Thursday, I stopped by the courthouse on my way to work and finalized my divorce. The whole process was, despite the mountains of paperwork, surprisingly brisk. About four months from first serious discussion to finalization, and the hearing lasted all of twenty minutes. The judge commended us on our “professionalism” and the care with which we had filled out our forms, gave us some orders he had typed out based on them, and sent us on our way. I was at my post at the library when the doors opened for the day.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we have finished tying up our loose ends–far from it. Now that the XFP and I are officially separate legal entities, I thought it would be a good time to take stock of where I am financially–and some remaining pitfalls.

The house

Frankly, disaster looms on this front. We had a contract. Buyers backed out fairly quickly–changed their minds about the neighborhood. Got another contract, cash from an investor, almost immediately, with a 21-day close. I moved out and signed a lease on an apartment. Then the investor changed his mind, too. (We got to keep $500 of the earnest money that time, which is better than a nail in the foot.)

We have both signed leases and have rent to pay, so now it’s a race to see if we can find another buyer before we default on our mortgage. Fingers crossed. We are getting a lot of showings and a fair bit of interest and we still have room to drop the price, so I am optimistic about our chances. Our arrangement calls for me to receive the first two thousand dollars of proceeds with the rest being split, so hopefully I’ll get a little money out of it.

Exchange of retirement accounts

We accidentally made a settlement that we can’t implement yet. The XFP agreed to transfer some of his 403(b) to me. However, he had borrowed against it, and so his bank will not divide it. I will need to monitor the XFP’s progress toward the loan; since all indications so far are that he is acting in good faith, I’m willing to be a little patient. (The plan is to pay it off with the proceeds from the house, assuming there are any.)

My car

This is a big question mark. Can the almost 18-year-old Auto Paragon last a few more years if I sink some money in it? Is it reliable enough transportation for a single mom? It seems to be making a peculiar noise and the transmission could be going bad. I will bring it to Dave the Acerbic Mechanic for his assessment. If his opinion is unfavorable and the proceeds from the house are adequate, I might consider replacing it. (I am imagining something similar to the XFP’s 2008 Fit.) If he thinks a moderate cash infusion could keep me driving in reasonable safety (if not, by any stretch of the imagination, in style) for a bit, then I’ll have it fixed up.

My apartment

Currently, it has bits of tape and cardboard and scraps of packing paper all over the floor, the ottoman is blocking the patio doors, my dresser is wedged unsatisfactorily into the children’s closet, and my daybed/the couch (thanks again, Grandma FP) is covered by a mismatched full-size quilt that I’ve owned for twenty years.

I’m working on it.

I’m also working (in the form of trying to save money and increase my earning power) on getting us a place to live, in the future, where I don’t have to sleep in the living room or go outside to do laundry.

My savings

Well, it could be worse. I have $600 in my HSA that I could access at any time (by submitting the receipts I have saved). My intention is to build this up as an investment instead, but it provides a little extra security.

According to YNAB, I hang on to each dollar for an average of 36 days before spending it, so I am not living on credit card float–pre-YNAB, I’m not sure I could say that. I have seven hundred dollars earmarked for paying the lawyer who helped me with my divorce paperwork and I may be able to add a little more at the end of the month. For good measure, the Frugal Patriarch* is, I hear, sending me a check to help jump-start my new life, and that will provide an extra cushion.

I also have nearly twenty thousand dollars in personal retirement savings, not counting the share I hope to receive from the XFP. It’s not much, but it’s more than nothing.


Lots of balls in the air. Lots of question marks. But I have a lease on an affordable apartment, a car that runs, and enough money to cover a couple of minor emergencies. That’s a start.

*AKA my grandfather. Yes, he refers to himself as the patriarch, and I am sorry if you do not personally know him, because he is a millionaire next door and master storyteller and just simply a great person to sit around with drinking wine and shooting the breeze.


Where do you stand this month? What are your looming question marks?


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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

8 responses to “”

  1. ChooseBetterLife says :

    FP, I can imagine the untold heartache between the lines, though I see your strength, practicality, and optimism shining through as well. You’re doing great and providing a wonderful example of “adulting” for your boys.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Thanks for the kind words! I won’t deny that there are some blue moments, but this is the kind of sad I’m good at. The kind that is alleviated by lots of practical busyness and problem-solving.

  2. Carrie Willard says :

    Came over from Mr Money Mustache… I was once a divorced mom of four kids living on about $2-3K/month, no child support at the time. It was tough but doable and my self-confidence took a huge upswing during that time.

    By the way, I have no problem with the term patriarch! Patriarchs have been responsible for many wonderful things that I benefit from in my life. Not all patriarchs are evil despite the current rhetoric being told about them. 🙂

    • frugalparagon says :

      Welcome, Carrie! So far, it takes child and spousal support to bring me up to $2K since I’ve been working part-time, but I’m getting all the extra hours I can and substitute teaching when I’m not at the library.

      “Patriarch” does not equal “patriarchy” :-).

  3. Moonwaves says :

    Glad that the divorce has gone through so smoothly after a sometimes rocky process to get there. Hopefully the house will sell soon and the retirement accounts will get sorted. Being fully independent of XFP will, I think, bring nothing but good things for you. I’ve been in my new place for nearly five months now and I need to get back to trying to make it nice. I went through a couple of stages of unpacking, got to a certain point and then kind of stopped. It’s time to get moving on it again. Although it is frustrating, please make sure to allow yourself time to get to a place where you can feel “this is my home (for now)” and be happy with it. It really does take time and I think the older we get, the longer it takes, especially when you’re renting and in the back of your head is a “this isn’t my forever home” refrain going on. The questions at at the end of your post have got me thinking now. I think they are worth devoting some time to.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Thanks, Moonwaves! I definitely want the place to feel like a home. It seems to me that people often make rash and/or unwise decisions because they are unhappy in their rental, so I want to feel like this is a situation we can live with for a while. I made some tidying progress last night, spurred by the knowledge that a babysitter was coming today. Next I want to fix the furniture arrangement (I think I would rather have way too much furniture stuffed in the living room than have my dresser marooned where I can’t get to it when the kids are sleeping) and get some stuff hung on the walls.

      And update: The house is once again under contract. Fingers crossed.

  4. Patti says :

    Good for you! Living within your means:) I am glad things are coming together for you. That is wonderful about the internet price. You probably qualify for a universal Life line cell phone for free.if you get the internet. They give you a new smart phone and a certain number of talking minutes and texts. It is a little diffrent in each state. When I had my dresser in the hall of our tiny Apt. It worked just fine and was wonderful to access it when I needed to. Also my first year of being divorced I had zero money for Christmas for the kids and went to salvation Army and got on the list to shop for free for kids Christmas gifts.
    Big Blessings and a giant hug to you.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Thanks, Patti! It sounds like you are doing better since your first year–I’m glad. Thanks for the Life Line tip–I can afford my Ting bill but it might be a real blessing for another reader.

      Kudos to you for finding a way to provide for your kids even when the chips were way down! December happens to be a three-paycheck month for me, so I should be able to put on a modest Christmas and still stash a little :-).

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