely have an inspirational story of your own. Thanks for sharing it!

    2. J. Money April 23, 2017 at 2:23 PM

      “I started packing his lunches figuring if he saved $5-$10/ day, maybe we could go on a date.” – ugh, so sad reading that… (but MAN were you a good girlfriend!! :))

  24. Paul April 18, 2017 at 8:37 AM

    *Preface: I’m not commenting on the writer’s situation, I don’t know it, and I’m leaving it at that. Just didn’t want someone to draw an inference that wasn’t there…

    A bad money partner is not necessarily cause for leaving. I’m not commenting on the writer’s experience, I merely want to present an alternative view point that sometimes it just takes time. I would say with as much objectivity as I can that I was probably a 7 out of 10 on money when my wife and I got married she was probably a 4 out of 10. Neither of us made much but I always knew the importance of saving/investing, and staying away from credit as much as possible. She just normalized it in that everyone else was taking out loans for cars and houses, why not us… Anyway, pulling on Jay’s thread a little, almost 11 years later I am proud to say we are on the same page. It did not come from me forcing her to change, it came from small, minuscule, micro sized changes and conversations over a decade. A person needs to hear your view point and then have time to digest it some people buy in right away but other’s, it takes time, while some may never. So, if anyone has made a marriage commitment to another person, I would hope that they realize there is hope. Don’t give up, realize it takes time. It took me 7 years to get my wife to even have a conversation that didn’t result in her immediately steam rolling over me to avoid any talk about money. But the thing about money is, as long as you need it, its prevalence in your life can not be mitigated through avoidance.

    My wife would get mad at me and say stuff like ” all you care about is money…” etc… I would tell her that I don’t care about money at all, in fact I hate that we need it to live. I would talk to her about my dream of overcoming a situation where I have to work to pay a mortgage, and dream about the day we could travel and take months off together. These are things that unless your spouse hates you and sees you only as a cash cow, that they should be able to start empathizing with you and really desire as well. I kept telling her that none of what I was telling her was because I want to be a Scrooge McDuck swimming in a vault of gold coins… I just wanted freedom, and to be free with her, my best friend.

    When I put it in those terms, she could get on board and really, I would have to say she is even MORE frugal that I am at this point.

    1. J. Money April 23, 2017 at 2:21 PM

      I love it, man :) And I think it helps a lot when the other person is *open* to change too over time. Both sides have to want it or what a mess it can become. Glad y’all are a power couple now!

  25. The Tepid Tamale April 18, 2017 at 8:47 AM

    Thank you! I am looking forward to reading your blog! It is great to read so many of these blogs where people were wired right, worked really hard, and are now financially independent. These are needed and are awesome, but what I also need are some fellow people still in the trenches, a little later in life, who didn’t do it all perfectly. Thanks for your honesty, and sharing!

  26. Miss Piggy @ The Earnest Addiction April 18, 2017 at 9:06 AM

    Thanks for sharing your story and being open about your financial obstacles, Mad Money Monster. Your story resonated with me deeply as partners are the 1st person we trust, share our lives with emotionally and financially. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading everyones comments and hearing their (similar) stories about choosing bad romantic (and financial) partners.

    I related to your story on more than one level – my current partner is a spendy one, doesn’t save or have any backup, despite him making almost double what I do. While neither of us came from well-to-do families, we grew up surrounded by people who had much more. As we are now in our 20s, these friends with more now have much flashier lifestyles, possibly afforded by parents or debt.

    Through this blogging community, I woke up to the realisation I let my own naturally frugal habits slip and match my partner’s lifestyle. I have wasted so much money on cheap thrills instead of my future. Luckily, after many months of following the ‘FIRE’ blogging space and preaching to my partner, my partner woken up to the idea of ‘paying yourself’ first before the shops and restaurants.

    It’s amazing how much influence a partner can have on one’s future. I’m glad that you shared your story with warts and all, and also emphasised that these dangerous, spendthrift lifestyle choices are one’s own doing and a result of one’s active choices, partner or not.

    Thanks again, Mad Money Monster!

    1. J. Money April 23, 2017 at 2:24 PM

      Glad to hear he’s coming around :)

  27. Superbien April 18, 2017 at 9:41 AM

    Ok, I have spent quite a lot of time thinking you were Mrs. Money Mustache. Apparently not?

    Great article. Yes, the right partner makes such a difference!! But nobody tells kids that.

    1. Mad Money Monster April 18, 2017 at 4:11 PM

      Haha…nope. Mrs. Mad Money Monster here :) I’m glad you liked the article!

  28. Ramona April 18, 2017 at 9:56 AM

    A bad relationship is never the answer and not being ‘in the same book’ clearly means it wasn’t OK. It’s great you decided to break apart, you’ll do just fine from now on. Imagine if you had kids… it would have been a disaster. So, time to enjoy YOUR life and everything you’ll accomplish from now on.

    1. Mad Money Monster April 18, 2017 at 4:12 PM

      Oh my gosh…I have thought about that often! The fact that we never had kids was a blessing! I am definitely enjoying my journey these days.

  29. Colin @ rebelwithaplan April 18, 2017 at 5:35 PM

    It’s good you figured it out. Progress isn’t always linear. I have to remind myself of that from time to time. You’re on a good track now!

  30. NZ Muse April 18, 2017 at 8:48 PM

    I too have also been seriously financially stunted by a relationship. Love is not enough! Very hard not to beat yourself up about it in retrospect but all you can do is focus on moving forward and up from where you are now!

  31. gfaseed April 19, 2017 at 6:10 AM

    In my opinion, the key to have a good relationship is to have common goals.
    And that obviously means common goals in terms of finance objectives.

  32. Dave April 21, 2017 at 2:18 PM

    That was an inspiring story. Turn around stories are my favorite. It does not matter how you start the race. What matters is how you finish.

  33. Young and Finance May 3, 2017 at 2:56 PM

    Hi Lisa. Thanks for being open and sharing this experience in your life. The things we do when we’re young…but Im glad it all turned around for you. The person we choose to spend our lives with can play a big role in our success or lack of success.

  34. ZJ Thorne June 20, 2017 at 6:36 PM

    This story resonates so deeply. We weren’t in a trailor, but we were on the wrong side of the tracks. Our high school was a joke, but I managed to get a scholarship to a fancy east coast school and started learning about money from the rich students I attended with. I diligently saved at least 10% from all earnings, but I was too afraid to invest. I just put it all in a savings account. Fast forward through my 20s and see me in a terrible relationship where I am financially supporting a woman who just stopped taking care of herself. It was hard. A year after that ended, I had restored some of my “lost” savings and transformed that into a small business that I’m still growing. So glad I invest now and found someone with similar financial values.