I want to offer financial divorce advice in the form of the inspirational story of Andrea Foreman, who went from successful, wealthy bachelorette to divorced, single mom standing in line for food stamps. Here is Andrea’s story. We hope it will educate and motivate women to empower yourselves in your relationship by understanding and co-managing financials. In other words, DON’T be in the dark when it comes to money.
Flat out Broke and on Food Stamps! A Divorced Woman’s Nightmare! By Andrea Foreman
At 28, I had a thriving Public Relations business in Chicago. I was described by my clients as a “dynamo” a real go-getter! I was voted as one of the most eligible bachelorettes in Chicago by Today’s Chicago Woman. The Chicago Tribune wrote several profile articles on me. I was traveling throughout the country speaking to groups of entrepreneurs. I was earning so much money every month that I honestly didn’t know what to do with it! I had a beautiful apartment on Lake Shore Drive, Weekly facials on Oak Street, and worked out at the East Bank Club. I was living the life of a successful single gal in the city! I put my all my earnings in my checking account, not giving a second thought to planning for my future.
Two years later, I met my husband and my life was all tied up with a nice little bow. Two children, a dog and a house in the suburbs, I thought my life was complete. Even though I continued working and making money, I trusted my husband to make all the final decisions for our family. Big mistake!
As the years went on, my husband and I started growing apart and began discussing divorce. When it came time to discuss our financial arrangements that’s when it hit me, all the years he was keeping things from me and I was naive and trusting of him and not asking questions. I walked away from my divorce with nothing but a small amount of money from the sale of our home, there wasn’t any equity in it. I had his debt and mine, as everything was in my name, but not on any of his bank accounts. We had no life insurance, no family health insurance. No savings, no retirement accounts, nothing of any value in our home. Only thing I owned was an old car without working headlights. I actually couldn’t drive at night. I had difficulties finding an apartment because my credit was so bad. My daughter was going into college at the time and my ex wanted nothing to do with it. My daughter and I often joked about how we would live in my old car. I felt like the world was caving in. I couldn’t believe a smart, successful, financially responsible woman like me would wind up like this.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, as they say. So, without the funds to pay for health insurance for my kids and me, I stood in line at the Department of Human Services to get public aid for us and sign up for food stamps. I was relieved to find out that food stamps really weren’t stamps you would give the cashier, but a simple debit card. I still drove out of my neighborhood to other grocery stores for fear that someone would see me using it.
Because my ex husband never worked throughout our entire marriage, there was no maintenance or child support. In fact, it took two and a half years in court as he fought me for money every step of the way. Keeping in mind that his very wealthy mother had been supporting him all along.
Having been picked up off the floor many times by my three best girlfriends, not really knowing how I would survive and what would become of me. I realized one day as I was contemplating suicide, no kidding, there had to be a lesson learned here. How can I help other women to not make the same mistakes I had. How could I reach other women to help them plan for their lives as a single woman, even if they are married. Statistics show that 60 percent of women will outlive their husbands and 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce. As women, we need to protect ourselves.
Three years ago, I met a man who happened to be a financial planner and he has worked with me to help me begin saving for the future, even though my income is still very small. Along with financial planner, Dan Fisher, I’ve created a group called, Financially Fit Women Chicago. My mission now is to reach out to single women in their 20s and 30s to help educate them now about their financial future. And, to speak with married women to not be the spouse in the dark. Know what the two of you have together and get it all in writing. It’s never too late to protect yourself.
I’m not going to say that I’m living happily ever after. I probably may never get out of debt. And, I have not miraculously earned tons of money. I’m still a work in progress. My daughter and I are struggling together to get her through her last year of college. And, she plans to go onto Nursing School, another two more years of tuition. My son spends more time with his father because he can give him a car and can afford to do more for him than I can, so I am grateful for that. I have four years of his college ahead of me. And, I’m still broke. But, tomorrow’s another day and I look forward to the future. It’s never too late to reinvent yourself!
Andrea Foreman is the Co-Founder of Financially Fit Women Chicago, a group dedicated to educating women who want to become more secure, take control of their financial futures and make a positive change in their lives, she’d like women to think of her as their own Personal Financial Trainer. To learn more:https://www.facebook.com/groups/814290425291974/ or http://www.andreaforemanpr.com