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How Things Changed

I’ve shared some of my financial background, so I thought this would be a good time to talk about how and why I decided to go from rabid spending to writing a blog about getting out of debt.

My divorce should have been the catalyst for a change in my thinking, but it wasn’t. My parents bought a house, which my dad and I spent months remodeling ourselves, for my son and me to move into. I did spend the first few months with no living room furniture (I waited for my tax return), but beyond that I spent just like I always had. I convinced myself that I could afford to do what I wanted without my ex spending us into oblivion. What I failed to do was acknowledge my own contribution to the financial problems in the marriage.

In my first year post-divorce, I can’t count how many times I needed my parents’ help to cover an overdraft fee or gas money until payday. In December 2010, exactly a year after the divorce was final, I realized I was about to turn 28 and still throwing money down the toilet, and I realized there wouldn’t be a Prince Charming to come rescue me from my financial problems with his magic bank account. I also realized my ex will never better his situation (he lost his home to foreclosure after failing to make a single payment after I left) and it’s up to me alone to make sure my son is taken care of.

So I opened a new bank account to escape my local bank’s 1990s interface. I set up auto transfers to savings. I opened a Roth IRA because my employer doesn’t offer a match on its 403(b). And I made a budget. In that moment, staring down the money I was throwing away every month, I decided I was never living like that again.

I have done a lot of small things to cut expenses in a big way. A promotion from Comcast lowered my cable/Internet bill from $110 to $45 for the next six months. I changed my AT&T plan and cut $30 off my mobile bill. I increased my car insurance deductibles (now that I actually have money in savings in case of emergency) and saved $120 every six months. I have also started taking frozen dinners to work – $3 a meal is much better than $10+.

Most important, I’ve stopped justifying purchases. When I see $20 extra in the bank, I move it to savings instead of buying something. If I want something, I save for it. Beyond that, I only spend on bills, gas, and groceries. And it’s amazing that I have nearly $800 in savings, the first time I’ve ever had savings in my life.

I still have a lot of progress to make, but I’ve made a conscious decision to stop the bleeding in my financial life. What things are you doing? What have I missed?

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web developer and mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!


  1. I just found your blog via a comment you made on Punch Debt in the Face I think your story is inspiring! I am going to add you to my bog role!

  2. Ok, I have to say something. It's my first visit here (I have no idea how could it happen that I haven't seen your place before) and I went through these three posts of intro. Your financial beginnings are really inspiring. It's almost 9pm here in Europe and I think it'll be a loooooong night to go through last 12 months of blogging!

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