Crawling from the Wreckage: How I Reconstructed My Life After Financial Disaster
In December 2010, I watched as my attorney-husband stood before a judge, received a 3-5 year sentence for a felony, was handcuffed, and led to state prison. Convicted of a white collar crime, my husband had been a loving, funny, devoted partner who became desperate for cash once his business crashed and debt became seemingly insurmountable. He delved into his clients’ escrow little by little with the intention of paying it back. Of course, he couldn’t and eventually turned himself in. He soon lost his law license.
As if my spouse’s incarceration wasn’t enough, I was left with a heap of financial distress. We had been living in a just-renovated four-bedroom house on a maple-lined street in a beautiful Long Island suburb. But I could not maintain the house and support myself and the children on my salary alone. I remedied my predicament—without borrowing, missing any bill payments, and not depriving myself or my kids too severely.
You can relieve some money woes too if you’re willing to take a lesson from me.
Step 1: When disaster strikes, don’t just sit there.
Financial disaster doesn’t have to hit you between the eyes before you take action. You probably have a sense that things are getting worse before they explode. I knew the finances were unraveling long before I cared to admit it. And that’s normal; it’s called fear. But once I saw the proverbial handwriting on the wall, one of the most important things I did was not to do nothing!
I was scared, yes, but refused to wring my hands for too long.
I realized our financial distress well before my husband left to serve his one-year sentence.
So by the time he bid goodbye, I’d secured a separation agreement, sold the house I loved, filed and paid all taxes separately, and moved forward with a plan. I was on my way to solvency.
Bottom Line: Be willing to acknowledge your money has gotten out of hand or that you’ve been relying on someone else to solve it.
Put your numbers on paper.
Ask for help from a trusted friend.
Try a Debtor’s Anonymous meeting.
Don’t be an ostrich—take your head out of the sand. Step up and acknowledge you need help managing your finances, even if it’s only to yourself.