Ah, November. The second-last month of the year, when the looming reality of winter’s arrival finally starts to set in. The rain can’t decide whether or not to turn to snow. It’s dark outside when you leave for work. And it’s dark again when you get home. Yeah, November’s a real joy.
In keeping with this month’s gloomy mood, we took a look at some of November’s most depressing personal finance reads: tales of shame, regret, and downright poor money decisions. Here are our top picks:
Debt: A Love Story, via WealthSimple
One married couple, two well-paying jobs, three kids and more than $500,000 in debt. It was hard to miss this story floating around on social media during the past month.
In exchange for anonymity, “Tom” and “Kate” gave WealthSimple the story behind their $60,000 in credit card debt, their $18,000 loan and their $360,000 mortgages — yes, plural. Oh, and these numbers don’t take into account their student loans.
The story is riddled with other jaw-dropping details, like the fact that out of their 10 or 11 credit cards, eight are maxed out; or that they cashed out Tom’s 401(k) to pay off some of their debt and were hit with $20,000 in taxes; and that they couldn’t rent their son’s prom tux with cash, so they bought one with their Nordstrom credit card instead.
This is the kind of story that, as you read it, increases your heart rate and raises your blood pressure. Perhaps the most astonishing detail is that the couple continues to get unsolicited offers from lenders for more credit. How, you ask? We wondered that, too. Turns out, on paper, Tom and Kate might actually be model borrowers if they’re always making their minimum payments on time. Scary stuff.
AAFU: I’m ashamed of being so broke, via The Outline
In an anonymous letter submission to The Outline, a not-so-wealthy journalist asks for advice on how to manage the shame she feels for not being as well-off as her two sisters.
The anonymous journalist writes that her sisters are “certifiably, ostentatiously rich. I live paycheck to paycheck. They travel the world, buy homes and brand-new cars, and are having babies. I live in a shitty rental that I can barely afford, have almost nothing saved for retirement.”
The writer goes on to explain that she can’t stand how lousy she feels around her family, especially when they throw her lavish birthday parties and treat her to indulgences she otherwise couldn’t afford. The Outline's associate editor, Brandy Jensen, responds with relatability and razor-sharp wit, like when she reminds the journalist that “...hoarding wealth in a world of unaccountable suffering is immoral and by accepting their generosity you are in fact granting them the favor of unburdening their souls.”
That’s one way to look at it.
How Getting Unexpectedly Dumped Has Cost Me Over $5000 (And Counting), via The Financial Diet
How much does it cost to get dumped? That’s probably not a question you’ve given much thought to, which is what makes Laura Munoz’s piece all the more readworthy.
Breakups are hard enough. But when there are shared finances in the picture, the split gets a whole lot messier. In this article, Munoz reflects on the financial repercussions of her breakup when her boyfriend of three years suddenly decides to leave her. She discovers that being dumped is more than just painful — it’s expensive, too.
Once she starts to factor in costs like brand new houseware, hiring a dog sitter and having to reassume the full cost of what were once shared bills, Munoz finds out that this breakup has left her more than $5,000 poorer.
“I should have been more careful,” she writes. “.... about leaning on a partner financially and taking on expenses I couldn’t afford without him.”