Skip to Content

Q&A | focus, blogging for money, and prepping for a split

Today we have three mostly random questions. Let’s go!

How do you stay focused when your life feels overwhelmed with financial and parenting issues? Everything I do seems to make matters worse. I feel I will never get rid of my credit card debt and I am so disappointed in myself that I let the balances get so high. I would like to retire in 6 years but that does not seem possible.


I’m so sorry to hear that you are feeling super discouraged. Since I don’t know any details about your financial situation, I can’t give you any specific ideas about how not to keep making things worse, but I can try to answer the focus question.


If I were in your shoes, I would focus more on the process and on good habits, rather than on the ultimate goal of being free of credit card debt. Daily habits are manageable and not nearly so overwhelming as looking at a pile of debt!

And if you keep repeating good habits day after day, odds are good that your credit card debt will start to decrease.

I’d also try to figure out the “why” of how I got into the credit card debt to start with, and think of ways to address that problem.

fallen tree.

I understand the feeling of things being outside of your control, and it IS usually true that some things are actually, factually out of our control. In these circumstances, I try really hard to focus on what I can control.  I ask myself, “What can I do?”

Usually, even in very trying circumstances, there’s something I can do, even if it’s just as small as taking some deep breaths to regulate myself.

green ferns.

I also think that while you are working to get out of debt, it’s helpful to have a kind attitude toward yourself. Few of us humans are motivated by shame, and that includes shame we heap on ourselves.

Again, this kind of comes back to asking yourself what you can do. We cannot change our pasts, but we can focus on what we do now.

tree trunk with mushrooms.

I often thought about this over the last few years; I would make different choices about staying in my marriage if I could go back (meaning that I would not have stayed for nearly so long).

I could beat myself up for that, or I can say, “Ok. In the past, I did the best I could with the information and beliefs I had at that point. I can’t change those old decisions, but I can give grace to my past self and also focus on making a new life for myself now, armed with the new information that I have.”

So, I am sending you a virtual hug, and some encouragement to give yourself grace. I think that might help you to have some freedom and mental breathing space to try to implement some new financial changes.

One other thing: I would make very small goals, and then I’d celebrate the heck out of it when I met those goals. If you do that, you might find that you have more little sparks of motivation than you think you do!

Did you ever think when you began this blog that you would be making a living with it?


I really did not! I started it mainly as a passion project, and to help hold myself accountable about food waste.

Kristen with Novica jewelry

from early blogging days!

Oddly, I think that’s the best way to grow something sustainable; online gigs often take a while to gather some steam and produce income, and if you are doing it with the main goal of earning money, it’s easy to burn out.

But I was having fun and writing about something that holds my undying interest, so it was not at all hard to maintain momentum in the years when my blog earned something like $100/month.

2008 Kristen in a pink dress.

very VERY early blogging days…29 year old me


Now it has been quite a few years since those $100 months, but I am still having fun writing here.

And I will never get over my gratefulness for:

  • how this blog eased my way out of my marriage
  • how it is allowing me to support myself while I get my R.N.

I wondered if you had any advice for finances related to married ppl who are thinking of being solo OR solo financially due to some issues with having connected credit with spouse who is irresponsible with money.

I notice you reference credit cards and earning credits sometimes. I just wondered if there were $ decisions you wish you had made, or oops moments you wish you hadn’t done.

I’m not sure where my path is going but I want to keep my options open and be financially smart.


First up: I am not a lawyer and I am also not certified to give financial advice.

So, I am just speaking from personal experience here, and what I have learned from milling around in the divorce community of late.

As far as I understand it, in the United States, you generally have no financial protection in a split until the divorce is done.

All debt acquired during the marriage will be split, regardless of who incurred it, and all marital assets will eventually be split.

wedding rings in Kristen's hand.

So, if you are married to someone who is digging a deep financial hole, you will, in all likelihood, be on the hook for half of all the debt that’s incurred up until you are divorced.

(Mercifully for me, this was not an issue I had to navigate.)

As far as financial moves I feel good about:

  • I had a way of earning money. I always had some kind of scaleable income over the whole course of my marriage. My thought at the time was that it would protect me in case of a spousal death, but as it turns out, it also was very handy when I decided to leave.
  • I always knew exactly what was going on with the finances. I paid bills, had all the logins, did the tax returns, and so on. I was not in the dark, and I was well-equipped to handle finances on my own when I left.

wedding rings.

