Diary of a divorcee: ‘Money’s too tight to mention’

Lisa Jackson, 39, is learning to live without Kevin after 21 years
together. See her latest Diary of a divorcee column in Woman magazine
every week. This week, Lisa’s worried about her cash-flow

The new house was beautifully clean after Sonya’s professional efforts and, with the heating on and our possessions slowly slotting into place, I couldn’t have been happier. The only thing that wasn’t making me smile was the increased bashing my credit card was getting. Now that Christmas is truly on its way – goodness only knows how we’re going to cope this year – the hit’s even harder.

For the first time in my whole life, I was racking up debt and I felt scared and very uncomfortable. I’ve never asked anyone for a loan or for money in my life and although I knew I could’ve asked my mum or dad to help me out for a while, I knew this wasn’t a realistic option – borrowing is all very well but it has to be paid back!

It started me thinking seriously about my financial security. Born into working class families, my parents struggled for money when I was a child but we never went without. As a result, I’ve never been one for spending money I haven’t got.

I spent eight years building up a good career in PR while we bought our first home and travelled the world. After the children were born I gave up work to look after them but continuing to work whenever I could. I typed invoices on an old-fashioned typewriter the day I went into labour with Robyn, and started again the day I brought her home from hospital.

When times were hard, even when the children were tiny babies, I’d always pulled my weight and go out to work, no matter what the job was. I’ve pulled pints, babysat, worked in shops, ironed, cleaned and done Avon and Amway. I even spent five months as a chatline hostess when Kevin lost his job and Niall was a baby. I didn’t care what people thought and was just pleased to keep paying the bills and putting food in my children’s mouths.

So how come it is that now, at the grand old age of 40 and on the brink of divorce, all I’ve worked my butt off has started to slip through my fingers like grains of sand?

Divorce itself costs the earth – ignorance meant I had no idea about this, unfortunately. But after stepping out of my solicitor’s office a few weeks ago with a massive bill, I realised with horror that projected costs – even without any aggravation – for legalising our divorce would be on a par with what we paid for our wedding 17 years ago! I’d much rather be spending it on champagne than depressing pieces of paper.

The thing that really makes my blood boil is that, despite working up to 40 hours a week on top of looking after home and children single-handedly, I seem to fall short when it comes to help with benefits. The system seems stacked in favour of those who don’t seem to share my work ethic and although I’m happy to pay my own way in the world, I feel like stamping my feet and shouting “it’s not fair!”

But I know that once I’m settled in my new home, I WILL get back on my feet both personally and financially.

About me
Kevin and I have two kids, aged nine and 11. We think they’re pretty special. I never thought I’d be the one to end my marriage, but six months ago I did.

My ex
Kevin’s 46. He was my first boyfriend and the
love of my life. I just wish I could love him like a husband, instead of a good mate.

I needed a serious break so I took myself off to my local. The Royal Exchange is a bit like the Cheers bar, everyone knows your name – and Harry and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon getting away from back-breaking box moving, furnishing shopping and generally running around like a blue bottomed fly!

I’m longing for Kevin to come home and help me out with the large furniture after moving the bulk of what I could on my own.

Next week: Lisa’s planning Christmas

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