I was living the dream: a six-figure income, beach vacations, and a growing savings account—all before I was 25.
And then my husband and I split, and I woke to the realization that half of us had no career, no savings, and basically no idea. My half.
Lost, I moved three times and nursed my wounds with pleasures I couldn’t afford with only 30% of my former income (clothes, restaurants, trips to San Juan). And when I finally got a credit card in my name, I made a rookie mistake:
I thought my 1% cash-back rewards would cover my overspending. Instead, I drained my savings to pay the bills.
By a strange serendipity, I landed a new job at a small, financial education firm. Now I had to study personal finance books and blogs.
It was like watching myself grow up: I started auto-saving. I even asked for a raise. Things that were hard became easy.
I was proud as my emergency fund grew from two weeks’ worth of expenses to three months’. I was joyful when I purchased my first CD. And I was triumphant when I realized that I had survived the hardest year of my life–on my own.
It’s painful to learn that only one person really has your back in life—and that’s you. But the experience of growing from half of a couple to one whole person forced me to take responsibility for myself, to care for myself, and, finally, to love myself.