“Single in the Suburbs” really makes me irritated

Disclaimer: I cannot imagine going through what she is going through, nor do I want to, and I don’t have any kids and cannot really judge her because I’m not a mother…. but after reading this woman’s columns it makes me want to slap her or at least make her recognize her dire financial situation because it’s so frustrating.

She is living in a money sucking 4000 square foot house with just one daughter

These are excerpts taken from her columns.

I sort through my mail and find the electric bill. Oh, no. It’s over two hundred dollars. I glance back at my behemoth house and think: That’s it. I cannot afford to live here anymore. Over 4,000 square feet of energy-sucking, wallet-draining space, and it’s going to bankrupt me. When Craig and I split up, I pushed hard to keep the house. Now it’s nothing but a burden, filled with memories of another — not particularly happy — life.

On the other hand, I promised my daughter I’d stay until she graduated high school. She loves her room and is naturally sentimental — she hates to part with anything, especially remnants of a time when Craig and I were married — and I am loath to disrupt her life any more than I already have.

On the other, other hand, I’m drowning in bills and moving won’t be the end of the world. We’d be in the same school district, and she’d get to keep all her stuff, though I suspect it may be a little cramped in a smaller house. The girl has a lot of stuff, and most of it is in heaps on the floor. She once told me that she prefers to think of her floor as just another storage surface, like a giant shelf that just happens to be under her feet.

She knows she cannot afford the house. It’s clear. She’s freaking out over only having $180 left in her bank account and no savings, nothing to draw from.

What really makes me angry is that she cannot seem to stand up to her daughter to be a real MOM and show her daughter that sometimes you have to make hard decisions in life even if you don’t want to, and that the 4000 square foot house, while is filled with great memories for her daughter and some of her for her, is mostly painful for her to deal with because she had good times in there with her ex husband and it’s draining her paycheck. Really draining it.

You have to teach your kids that things in life are just not fair. It’s harsh, it sucks, but you have to deal with it.

She ends up losing her $2000 deposit.

At first I think it’s one of the cats, then I realize it’s my daughter, weeping loudly. I turn on the light and stumble down the hallway. I knock on her door.

“Come in,” she says, tearfully.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?” I don’t know why I bother to ask. I know full well why my daughter has been crying.

“I don’t want to move,” she says. Her face is swollen. “I love my room. I love this house. This is my house. You can’t take my house away from me. You just can’t.”

Is it possible to actually feel your heart breaking? My chest aches as I watch this girl crying into her hands. I go to put an arm around her shoulders but she jerks her body away from me. She refuses to be consoled.


I am dreaming about a kitten, a little calico mewing at my feet. I wake up and realize it’s not a cat but my daughter, crying in her bedroom. I shuffled down the hallway and knock on her door. Between chokes and sobs she tells me that she’s crying because “we almost moved.”

Oh no. This cannot be happening! I backed out of the deal, surrendered two thousand dollars in earnest money, lost the house of my dreams, and here’s my reward: My daughter is still crying and she still hates me for ruining her life. I can’t win.

I get it. Your heart bleeds. But the reality of your financial situation is that you’re living paycheck to paycheck, no emergency cushion and all because your daughter cannot let go of the ‘family home’ that she’s grown up in.

And YOUR husband left YOU. You didn’t choose to have him cheat on you. Doesn’t your daughter ‘get’ that? Things happen, and you didn’t choose to have him not be in love with you any more. She can’t blame you for anything and she shouldn’t. If she does, it’s called therapy. Look into it.

Give me a break. It’d be really hard, and painful, but nothing in life is easy and she’s gotta learn the hard way. She has to sit down, see you go through the budget and have her understand that for PRACTICAl, FINANCIAL reasons, they cannot stay in the house any longer because they just can’t afford it. Simple.

You’re the bloody mom. Act like it. Act like a responsible caregiver who has your kids’ best interests in mind and teach her to take care of her finances, make her learn from YOUR mistakes so that she doesn’t do the same thing when she grows up.

And while the emotions are intense and everything is running high on pain and separation from this 4000 square foot house, you sometimes just have to deal with reality.

If your daughter REALLY wants to stay, draw up a budget, tell her she’s got to get a job to give an extra $200/month (or whatever), and/or tell her that she can’t ask for concert tickets, new clothes or any of that stuff any longer because SHE wanted to stay in the house, this money sucking, money draining house, and there are consequences/actions associated to that.

On top of that, her ex husband is also berating her for not being able to ‘manage’ her money but she’s too spineless to tell him “Look the 4000 square foot house is a huge chunk out of my budget” and proceed to show him the numbers.

Before Craig and I negotiated our divorce settlement, I consulted with a financial counselor who specialized in women and money. She used a computer program to determine what my financial status would be after my divorce based on my estimated income and expenses. The picture was bleak indeed. According to the analyst’s projections, I would have wiped out my savings within the first three years. She was off by a year. Two years after my divorce, I finally knew firsthand what it was like to live paycheck to paycheck.

My checking account information finally comes on the screen. Oh no. Apparently I am overdrawn by $162, and I’ve been charged another $25 for “overdraft privilege.” (Some privilege.)

