Monday, November 30, 2015

Living Apart, Living Large

This is a post in a series on divorce. The list of divorce topics is here.  Understanding this process can be incredibly difficult, I felt compelle to share some of what I have gone through and learned personally. If you'd like to read the first post, click the link above.

Once the assets have been divided, it is then time to start living a separate life. For me this meant dealing with a series of issues around money, time, and space. This post talks a little bit about the money aspect of the separation/initial divorce period...this IS a finance-focused blog after all! In the next post, Reclaiming Life, Restarting Goals, I will discuss more about the other aspects, time and space, but for this post, I am focused solely on the money aspect and the impact that living separately has on someone in this situation.

Personally, I was fortunate while I divorced to have a good job and to be able to afford my own apartment and living expenses. While this may seem good at first, this inevitably had a reverse effect in my experience. I have long followed suze orman and I enjoyed sometimes how she told people that they were buying things they don't need to impress people they don't like etc. Well, I like myself and now that I was no longer in a relationship, I didn't have to check my purchases with anyone else. I could buy whatever pleased me whenever I wanted.

The next step was to move out and pick a place to live. I know of some people who end up purchasing expensive digs after the breakup because they want to show how much better their life is now. Personally, I didn't do that right away. I first started with a room in a shared apartment and became a roommate again. This was cheap but the apartment wasn't clean or as well kept as I would like. Separately, it was a problem for me to feel comfortable so I moved out.

My next diggs were better but definitely more expensive. In addition I had to purchase all of the items for the new place and get used to paying for all of that out of my own paycheck. Not cheap. That included the following:
1. Living Room furniture
2. Desk/Chair
3. Carpets/Lamps
4. Silverware/Dishes/Pots
5. All new food/linens/staples

Nearly everything that I had purchased over the next 6 months were things that I had already during my marriage and had to replace because I didn't take them. I left everything. While this is not horrible because I was able to get what I wanted, it was extremely expensive, costing about 6K before I was finished. While I needed these things, they were primarily to ensure that I didn't feel crummy while I was dating.
Looking back at this period in my life, I certainly understand why I did what I did. And I am sure it is a common reaction to the situation of divorce. The challenge I'd make to anyone going through this process though is to make a budget as follows:

1. Decide what items you need in the next 6 months and how much you expect to spend
2. Take that budget and cut it in half. Repeat this process until you've bought what you need. You will likely find you need far less than you thought.

As for me, I gave most of that stuff away less than a year later when I moved. Do you want to waste that much money?

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