The Stark Reality

(Guest post by a fellow B.A.S. reader who wanted to share his own personal story with us in hopes it motivates/reminds others to stay on track too. Savings are sexy!!)

Hi, I’m Sean (not my real name). Ordinary by most accounts, but a happy soul who enjoyed nothing more than spending time with his family, working hard and of course teaching myself everything I could about personal finance and growing my personal safety net.

I can remember as a child receiving $5.00 from my grandmother and quickly walking 3 blocks to the bank so that I could see how the new number would look in my bankbook. I’ll never forget the look the teller gave me when I handed her the $5.00 and happily asked for a deposit – you’d think I had just arrived from another planet! Well, that was just the beginning but I was clearly on my way to where I wanted to be financially.

Fast forward to today and I can honestly say I never really sat down to consider what I would do with my savings once I retired – given it is still about 25 years away. All I really knew was that it involved kicking back some place warm and sunny with a nice old beer in hand, of course.

Then one day, my lights were knocked out.

Just when I thought I had everything going for me, (health, home, cars, 2 beautiful children and a great job) I was politely informed that despite everything, an upcoming divorce was now a in my future – a reality I had never given a moment of thought to. I needed to make some quick decisions that would carve my future for years to come. Besides the heavy emotional toll this kind of thing takes on you (as many of you can probably attest to) I can only begin to tell you about the financial impact this has had, and believe me when I say it’s not pretty.

Simply put, everything we saved for and all the fruits of our labor that we once enjoyed as a couple have now been split down the middle 50/50. And I was lucky. I now needed to figure out a way to go about my day to day without the same financial security I once had. Unfortunately all my savings’ ambitions had been turned up-side-down and my new focus became child & alimony (support) payments, lawyer fees, and surviving as a newly minted single parent for 2 weeks out of the month.

Add to this an unexpected job loss not too long after and I had the recipe for financial disaster.

Lucky for those savings!

The bright side to my story (and the point to all this) is that despite everything, I had some money set aside to help me get through this bumpy period. I’ve started over. I will be launching my own business any day now (something I always wanted to do) and really looking forward to seeing what Life Part II has in store for me.

Not everyone has the ability to save given today’s economy, but for those fortunate enough to be able to: stick with it. You never know what’s lurking around the corner!

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Sean! And good luck on your new biz!

{Photo by Tilemahos Efthimiadis}

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  1. Sue D March 7, 2013 at 6:48 AM

    Bumpy? Good luck on the new business. No one but the lawyers make out on a divorce.

  2. Grayson @ Debt Roundup March 7, 2013 at 7:13 AM

    Well, you can say that you made it through some tough times, so you can handle anything that comes your way, even business ups and downs. Good luck to you and enjoy that “old” beer that you speak of ;)

    1. J. Money March 7, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      I’d gladly meet you all for some old beer right now – it’s been like a month without any!!

  3. Lance @ Money Life and More March 7, 2013 at 7:19 AM

    Good luck in the future and thanks for the reminder that things don’t always turn out the way you expect. I’ll be getting married soon and we agreed we should get a pre-nup that says no alimony ever but I dont’ know if we’ll go through with it or not. This makes me think I should…

    1. david March 8, 2013 at 7:18 PM

      judge will toss it out,,,,you can’t rule out things that the judge will unilaterally enforce. judge will rule it unfair or whatever and the pre-nup is invalidated

  4. AverageJoe March 7, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    I love it that you got so fired up about seeing how the new bank balance would look. Imagine if more kids had that fired up thought!

  5. Greg@ClubThrifty March 7, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    Thanks for sharing your story Sean! That must have been a very difficult period for you. Thank goodness for savings! Congratulations on the new business, and good luck!

  6. John S @ Frugal Rules March 7, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing your story Sean! I love that you’d get excited seeing what your bank balance would be. I know that being through tough times helps prepare us for whatever life has to throw at us in the future. Congrats on the new business & good luck!

  7. Sean March 7, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    Thanks everyone for the good wishes

    Sue: So True. The faster this all gets put behind me the better. Needless to say the lawyers are in no rush to put an end to all the nonsense

    Grayson: Agreed! I’m continuing to learn and grow from life experiences. As for the “old” beer, must have had one too many while writing my story ;)

    Lance: Good luck with the marriage. Pre-nup or not, don’t let that change the person you are or your reason for getting married. Just do so with your eyes open.

    AverageJoe: Funny, even my parents that I was a but crazy..

    Greg: Thanks

    John: You’re very welcome. A positive attitude sure helps.

    1. J. Money March 7, 2013 at 9:26 PM

      Big thanks for putting it all out there man, and answering some comments. We’re all cheering for you here :)

  8. Doable Finance March 7, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    I don’t know why folks are so hung on budgets. Just live within your means and everything else will come in place. It’s the people who can’t control their spending. They need a good therapist more than they need a budget.

    1. J. Money March 7, 2013 at 9:31 PM

      That’s the problem people have – living within their means. And mentally budgets are supposed to help with that (but rarely do if you don’t stay on it!).

