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In this episode, one woman describes how her life changed for the better after her first divorce and second marriage — even though she was living in a household with less money.

This video is sponsored by Bestow. Apply for easy, affordable term life insurance offered by Bestow. It takes as little as five minutes, a medical exam is never required, and you'll receive a decision instantly after applying:

Through weekly video essays, "Making It Work" showcases how *real* people have upgraded their personal or financial lives in some meaningful way. Making your life work for you doesn't mean getting rich just for the sake of it. It means making the most of what you have to build a life you love, both in your present and in your future. And while managing money is a crucial life skill for everyone, there's no one "right way" to go about it — you have to figure out what works best for *you,* full stop.

Based on an article by Danielle Marie:

Video by Grace Lee

The Financial Diet site:

Making It Work is sponsored by Bestow.

Apply for term life insurance in as little as five minutes. Bestow's digital life insurance experience never requires a doctor's visit, phone screening, or medical exam.

Click the link in our description to apply for easy, affordable term life insurance offered by Bestow, and help make sure your loved ones are taken care of. According to all of the important barometers of life, I was living the dream. My ex-husband earned significantly more than I did.

And with our combined incomes, we had a very comfortable lifestyle. I earned a great salary myself, but my salary was a bonus compared to what my spouse already brought in. His huge income is what got us nice cars, bikes, big TVs, fancy trips, and a beautiful home.

Then, as 50% of married people often do, we went our separate ways. And I found myself flying solo on my single salary. Cut to six years later.

I'm remarried, our combined income is a fraction of what my household income used to be, and I've never been-- or felt-- richer. I can confidently say that I'm not the same person today as I was then. And I can say equally confidently that every single thing that I learned was absolutely unexpected.

I didn't set out to significantly change my life. It just happened. In my previous marriage, filling up the spaces in our huge home sucked up my reserves of time and long-term satisfaction.

Of course, I didn't recognize that at the time. I thought everything was happy and great. We had a big house.

Decorating and DIY blogs were skyrocketing in popularity. So naturally, I took the job of home decor/home improvement very seriously. And since we had such a huge canvas to fill, all of the projects took up all of my time.

Weekends were eaten up with trips to the big-box home stores thanks to my never ending quest of taking care of the house. Don't get me wrong. Buying that new bookcase, or fence, or wall print absolutely offered a jolt of joy.

But it was a short term jolt, and the work was never done. Weeknights were spent, tired and exhausted, in front of the TV. And weekends were spent on the house projects.

Saturdays were for going to buy the stuff and spending lots of money. Sundays were spent putting the stuff away or playing with the stuff or finding a place for later. That left very little time to notice that I wasn't spending much time on, or for, myself.

In my new relationship, our current home is pretty small, just shy of 1,400 square feet, and just the right size for our small family. There are no major projects required and no empty rooms to fill up. Do you know what that means?

I now spend my weekends taking care of myself and my family. I hike, I walk, I run, I sit, I read, I nap. I spend quality time with my friends.

I hang out with my family, I go on adventures, I play with my dog, I make bread. I live. The biggest house project on the weekends is making sure the bed linens get washed.

And with a smaller house and a single income, there just isn't room for those spontaneous purchases like the shelving units, home decor, sporting equipment, or clothes that I used to just buy for no real reason at all. Every purchase is now intentional. When we want to add something to our lives, like the lawn mower we bought last summer, the process of creating space in our home and our budget becomes a meaningful part of the purchase.

We cleared space in the garage, we created some specific criteria-- the lawn mower must be able to hang flat-- and we saved for the cost of the purchase before we made the purchase. Even when COVID hit, my second husband and I started to live on my salary alone, and we realized that we were OK. In fact, we seemed better.

We weren't as rushed. We had more time. My husband is able to pick up some work when need-be, but for the most part, we have chosen to continue to live on one salary.

And we have continued with a slower pace of life, and we like it. Living in a smaller house and filling up my weekends with soul-filling activities resulted in feeling happier and more energetic all of the time. Rather than coming home after work feeling exhausted every single day, I found myself with energy to spare.

What was once a solid block of downtime to fill watching several hours of TV was now an opportunity to do more of the things I loved to do. I am now a person who actually does things after work, because I'm not exhausted every single day. And my new lifestyle means smaller debt and bigger debt goals.

A Kia, and no car payments, has replaced the BMW. And somehow I still manage to get to work just fine. We have reached a place where our only debt is mortgage-related.

And it's reasonable enough that, with some serious effort, we will be able to pay it off within a few more years. My previous mortgage had so many zeros that I couldn't have even bothered to try to make any gains on it. When I was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt-- mortgage, cars, tractor, boat, et cetera-- a tiny bit more debt didn't seem like a big deal.

Now that a mortgage-free future is within reach, we are super careful about every purchase. And we do not buy anything without having the money in the bank first. All of this is to say that for me, the accidental investment of stumbling onto a simpler life has given me great returns.

I am happier. I'm healthier. I have more financial control.

Six years ago, I would have said with 100% certainty that I had a great life, and I was very happy. And I think I was right. I did have a great life, and I was happy.

I just didn't know that by downsizing on life I would find room for more greatness and more happiness. If you're young, it's easy to overlook getting term life insurance as part of your journey to getting financially healthy. But it's one of the most caring and responsible decisions you can make.

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