Soggy Hotdog Story. the Sequel

The following guest post is from Ashley of Wide Open Wallet.  Ashley was inspired by my own “Soggy Hotdog Story” posted a couple months ago, which detailed the point of my financial meltdown and subsequent turnaround.  Be sure to visit Ashley’s site, and subscribe to her feed for more great articles like this one!

Hello Frugal Dad readers! First and foremost I would like to thank Frugal Dad for the chance to write a guest post for him. It’s a real opportunity for me. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say to this large group of new readers. What can I say that will entertain, inform, provoke thought and represent who I am and what my site is about? That’s a pretty tall order for one single post. I’ve decided to write about a time in my life when I wasn’t being true to myself, and as a result I ended up in the worst financial position I’ve ever been in. In just three short years I went from having a good sized savings account to being $3,000 in debt.

I’m a natural born saver. It’s always something that has been important to me. From those first few paper route dollars, to the over time at a call center, I saved. As a result of that by the time I was 22 I had no debt of any kind and had saved up about $15,000. This is when I met my daughter’s father. He is a natural born spender. If it weren’t for getting pregnant our relationship would be nothing more than a distant memory. But I did get pregnant so I tried very hard to make this doomed relationship work. I didn’t stand up for myself. I kept quiet to avoid fights. I agreed to things I knew were wrong. I convinced myself that everything was fine.

The first thing to go was any new savings. He wanted to spend every dollar we made. It was always just one more thing. He didn’t value saving so to him it just seemed like a waste of money. He would argue with me about putting money aside. We just need a new DVD player and then we will save some money. Just one weekend getaway.  Just one more toy. It was never worth the fight, so I would agree. Closing my eyes to what I knew was on the horizon.

But if you live spending every dollar, eventually you need even more. First my ex lost his job. Since he was unwilling to make lifestyle adjustments, I dipped into savings to keep the stress level down. Then we moved, which cost money. Then the car broke down. More money. We moved again. More money. We took the baby to see family out of state. More money. During this whole time I knew we were on a road to destruction, but I pushed it out of my mind. I was lying to myself that this is what was best for my daughter.

Eventually the savings ran out. But the spending didn’t. We needed a new couch. And a new this, and a new that. With my savings account drained I turned to a credit card. Before I realized it the balance was over $3,000.

I couldn’t take it anymore. That’s it! No more! I lost it. We had the fight that had been building up for the past three years. He moved out shortly after. I was a new person. No more relenting. No more thoughtless spending. I was focused only on paying off this debt and rebuilding my savings. I didn’t care about the fights it caused.

We were both happier once we separated. It should have happened long before it did. I know that it’s not ideal for my daughter. But it’s the lesser of two evils. This way we can both be true to ourselves. I don’t know what his financial situation is like, but once I started doing what is right for me my life turned around. I paid off that credit card debt in record time, and started to rebuild my savings. I felt free again.


  1. My mother was in a similar situation (with a few additional marital problems), but unfortunately it took her 25 years to walk away (but maybe fortunately because I wouldn’t have been born!). On the flipside, she instilled in me a strong work ethic and to never depend on another person financially – she ended up with literally nothing but $2,000, two young kids (the other three were older at the time) and no where to live. Even though I’m fortunate to be married to someone that earns enough that I don’t have to work, I do. I contribute to my own retirement, because it makes me nervous to put all my eggs in one basket. Also, all the benefits are through me and my job, which gives me enormous comfort if anything should ever happen and I had to be completely financially independent. I commend you for your bravery, because it’s difficult going at it alone with a child to support.

  2. I am sorry for your daughter but your post may help others who are early in relationships to be sure that they and potential mate are compatible in matters of money behavior. It is very difficult to re-train someone who is financially irresponsible.

  3. Your daughter is fortunate to have such a sensible and hardworking mother. You are setting an excellent example for her and I am sure that once she is old enough to understand your financial habits, they will rub off on her.

    I’ve known many strong men and women in your situation, and they ALWAYS come out on top. Not overnight, but in the long run. The spendthrift spouses… not so much. It’s important to realize that you’ve done as much as you could for him. Ultimately you didn’t make him the way he is, you did everything in your power to get him to change and improve, and yet you still don’t control the kind of choices he makes as an individual. So… your ex’s financial life is not your responsibility.

    Congratulations on taking the steps necessary to build a strong foundation for your daughter.