  9. Matt @ My Coin Blog March 7, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    All you can do is get up every day and do your best. You still have a lot of blessings in your life, and concentrating on those things will always get you through…no matter what the situation. Glad to hear you have a positive attitude about it all.

  10. Tiffany March 7, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    Wow – Sorry to hear about your super tough situation. I’ve been helping an older friend through a divorce and even the civil ones aren’t pretty. I’m really glad you made out OK, though. Shows just how important saving is. You really don’t know what could happen and it’s the only way to protect yourself in case anything does happen. I don’t usually live my life through that philosophy, but when it comes to personal finance, you have to.

    Good luck with your next adventures!

  11. Cassie March 7, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    It’s horrible that you had to go through that Sean :( Fortunately it sounds like you survived with a cheery disposition intact, which is great not only for you but for your kids as well. All the best with your new business!

  12. Brian @ Luke1428 March 7, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Thanks for sharing your story Sean. I loved seeing my bankbook balance go up line by line with each small deposit. Sometimes I would check it in between deposits just to make sure the numbers hadn’t mysteriously changed. Good luck with your new business venture!

  13. Financial Black Sheep March 7, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Hi Sean,

    I guess I am just wondering more about the after in your story. How much you had in savings when you divorced since it was 50/50 or how you were able to put $5.00 in each month to build it back up. Glad everything is going well in spite of everything that happened!

  14. Retire By 40 March 7, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    I don’t even want to think about the big D word. We have been married for almost 14 years and things are going very well, but you never know about the future.

  15. Melinda Gonzalez March 7, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    I’m sorry to hear this happened to you. I do know that most difficult situations are the catalyst for awesome change. Perhaps this was the push you needed to start your own great business? Good luck with everything, I hope it all works out.

  16. Sean March 7, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Thanks again for everyone’s comments and good wishes..

    Black sheep, what I can say is that although divorce was a negative for me, I sold my house releasing some equity I had built up over a number of years and along with a decent severance package from work, I was fortunate to land softly on my feet. This along with my personal savings (which is supporting me day to day) have allowed me to take on new challenges I would not have dared if these event’s had not happened.

  17. Giddings Plaza FI March 7, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    Sean, thanks for sharing. Very good planning on your part to have a money cushion to land on. Saving that “freedom cash” puts you in the minority. Sorry about the bad news, but my very best wishes on your new business!

  18. Jose March 7, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    I can sympathize with your story 100%. I’ve been separated and eventually divorced for 12 years now. I can honestly say that if not for the financial implications of that, I would very likely have achieved Financial Independence by now. As it stands, i have debt I am slowly getting rid of and although I have a decent amount saved, it’s not enough to give me the freedom I want. One word of advice to you my friend. Should you ever decide to re-marry, PRENUP!

    1. J. Money March 7, 2013 at 9:50 PM

      Didn’t know that about you bud, sorry to hear :( But also you’re a lot like Sean on being so positive! Love that!

  19. Alexa March 7, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    I am a newly divorced – single parent as well. I’ve been on my own for close to nine months. The first few months were just hard emotionally. Once that calmed down things started to get a little sketchy financially. But you have to make the best of this situation youre in. I wish the best for you!

    1. J. Money March 7, 2013 at 9:50 PM

      Going over to check out your blog – thanks for chiming in! :)

  20. nGneer March 7, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    I’m glad to see that after all you’ve been through, you still have a positive attitude and are not jumping on the excuse bandwagon. Too many people make excuses about why they can’t be financially prepared for any situation that comes around. Good luck with your new business! I really hope it works out for you.

    1. J. Money March 7, 2013 at 9:49 PM

      YES!!! Much easier to feel bad for yourself than to get out there and DO SOMETHING about your situation. Good reminder!

  21. Edward Antrobus March 7, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    When we moved into the house my parents are still renting 20+ years later, the rent was cheap because the landlord was just looking to cover the half mortgage he had to get to pay off his ex-wife for her half of the equity.

  22. IV March 8, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    I have been there as well. I will never ever forget the day I came home from work and the house was empty. My wife and kids gone out the door and I didn’t know where they were. Talk about the scariest day of my life!

    6 years later life has thrown amazing curve balls. I’m remarried to a wonderful woman who though cannot have kids of her own have accepted mine with open arms. I also have main custody of both of them. There have been so many ups and downs I’ve lost count, but the journey I’ve taken and where I am I never could have foreseen.

    Hang in there, keep trucking, and love those kids every second you can.

  23. J. Money March 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Awwww so awesome!!!! Glad there was a happy ending to that story! :)

  24. Nick @ March 8, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Thanks for sharing your story. It really highlights the need for a great emergency fund because you really don’t know what is going to happen next in life.

  25. @pfinMario March 13, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Great post. I think a lot of us save with the upside in mind, but you really pointed out how important saving is when it comes to making the most out of a bad situation

  26. BillGuard Blog March 17, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Thanks for sharing your story, Sean. As you mentioned, while many people dream of kicking back somewhere warm and enjoying luxurious days, we see that savings REALLY comes in handy when we have to cope with a crisis. Best of luck with your situation.


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