  • I got some credit cards in my name only during the separation period. One of our longest-standing credit cards had him as the primary and I knew once I was off that one, my credit score was going to go down a bit. So I figured it would be better to get a few cards established beforehand.
  • I was good at knowing how to live on only a little. That’s a super good skill to have when your financial life has a bit of an explosion.

Readers, what advice would you add to mine?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Thursday 14th of March 2024

Thank you for your honesties, Kirsten. A woman needs a little money of her own, which could grow in an emergency. Divorce is hard when it explodes your youthful hope and trust. Since I have been married 45 years and never divorced, I can only add encouragement to your attitude. I married late after seeing both my sisters endure very young marriages and awful divorces, and both were dependent on our parents for divorce, support, and child support. Mother had been unhappy about both marriages but shE had some money of her own, and she used it to help them.

Maybe I can add to your advice. Cultivate a mindset that is more grateful for what you have than wanting what you don’t. Use cash, not credit. Learn new skills (home repair, sewing, gardening, efficient deep cleaning, auto maintenance, power washing, etc.) and check out of dependent status. Life on one’s own really is better than life with an unsatisfactory significant other.


Thursday 14th of March 2024

Your last sentence: 100% yes!


Friday 1st of March 2024

My suggestion Try not to succumb to peer pressure--going out to dinner, movies, coffee, etc. Suggest a potluck--just drinks, appetizers, brunch, dinner, or desserts, so much choice; or a girls' movie night, cards or games, or book club. (A potluck gathering can be a longer night but much more relaxed.) Back to simplicity. Saves on babysitting fees. Dinner out right now is so expensive. If there are children--take them out in nature, bring a picnic. Doesn't have to cost a lot. One day at a time. Good luck.


Friday 1st of March 2024

I know this isn't the main focus of this post, but I wanted to point out a couple things in regards to debt and property during a divorce. I am a family law attorney practicing in Illinois, and this may absolutely be different in other states.

First, a divorcing couple is usually free to divide the debts and assets in any way they choose. This could be by filing an uncontested case or by negotiating a settlement after a divorce has been filed with the court.

Second, in Illinois, a judge has to divide debts and property equitably (if it gets to the point of a judge making decisions). This does not mean it has to be divided equally. This allows a judge to consider things like a spouse's economic circumstances and opportunities to acquire future assets and income. As another commenter mentioned, this is to account for some disparities when one spouse may have been a high wage earner and the other wasn't, or stayed home with children, or something else. The truth is it is not fair for a surgeon and a stay home parent (for example) to split debts.

Finally, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is a way to have some financial protection prior to a divorce. This is something that varies by state and a consultation with an attorney is absolutely necessary to see if it is right in certain circumstances.


Sunday 3rd of March 2024

@Kristen, my parents’ divorce took 4 years and my dad was so horrible that my mum’s lawyer quit family law and moved to conveyancing after the case closed. And my mum got no child support and had to pay his debts.


Friday 1st of March 2024

Thank you for sharing your expert knowledge!

It does vary state by state from what I hear, which is why the most important advice is: don't make assumptions, and get a consult with a local attorney. :)

I don't know how you do what you do, but God bless you. I have hated every minute of the legal side of my divorce and I have often thought that I would hate to do this for a job. But I am very grateful that some people out there, like you, are willing to do it because you guys are so necessary.

Cindy Brick

Thursday 29th of February 2024

One thing that I have been doing for the past few years: every month, I write down 1) what we earned, and 2) what we spent. This is surprisingly easy, since we rarely use anything but credit cards (which we pay off every month), our household bills are paid directly out of the bank, and I generally write just a few checks every month. I also write a monthly report of "Frugal Hits & Misses" on my blog. Both these things force me to see how we spent our money -- lets me plan for future months, and helps me hold off, if I'm considering something we could do without.

It also helps to say, "maybe I'll get X in the future." Invariably, when 'the future' actually happens -- I no longer want it!


Wednesday 28th of February 2024

Any woman, married no kids/married with kids MUST be able to support herself and/or the kids. Don't live in fantasy land/kid yourself - sh&t happens. If I could not support myself and/or kids, I'd have never had kids - pure and simple. The ship sailed decades ago on relying on someone else to support you and/or kids. Those who think otherwise continue their crusade to make you think otherwise. I had first hand experience of the shot gun marriages/post birth marriages in and out of family. None were pretty.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.