In 2011, my partner of 13 years suffered a mid-life crisis, leaving our daughter and me. Through all of the tears and turmoil because of her infidelity, I had an epiphany. She left refusing to keep paying for her half of the mortgage, even while her name was still on the title deed. She also made a series of unauthorized transfers totaling $5,000 from our joint bank account into her personal account without me knowing. As you can imagine, her actions threw me into an emotional rollercoaster. All of the sudden, I found myself living with a total stranger. I realized I had to quickly come up with a plan for stretching my salary to prevent the loss of my house. Despite the emotional pain caused by our separation, I quickly realized that a huge part of the impact was financial.
Having enjoyed the flexibility of a dual income household, I suddenly grasped that I needed to reevaluate my personal finances, assets, retirement savings, my debt, and most important, the business I wanted to launch. With the money I had saved for over a decade, I paid my former partner the money she had invested in the house – in cash and minus depreciation – and refinanced the property in order to remove her from the title.
I dove into research about personal finances and entrepreneurship strategies. At first, I really didn’t understand much. However, the more I read, the more it made sense. I learned about credit card utilization ratios and along the way, I learned about how to launch a tech startup. For me, it was important to responsibly interrelate my personal finances and the business I was about to launch. Saving for retirement and for my daughter’s college education became a priority. Launching my own startup became an obsession.
My parents, both academics (my mother is an accomplished biologist and my father was a sociologist), taught me about education as the path to financial freedom. My plan consisted of going back to school to obtain a Master’s degree from UCLA and to do so without incurring any further debt. Instead of taking out student loans, I found fellowships at the university in exchange for registration fees, and consequently graduated with zero debt. I finished my degree while working full time.
With the money I had put away, I invested in a company that made me a partner. Most astonishingly, I became financially literate throughout the process raising my credit scores from the low 600s to the 800s. I then realized that I had increased my chances of maximizing wealth for my daughter and me. I am now in the process of launching a second startup.
It took me 2 and a half years to fully recuperate from my former partner’s financial havoc. Those actions could have caused me financial ruin. However, ironically, they only made me stronger. I learned from owning the fact that my relationship had failed, but bounced back with more confidence. Our separation became a financial awakening for me. In fact, failure didn’t destroy me. It only made me more tenacious.
This experience has undoubtedly been the toughest lesson I’ve endured in my life. The levels of stress and anxiety, the sleepless nights, the drastic weight loss because of depression and the uncertainty of not knowing if I would have enough money to put food on the table for my daughter, crumbled my spirit. Nevertheless, this challenge made me who I am today – and for that, I am extremely grateful.
While I hold no grudges towards my former partner and I wish her well, this painful experience also helped me understand that every financial decision your significant other makes, also impacts you directly. However, it is how you react to these decisions that makes all the difference. I am not telling this story from a victim’s perspective. On the contrary. My story is about resilience and courage.
Women are more empowered when they take control of their personal finances and even more, when they become entrepreneurs.
Here, I share my story in the hopes that you become a “social disruptor” – a tech entrepreneur. Whether you sell items on eBay out of your home or want to launch a startup, owning a business is one of the most thrilling enterprises you can undertake — and a path that I strongly believe leads to financial freedom.