I thought obtaining a perfect credit score was impossible but by some miracle, I finally have an 850.
Not many people in my life know that I was a victim of financial abuse by a person that I was in a relationship with from age 23 to 26. He maxed out my credit cards that originally had no balances on them and he stole a boat and 5th wheel travel trailer that were only in my name. When I finally ended the toxic relationship, I came home to an empty apartment after work one day. He obviously didn’t take it very well so he did as much damage as possible before he fled from our state with my money and personal belongings.
He left me in financial ruins. I was in 6 figures of debt, I had $800 more in expenses than income each month, and more money stress than I can describe. I felt betrayed, suffocated by debt, and totally hopeless.
Like so many other LGBTQ+ people, I didn’t have anyone to help me financially so I taught myself how to create and follow a really structured budget and spending plan. I calculated how much I needed to survive each month and then I found a 2nd job to make sure I wasn’t going deeper into debt. I worked so hard, to the point of complete exhaustion - but thanks to my relentless determination, and scoring a few promotions I was never sure I qualified for, I began to make progress. I went from feeling like a victim who was overwhelmed with fear to feeling hopeful and empowered.
Six years after he left, my ex eventually returned the stolen items. I was 32 and had emailed him a letter of forgiveness. I took a huge loss because the stolen items were upside down in value but for the first time, I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
If we take the time to reflect on our lives, sometimes we find that powerful lessons, personal growth, and a lot of resilience come out of our traumas. I certainly wouldn’t be where I’m at today, with a perfect credit score, no debt besides 78K left on my house, and a really solid nest egg that I continue to build on for early retirement, had I not learned some really hard lessons along the way. Many of us go through toxic relationships that leave our mental health/physical health/financial health in shambles. It creates a crossroads. It can motivate us to learn and prevent it from ever happening again, creating success from chaos. Or we can ignore the lessons, decline the opportunity of uncomfortable work, and eventually have to learn the lesson again in another relationship.
I have so much compassion for people struggling financially and all the stress it causes. If you want any money management tips, I’m your girl! Click here to learn 5 simple strategies to take control of your finances.
And for those wondering, yes, that was the last man I was ever with! Living out of alignment did not serve me well.
Dana has 15 years of expertise in the financial industry and first-hand experience in transforming her own life, by pushing through years of debt into complete financial freedom.