If you're lucky, you can use your financial resources to get a fresh start in life. And sometimes, it's even worth the price.
“At one point, I just wanted to know how much I could pay to make her go away.”
This sentence, uttered by Marc Maron on stage at Podcast Movement a few weeks ago in Forth Worth, struck a chord with me. Maron was talking about his divorce (instigated by his now-ex) and how it seemed to drag on — and how desperate he was for the process to just be over.
I retreated to a dark corner of the room and proceeded to laugh-cry for about 10 minutes.
The last four months of my life, starting from the first week in May when my husband asked for a divorce, have felt a little like that. Almost from the beginning, I knew I wanted to make a fresh start — one unencumbered by the financial obligations associated with my time near Philadelphia.
I also knew I would probably have to pay a great deal of money to get that fresh start.
The Cost of My Fresh Start
After my now-ex-husband broke the news to me, the first thought that floated through my mind was this: “I'll have to move to Idaho Falls.” It feels like losing, but I've made the move and am renting a house that is a five-minute bike ride from my parents' home.
In order to ensure that I truly get a fresh start (along with my son, of course), I've pretty much been on a spending spree for the last four months. Here's what I've spent money on:
- My move across the country: Once again, I turned to U-Pack. The move cost right around $1,800 —and I didn't have to drive.
- A vacation: I turned our cross-country journey into an eight-day vacation. I thought it would be a good way to transition into our new life and relax a little before getting into the hurly-burly of “real” life. I splurged a little. Ok, I splurged a lot, spending almost as much as it cost to move my stuff.
- Moving my ex's stuff to his new apartment: Because of my ex's job, he just needed to move into a smaller apartment. I paid for his move, which involved hiring someone else to do the heavy lifting because neither of us wanted to manage this. (I also used this hybrid move technique to get my U-Pack truck loaded and unloaded.) That cost about $500.
- Money to get a fresh start for my ex: I've always made more money than my ex. In fact, until the job he got a year ago, I've pretty much been the main support for our family. (Even with his new job, I make almost twice what he does.) I wrote him a nice fat check to start his bank account and provided him with the liquid assets to get an apartment and a solid start independent from my financial support. The reason for this decision was legal, and the amount paid will remain undisclosed. But it was a nice chunk of change. More than all my other costs put together.
- Canceling TV and internet: I could have migrated my satellite TV service over here and avoided an early termination fee on the contract. I paid $287 because I just wanted to be done. The same was true of the $243 I was charged for the early termination on the cable internet contract. Is it painful to make that expenditure? Yes. Do I feel great right now that I am saving close to $150 a month because I just stream my entertainment? Yep. It'll take some time to break even on the savings, but I like that those requirements and entanglements are gone.
- Putting together a new home: Naturally, I had to come up with a security deposit and first month's rent to get into my new place. Additionally, I left a lot behind in Pennsylvania. Some of the items in our old place were taken by my ex. I needed to outfit my home with furniture (including a bed for my son since I took his after my ex ended up with our bed), appliances (the most expensive: a washer and dryer), and household cleaning supplies. I ended up spending right around $2,500 to get things set up.
Overall, I spent quite a bit of money — not to mention the time involved in researching and buying and moving — to get a fresh start. But I feel like I'm in a place to move forward and create a good life for my son and me.
Can You Afford to Get a Fresh Start?
There were probably a lot of things I could have done to reduce my expenditures. However, as Maron so insightfully pointed out, money can be a great lubricator. The upshot of my expenditures is that I have moved across the country, secured a home that is put-together and functional, and offers stability for my son. My divorce is in its final stage (wanting only a judge's certification) and all of this is just about over — and it's happened in the course of four months. While it's seemed like an eternity to me, those outside looking in point out that I've managed it quickly, relatively speaking.
Not everyone is as fortunate as I am. Being able to pack up and get a fresh start elsewhere comes with costs that are prohibitive to some. I have an amazing career that affords me a good income. I have an investment account that serves as an emergency fund (no need to raid my retirement account). And, in the event that I need more immediate liquidity and access, I've got available credit that is adequate for just about anything.
These are resources that not everyone can draw upon. Others hoping for a fresh start might need to work extra hours, cut costs, or put up with a number of inconveniences. I know people in situations similar to mine who wrangle for years in order to manage a settlement because they are fighting over resources and lack the ability to expedite the process.
Because I wanted the convenience of being able to get everything done as quickly and comfortably as possible, I went ahead and paid what it cost. While I tried to look for good value (many of the purchases for my home were bought on sale), I didn't go out of my way to save money. To me, the goal was to start the month of September with school for my son, and a whole new life for both of us, in a way that was mostly settled. Yes, we're sure to face other challenges. But at least we'll be starting from a place of order and stability.
To me, that's worth everything I've paid.