Debts, money, and survival

Hi all. I’m a divorced mom with 3 kids, two living with their dad and one with me. Reading the posts here has given me the faith that I can get myself out of debt. It won’t be easy but I will try. The state doesn’t help because they ordered me to pay child support even though my ex makes over $10 thousand more that I do.

In the divorce settlement he assumed sole responsibility and ownership of the van we bought during the marriage. He’s not paid on it since we split. The lawyer doing the collection says the divorce settlement is illegal so they keep garnishing my paycheck. He also won’t do anything about taking my name off the van title and the secretary of state office won’t let me do it myself. My biggest worry is that he’ll do something stupid like get in a wreck and I’ll get sued because my name is listed on the title. Oh, and he doesn’t like to pay bills so i doubt he’s got any insurance on the van.

The divorce was about 1 1/2 years ago. I’ve worked hard to improve my credit report. Started with a rating in the 300s and am now about 570 or 580. I pay my car insurance every month and last winter i got approved for a secured credit card. Yeah, i know, credit cards are dangerous. This one has a limit of $200 and i pay it off in full every month.

My ex believes in doing what he wants first then paying bills with any money that’s left over. During the marriage he’d take all the credit for the good stuff in our lives (big-screen tv, Cedar Point trip, etc.) and give me 100% of the blame for the problems. Problems like turn off notices for the electric and phone, struggling to get half the food our kids needed to eat. For the last year or so of the marriage he decided we’d split the costs. He would take care of the rent and electric bills. I’d handle the internet service (he insisted we needed two accounts), groceries, car insurance, gas, phone, two cell phones, satellite tv service (not much came in so far out in the country), and everything else that came up. After i moved out he got a turn-off notice from the electric company for almost $900 and the rent was 3 or 4 months behind. Never have figured out where all of his money went. He doesn’t gamble or drink and I never saw him bring home new stuff.

Wow! I’ve sure written a lot here. Okay, last bit is some of the ways I’ve found to stretch my income for things we need. Underwear and socks I buy new but clothes are bought from a local Goodwill store or the other thrift shops in the area. Thrift stores usually have good stuff for sale but lots cheaper than new. Sure you have to look for loose seams or needed repairs but i’d rather buy thrift store pants for $2.49 rather than over $20 new. Sometimes you can find brand new things bought for gifts that the receiver won’t wear or is the wrong size and can’t be returned to a store.

Two winters ago i learned to knit. Christmas gifts are now mostly lap-sized afghans, scarfs, and dishcloths and this year i’m trying for a sweater or two and maybe socks. By using simple, beginner level patterns and starting last month i hope to have everything done in time. Oh, i get the money to buy yarn by saving all the coins i bring home and drop into a jar every night. When i need yarn i cash in the coins.

Does anyone else have some ideas for ways to still do things without spending as much money? I’d like to hear your ideas.