I’m an Older Divorced Woman Who Has Not Been Good With Money. – Valerie

“Dear Steve,

I am an older divorced woman in her 50’s who has not been good with money. Now I am caught in the Recession, having lost 3 jobs in 15 months. I finally have a good job/career on the horizon (mid-March of this year), but feel I have made many money mistakes and have filed bankruptcy 3 times before (twice discharged and once dismissed).

I have been a single parent and did well for years, but in the last 15 months my financial life has gone to “Hell in a handbasket.” Just 7 years ago I had good credit and some money set aside. Now I have no insurance and no savings and no 401K. I will be making a decent wage but have many bills to pay and am sure I am looking at filing bankruptcy again, because I had so many bills I could not pay for the year plus I was only working part-time.

I feel guilty, like I have failed and that I should be in a much better place than I am now. I know millions of people are scratching just to survive right now but that doesn’t help me fix my problem.

I need your help and I have been following your column, and I am always impressed with how kind and understanding you are with people who write in, You also seem to be very knowledgeable about money and finances.

I am almost finished with my degree, which has been a lifelong dream. I should have my Bachelor’s Degree this year (thanks to student loans), and I feel thankful to have kept a roof over my head with everything going on. Also, I have been divorced twice and had to sell one house and lost another, both due to divorce. I feel like I have started over more times than I can count. I have been called a “Survivor” by my family and friends but I have to tell you this is getting old. I respect your advice and need to know what you think.

See also  We Have No Savings, an Underwater Mortgage, and the Car Just Died

With my past history and where I am in life, what is the best to way to prepare for the “golden years” so I can try to retire one day? I have no 401K where I will be working and not a lot of extra money but am willing to save any way I can. I will be making a base salary plus some commissions. I hope you can help me get out of this vicious cycle and turn my financial life around. Please help me, Steve, as I don’t want to be a burden to my only child, who is happliy married with a child of her own.


Dear Valerie,

Thanks for the question. I’m sorry there was a bit of delay in responding. Life got in the way.

In my opinion the issue here isn’t what happened before but what we need to do now. I think there is no sense wasting a good mistake so it’s time to be contemplative about what you feel you screwed up before and not do that again.

Do You Have a Question You'd Like Help With? Contact Debt Coach Damon Day. Click here to reach Damon.

My concern is immediately drawn to your impending student loan payments. I applaud your pending completion of your degree but I’m rightfully worried about your financial situation once those loans kick in.

in anticipation of that eventual date you might seriously want to, one more time, go back and talk with your bankruptcy attorney. If you need to find a new one click here to find a local bankruptcy attorney.

Just about now you may be thinking that bankruptcy again is out of the question but the only way we are going to get you aligned to start saving for retirement is to tackle the debt issue now and do it. Time is not your friend here.

So let’s say you draw a line in the sand and tell me you won’t file bankruptcy. That means you’ll spend the next five to seven years trying to dig yourself out here. That’s a third of possibly your remaining working life. We don’t have that kind of time to waste making amends here.

See also  Our Credit Scores Suck, We Have No Savings, and We Are in Collections. - Tara

So the game plan is to contemplate bankruptcy, start an aggressive retirement saving plan and do whatever you can to live within your means moving forward.

Sound reasonable to you?

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

Follow Me
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
Steve Rhode
Follow Me