I debated writing about this, as this blog is about sex and dating, but then I remembered that this blog is also about my post-marriage journey. My current sucky situation certainly qualifies.
Life is currently fucking me hard… and not in a good way. This is not consensual sex. This is more like rape. I feel scared, abused, angry, and hurt.
My financial situation is dire. I live in a near-constant state of panic. I use an app on my phone to track every single outgoing penny (Expense Manager is awesome, by the way, and obviously free). I have worked and re-worked my budget and simply can’t get it to work. I am in the negative about $400 every month… and that’s for basic necessities. It does not include vacations, haircuts, or even an impromptu drive out of town due to the extra cost for gas and tolls.
I have been living in fear for the past 6 weeks. Prior to then, I wasn’t tracking my expenses but then had a wake-up call when I realized my savings account was being drained at an alarming rate. I looked at my income and expenses under a microscope and saw I was living in financial denial for the past 5 months since moving into my own place. As it turned out, the preliminary budget I had prepared for myself back in February wasn’t accurate and, since I wasn’t tracking carefully, I let myself blow through $4k from my emergency savings. Holy shit.
I refuse to spend any more of my emergency savings account and I refuse to go into debt again. (I worked hard to pay off all my credit card debt and student loan debt back in my 20s – it was painful but one of my proudest achievements.)
I earn a good living and have a career I love but, with the custody schedule and my long commute, I cannot work more than 30 hours/week. My employer won’t allow me to telecommute. Mars provides spousal support but it’s obviously not enough. We will be starting mediation soon. It will probably get ugly, as he’s already balking about how much he pays in support. The reality, though, is that he’s certainly not struggling financially. Proof: He took the kids on a nice vacation to Europe last month. Meanwhile, I was crying often due to unexpected expenses I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay.
I am trying to get creative to earn more money. I was considering driving for Uber and/or Lyft during the times I don’t have custody of the kids but didn’t think it would be worth the wear-and-tear on my 8-year-old car. I was also considering subletting the kids’ room on the nights they are with Mars but the owner lives downstairs so it’s not a real option. Plus, I felt weird about letting someone I don’t know sleep in my daughter’s bed.
Writing was a no-brainer. It’s my passion and I can do it after the kids are in bed for the night – perfect! I started applying for freelance writing positions.
I was hired as a freelance writer for Domainite. I was excited until I realized they are a content mill and only pay a penny per word. It was not worth the hassle of paying for the required plagiarism software and being available for unlimited edits within a 10 hour window after accepting a job for such a small wage.
However, I was also invited to write content for a local start-up tech company. It’s an exciting opportunity and an awesome idea… but it’s currently unpaid. Still, I am reaching a huge audience writing stuff I was already writing on my own blog (not this blog!) and it may eventually lead to a paid position. The content director was so impressed with my first article that he invited me to participate in a special content campaign. I am being stretched creatively. All good things!
Financial desperation makes one ballsy. I never would have applied for the position otherwise. This is the silver lining.
In the meantime, I still desperately need more income.
The cost of living here is insane. My rent is 70% of my income (income being my salary plus Mars’ spousal support). My entire monthly salary pays only my rent. And my kids have to share a room because I cannot afford to rent a 3-bedroom. It’s ludicrous and it’s wrong.
My little sister is getting married next month. I am her maid of honor. I just returned from the bachelorette weekend (we rented a cabin in the mountains) and spent money I don’t have. It was stressful. I had no business going when I can’t afford it but I also don’t want to miss the festivities for this once-in-a-lifetime event. And I am her maid of honor, after all! Such a conundrum.
On my way to the cabin in the mountains on Friday afternoon, one of my back side windows unexpectedly shattered while I was driving on the freeway. It was a freak accident that cost me $205 I don’t have to get repaired. More panic.
I spent the first night of the weekend in tears over my finances, drank too much, and woke up with red swollen eyes and a horrid hangover. I spent the next night panicking that I had to charge the unexpected expense of a taxi and gas for my sister’s car on my credit card, and ashamed that I couldn’t/wouldn’t chip in money for everyone else’s dinner and alcoholic drinks (i.e. someone wanted to split the bill evenly between everyone in the party) when I had shared my sister’s entrée and drank Diet Coke. There was no way I was going to pay $33 for my shared entrée and Diet Coke while everyone else ordered pitchers of margaritas, multiple glasses of wine, their own entrée, plus appetizers. I simply couldn’t afford it, and I felt like a scrooge.
The bridal shower is in 2 weeks and I am already worried about the cost of the food, décor, and gift. And I still have to buy shoes and a gift for the wedding itself.
I am trying to keep things normal for my kids. I make them dinner and eat their leftovers. I took them back-to-school clothes shopping recently (Old Navy, with coupons) but am consigning my own clothes. They know money is tight but they aren’t feeling it yet, thank goodness. I want to keep it that way. They should not have to suffer.
This cannot continue. Mediation has to happen ASAP. I only want what is fair. I think Mars will concede without much of a fight but, if not, I will push for sole custody because the bottom line is that I cannot afford to stay in San Francisco. I cannot live in poverty because he refuses to pay more in support nor move to an area with a more reasonable cost of living.
The thought of leaving San Francisco makes me want to vomit. This is my home… and it has always felt like home to me, years before I moved here. I dreamed of living here when I was little girl.
None of this is going to go over well. I am nervous and scared. Life can go fuck itself right now.