I click “history,” and discover that I’m overdrawn because I am still paying for Craig’s life insurance. Two years ago he promised that he would do the necessary paperwork to transfer deductions to his account, but Craig’s a procrastinator and he never got around to it. Three months ago, when I noticed yet another deduction from my account, I urged him to make the transfer, and he swore on his mother’s life that he would take care of it.

I call Craig and ask him to deposit $187 into my checking account to cover his insurance and my overdraft fee. He tells me I’m being petty. Why should he have to pay my overdraft fee?

“Because I wouldn’t have been charged it if you had transferred your life-insurance deduction.”

Craig then proceeds to lecture me on the importance of keeping a cushion in my checking account “for these situations.”

I’m fuming now. “I don’t have enough money for a cushion,” I tell him, forcing myself to stay calm. “That’s my point, Craig.”

He says he can’t understand why I’m struggling financially. Between my salary and his alimony, I should have more than enough, he says. “Maybe you just need to tighten your belt.” ……….. Craig tells me that he’ll put the money into my account but, “I’m disappointed in you, Sara. I didn’t think you’d fight me for a hundred and eighty dollars.”

Um.. WHAT THE HELL? After 2 years and you’re still paying $180 a month for his insurance because he’s a lazy SOB who hasn’t switched his details over so that it comes out of HIS account? $180 may not seem like a lot of money to him if he makes as much as she hints that he does, but it means a lot to many people, and $180 over 2 years is $4320. It adds up.

Would you give $4320 away to an ex or to someone and say “it’s no big deal”? No. I didn’t think so.

And besides, maybe she DOES need a bloody budget.

She had an offer for a dream job that paid $15,000 more and the work environment seemed amazing. Her old work environment was toxic.

Bud says the job is mine if I want it. He even showed me my office, a bright space with two huge windows and sleek cherry furniture. I’d make $10,000 more than my current salary, I’d have three supporting staff members and a virtually unlimited budget. I’d be crazy not to take this job.

But as I make my way back to my office I decide that I want to stay where I am. As much as I hate Brenda, I really like my job. I don’t mean to be overly mystical, but maybe the universe put Brenda McAleer in my path so I could learn to get along with difficult people instead of escaping them.

And this Brenda person cannot be fired because she’s an “untouchable” because she has connections with Daddy being a former VP, or some crap like that.

Whatever. When the chips are down, you’re offered a better position in general, a better work environment, a pay raise AND they’re estatic to have you, it’s a no brainer. You go. You give it and try, and maybe for once you can wake up in the morning feeling great and happy about going in to work.

A misguided sense of loyalty to a company is one of the most damaging things to a person’s career.

To repeat, the company does NOT CARE ABOUT YOU. You have to care about yourself. And if the environment is toxic and filled with political landmines, get out. Not so simple, and not so easy, but if it’s the right thing to do for your life and your career, you make a hard choice and do it.

Seems to me like this woman has no backbone to stand up to anyone and she lets everyone push over her. I think that may be another reason why I’m going: WHAT? What are you doing with your life!?

She was too used to being a cushy stay at home wife

Now I want to kill him. I think of everything I used to have that I am forced to do without. A house cleaner (I spend every weekend cleaning, and the place is still a pigsty). The lawn-mowing service (I bought a lawnmower). A handyman (did I mention that I installed a light fixture in the kitchen myself?). Dry cleaning (those little do-it-yourself dryer sheets aren’t bad). I have also relinquished the luxuries, like acrylic nails (I’ve learned to live with my stubby fingers), vacations (I’ll probably never get to see Italy, as Craig and I had once planned), and I’ve abandoned my dreams (A summer house in the mountains? Forget about it).


When Craig and I were married, I never had to check my bank balance because I never had to worry about being overdrawn. I could buy any big-ticket item I pleased – new patio furniture, seasons tickets to the theatre, a new freezer for the basement, whatever – and there was always a nice cushion in our checking account. I’d hear people talking about living paycheck to paycheck and, of course, I felt sorry for them, but always assumed that I’d never know what that was like.

But your situation has changed. Life happens. Deal with it. DEAL WITH IT.

A cleaner, a gardener and all that stuff.. that is NOT a necessity in life. You’re still resentful he ran away with a 25 year old girl. Fine, but why are you still trying to cling to the fact that you “had it all”? He cheated on you, things didn’t work out, now this is the time for you to pick yourself up and show everyone what you’re worth.

It’s not as though he’s skipping on his alimony either, like what some single deadbeat dads do.

Stop running away from it, getting tattoos, piercings, stupid things and not being able to balance a proper budget.

You are on your OWN lady.

There is no fricking White Knight. There is no Prince Charming. Get with the program, take control of your life (kind of silly you let your husband do all the budgeting/finances and not having had a hand in any of it and being completely clueless), but the times have changed.

Learn about your finances, how you’re going to deal with your life, and fix it before you really regret it.

I totally sound like a harsh bitch (I know), but sometimes it’s just so frustrating to hear this from women in my life and have them not do anything about it (I can’t push them) and/or read about it in a MSN Dating/Personals Blog, but in all cases, I really want to shake/slap them back into reality.

I don’t think I’ll read her columns any longer (yes I read all 51 of them in a row), because it’s getting me frustrated (LOL!!! I don’t even know her!) but I figured it’d make for a great blog post.

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About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.