The Promise of Pirate’s Booty
Nope. This is not a post-Halloween/divorce dating story. It is much much scarier than that. It does involve the promise of treasure and short-term pleasure, but most of all the pitfalls of long-term debt.
Scene Setting –
A few weeks turn into months at sea. No sight of land. The water and, more importantly, the beer has run dry. Food is almost gone, my cat looks more like a juicy roast turkey every day, and yes again, we are out of beer. The further from shore, the more desperate for “something” I become. The need to fill my days and help forget the past. Maybe “things” will help? New car, clothes, shoes, dining out, vacationing, home improvements, change of job, scenery, and meeting new people. But how to fund such exciting expeditions to new worlds and experiences? With a blink of an eye, there on the horizon, a ship with its flag waving invitingly–the Visa/MasterCard skull and crossbones…
Zero Percent Booty
My divorce was expensive. I mean I spent a shed load of money, and eight years later, I’m still paying. I wish I could have been more “Spock” or more logical in my divorce spending. But passions run high in the divorce high seas and so does the desire and need for the most expensive legal representation possible. Did spending a ridiculous college tuition amount of money make a difference? I don’t think so, but at the time I felt more secure and slept a little more.
I lost financially but gained personally in my divorce. I lost a lot but gained a fortune from the relationships and experience with family and friends and as a person. If I had a boat that first year, my financial sails were made up of two small handkerchiefs. It was very slow moving at first. Frustratingly slow, but in hindsight my need for full speed ahead would have landed me on the rocks.
Numbing with Credit Happiness
Silence was my worst enemy and fear post divorce. It’s a weird feeling being in bed alone after a decade and not hearing another breathe (or other nocturnal noise which may have caused the divorce). The silence of the first weekend without your kids or pet was not only weird but terrifying as the permanence of it settled in. It is during these times I needed to “numb” my feelings with “noise” of new things and activities. Just getting out of the house helped. I could watch a movie or be happy alone as long as there was noise and activity around me. I have seen many get lost in these post-divorce distractions by going a little nuts for a while numbing the silence. Whatever the activity, they require funding. A family trip here, some home improvement, going out more, meeting new people, and dating definitely started to add up along with the alimony. Getting divorced is expensive, and being divorced is not initially an easy time to save.
Why is it the more debt you get in, the more pre-approved credit card applications you receive in your mailbox? I can recall receiving dozens every week, a card for every color of the rainbow all at zero percent interest for the time it takes to open the envelope. The key to managing these financial acrobatics lies in having a long-term plan with the opportunity for some fun and short-term sanity.
Gold Digging in Dating Minefields
Dating is expensive. Really Expensive. Not just the apps, but the dinner, coffee wining/whining and dining in the hunt for that rare diamond in a mountain of coal. Coal is dirty hard work… so before picking up the ax decisions really should be made as to what you are looking for, where, and identify whether you really are ready for your next relationship.
Are your ready to date? What are you looking for and why? And can you afford it? The best investment is time spent on yourself. No, don’t get all creepy, but seriously–date yourself. Spend the time finding out what makes you tick, reignite your passions, and go do them. Save some money digging up rocks by investing in yourself and the future diamond you will find.
Some Debt is Priceless
I have some very fiscally responsible friends who look at any type of debt as a stinking dead fish. Some debt I believe can be mounted as a trophy. Investing in debt that creates lasting memories are, to coin a phrase, priceless. Some of our best times were on ski trips and summer vacations that were credit-card funded. We needed to just get away. We used this time to bond as a family, laugh a lot, twist a few ankles, and get some amazing pictures. Also sometimes getting away from the problem helped me look at it in a new light and come back refreshed to start again. I am so thankful for a close friend letting me take my family (and mother-in-law) to their lake house the first summer of my separation. I was thankful for the long drive as the further away I got, the closer we got together as a family. It helped me stand back from the battle and realize there was no value in a long term war. It was time to move on and be a positive influence for my kids and myself for the future. The gas on that trip wasn’t cheap, but the long term savings emotionally paid back ten fold.
Paying the Piper, the Ex and the Lawyer
The worst thing about debt is that you have to pay it back. The longer it takes, the more it costs. When making those payments, it is really easy to get a little (OK, a lot) sour. But bitching and moaning about it does not make it go away any faster. Instead I’ve found it just costs you more personally. Carry the blame flame too long and it will burn your fingers and your whole soul to a crisp. No matter how unfair (Don’t get me started…), give it up. Don’t let that sad point in your life carry on and define you to your new destination or you’ll become the new Harry Potter “Moaning Myrtle,” always complaining about the past that you can not change (and hanging around the toilet U-bend all alone).
Losing the Debt Anchor and Sailing Free
It is hard to focus on the long term when half way through the marathon, you ended up at the starting line. Frustrating as it is, it is what it is. You have to put your big boy/girl pants on and plan for your financial future.
Staying the course with long term plans and goals should be balanced with your current needs. Stick with your job until you know where and what you want. It is easy to understand not wanting any association with the past or wanting something different, but fast boats (and cars) have slow payments. And credit cards are the the biggest sharks in the sea.
With holey socks and little booty,
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