  4. Ashley: Thanks for sharing this inspiring post with us. I was raised by a single mother, with no support from my father. However, I was lucky. My mom remains one of the strongest people I know, and she had a great supporting cast of grandparents and friends. 26 years ago, she made a most difficult decision to walk away with a five year-old son, but today we are both much better for it.

    I agree with others–you are no doubt setting a fine example for your daughter as you and your husband instill the discipline (financial and otherwise) she will need to be a success in young adulthood and beyond.

  5. Ashley, I had and I guess is still having a similar situation. I’m a natural born saver, but my wife is spender. We have daughter too, but we still together. I’m trying to save by my own by paying myself first, meaning of creating an emergency fund and saving for education for our daughter. But unfortunately my wife doesn’t share this and just say: “oh, great, but our daughter is only 3.5, you don’t need to do that”. What can I say… she don’t understand.

  6. Hey guys! I wanted to thank everyone for their kind and understanding words.

    Andriy: That sounds exactly like my ex. The whole “but she’s only 3.5” Never looking ahead, only thinking about today. Keep up the good work, you know you’re doing the right thing.

    BTGNow: I read a quote in high school that said “never date someone who you wouldn’t marry” and I didn’t get it. haha… now I do. I don’t know how you get that concept through to younger people who aren’t even thinking about being married.

  7. Gosh, you know it’s funny, everytime I log onto FrugalDad, there’s a post here that fits incredibly well with an article I am PLANNING to write (but never seem to have written by the time FD posts lol!).

    I’ve been thinking recently how important it is not just for MARRIED couples to be financially compatible, but how important this is to occur even while DATING. I’m trying to appeal to a younger audience, and I want to get the point across that the conversation about finances should start as soon as the check from the first dinner date comes!I feel like your experiences sum up pretty well what a lot of young men and women go through, and I think i’ll finish up that article and post it on saturday, with a reference back here, of course.

    Good luck with your daughter, and thank you for the inspiration.

  8. @BTGNow: I feel that way sometimes, too…LOL! Tomorrow I’m writing a Be a Blogger series post on monetizing a blog (if that helps in your planning).

    Seriously, thanks for being a reader!

  9. Aw heck maybe I’ll write it for tomorrow night then. Wow nothing like an awesome inspiring post at an awesome blog to cure writer’s block (well, that and all the video games…)

  10. @BTGNow… Remember when you write your article geared to the younger set, that some of us ‘older’ set people are helping raise grandkids … I’d enjoy hearing the ‘new rules’ as I know soooo much has changed since I was a teenager 🙂

    Seriously – I need to know what to tell the grands when they start asking. Thanks!

  11. @Ashley: Quote understood. And stolen. Look for you and it in the post tomorrow (say early evening, I gotta sleep sometime!).

    @Marci: Rules? Heck I’m not sure if I’ve ever even played the game correctly! Hopefully it’ll be a useful post to many demographics, but thank you for your comment: I hadn’t considered that there were perhaps older demographics searching for information on for the younger. Hmmm….

    @FrugalDad: Sorry! Feel like I inadvertantly monopolized the comments here lol.

  12. probably the wrong question to ask but I’ve met and heard of so many avoidable accidental pregnancies (ie dating not married) has no one heard of birth control or has the religious right banned all use of it in the south?

  13. Hey guys. I posted my article. You can get it by clicking on my name.

    @Ashley Quote no longer stolen.

    @Marci I don’t know if this helps. this is sorta what came out. I’m sure I’ll talk more about dating again, but for now this isn’t a bad place to start

  14. @Rob: Things don’t always work like they’re supposed to. The various success rates for various methods are a) never 100% (though some come very close) and b) those advertised rates are only under the best of conditions.

    Also, there is a huge problem with education. Many women (and men) don’t know all the options available to them. Many don’t know all the ins and outs, so to speak, of the actual act itself. Some are even under the impression that there is a cure for aids. It’s all education, cultural, academic or otherwise, and I don’t think it’s just religion that makes this difficult.

    I’m glad Ashley had the courage to try to make it work once they’d decided what they wanted to do. However, as I mention in my article, like Ashley, you have to know when it’s time to leave.

  15. BTGNow thanks, I was worried that my comment my sound harsher than it was meant to be. When it comes to relationships logic always seems to go out the door.